For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

Visually appealing emails win every time

How to make your email pop in the inbox

We're big fans of style, particularly when it comes to making your email stand out in your subscribers' inboxes. Your brand is unique, and as you're crafting the perfect email, pay mind to carrying over the look and feel of that branding you've worked so hard to achieve.

Let's focus on some ways you can improve the look of your campaign without breaking a sweat. Implement these, and your subscribers can't help but pick up what you're putting down.

Emma Seasonal Design
Emma's mailings provide variation while capturing our signature style.
It all starts with a branded stationery design. A custom stationery will add polish to your marketing message. And whether you have a keen eye for HTML or don't have a clue about design, we have options to make sure your brand stands out in the ocean of emails an average person receives each day.

  • Make use of Emma's world-class design team. One of our designers will work with you to create a design that reflects your brand's personality. A custom, recognizable stationery establishes your campaigns in the mind of your customers, so they'll take the extra moment to pay attention. Request your own custom branded design today. Oh, and do you already have a stationery design, but want to freshen things up? It's a good idea. Read about one customer's email makeover.
  • Make your own stationery header, DIY-style. Even if you're not a Photoshop pro, you can use a tool like picmonkey.com to create your own stationery header, which can be uploaded into a blank stationery. If you're particularly fond of your design, our design team can also turn it into a permanent stationery option (removing the need to upload it each time). Submit your design through our online request form and we'll get to work.

Consistency is key. When your campaigns have a consistent look, both throughout your email and also from one campaign to the next, your readers will become familiar with your style and appreciate it. Find a format that works for your brand to make your campaigns more readable. If recipients recognize and grow to trust you, the odds are in your favor that they'll take the time to read what you've got to say.

  • Format your text to work for you, not against you. You may be a fan of bright, bold multicolors, but they don't always work in an email — at least not when it comes to its main text. Leave the rainbows behind and create a consistent look to your campaigns with a nice, readable font type, color and size throughout the email, perhaps with an accent color thrown in to draw attention to links or important bits of information. Your judiciousness will make your email easy on the eyes and also keep the attention of your readers.
  • Consider putting a little work into your images on the front end. A consistent look and size of images will create a campaign that is pleasing (and easy!) to read. Our image editor offers the option to resize images to small (120 x 120 pixels), medium (240 x 240 pixels), large (360 x 360 pixels) and x-large (480 x 480 pixels). If these sizes don't work for you, or if you need to crop the images, we recommend Picnik.com, an easy-to-use online image editor where you can upload, resize and save your images (and also add fun filters, text and borders), and then upload them to your campaign.

Your email is good enough to eat — so make it easy for your readers to digest. We're busy. We're bombarded with emails, social networks, phone calls, texts, you name it, all day long. If you have a lot of information that needs to be sent in an email, you can help out your readers by using a table of contents and landing pages to get them to the good stuff a little faster.

  • Use a table of contents to help your readers get to the articles they're interested in right away. A table of contents at the top of an email can easily direct a person to exactly what they want to look at without needing to scroll through everything. You can use Emma's jump link feature to easily add a table of contents to your campaign.
  • Use landing pages to tell the rest of your story. It's an email, not a novel. Landing pages and "read more" links are used to shorten the email that's sent to a person's inbox while still giving them the option to click to view all of your content. It's also a great way to measure the popularity of your content with Emma's click-through reporting. Read about how to create a quick landing page using Emma.

Of course, there's always a little wiggle room for you to add your own stylish flair to your email campaigns, but if you keep these tips on your radar, your emails will be runway-ready in no time. And if you've got some more tips for creating visually appealing emails, please share in the comments here.

This is part five in our holiday series where we answer email marketing questions provided by our customers. Visit part four here.

+++++

Just discovered Emma? We want to help you make email and social work together.

With Emma, you're in good company. Meet our Customers.

Emma’s named a best employer and technology leader

Nashville Post names Emma a 2011 “Best Employer” and member of the “Tech 25”

We were delighted to find out last week that Nashville Post magazine named Emma one of Middle Tennessee's 10 Best Employers for 2011.

We've always thought that working for Emma is pretty fantastic, and we're honored to be recognized with nine other top-notch businesses, all of which are pros in what they do.

The other companies named Best Employers for 2011 were Aegis Sciences Corp., Centerre Healthcare Corp., Document Solutions Inc., Education Networks of America, iostudio, Medi-Copy Services Inc., Meridian Surgical Partners, Pinnacle Financial Partners and Vaco.

We were doubly delighted to find out that the Post included Emma as part of its inaugural Tech 25, a listing of Middle Tennessee's most influential technology companies.

It's almost like they knew that we've got big news to share on the product side of things at Emma in the next couple months. Stay tuned for a slew of new features that will help you communicate more stylishly, simply and quickly through more channels.

We would have been triply delighted to find out that we'd made their list of Top Companies Who Just Won a Year's Supply of Funyuns, but hey, two outta three ain't bad.

+++++

We're hiring! View current openings.

Keeping it real(tor)

How real estate agents are using email marketing in a tough economy

If there's one thing realtors are good at, it's staying positive in the face of unexpected challenges. They greet screwy inspections, needy clients and delayed closings with a smile and a can-do attitude. The past few years have presented plenty of opportunities to push agents to get creative, especially in marketing their own services.

With restrictive lending regulations, higher foreclosure rates and fewer Americans making the jump into home ownership, an agent's precious advertising dollars need to make a lasting impact. Savvy realtors are developing cost-effective email strategies — turning these challenges into new opportunities.

Are you a real estate agent and not sure where to start? Check out examples from three realtors who sold me right away …

Cindy Kelly Newsletter
Keeps clients in-the-know.

Cindy Kelly | A monthly newsletter

The monthly newsletter is a real estate staple, as important as freshly baked cookies at your Open House. Your newsletter should be branded, relevant and, most importantly, packed with helpful information. I love this example from Cindy Kelly in Bellevue, WA. Cindy continues to service her clients after the sale by offering them information on home care. Each article provides information about preventive maintenance, and Cindy provides a referral to a local expert. In doing so, she's also reminding them that she is a housing professional. Going the extra mile no doubt earns Cindy the recommendation of her clients.

+ See a recent newsletter
+ Follow @Cindylive on Twitter
+ Visit Cindy'sblog

Stephanie Lawrence Listings

Stephanie Lawrence | Current listings feature

Your monthly email is a great place to share your current listings, link each to your website and track which recipients show interest (via click-throughs). That's exactly what Stephanie Lawrence of Zeitlin & Co. is doing. Each listing gets an image and a short blurb that links back to her blog and the embedded MLS information. With one click, a buyer can get more information or even schedule a showing. The best part is every click is tracked so Stephanie can keep up with her subscribers. For example, let's say there's a price reduction on a home. Stephanie can log into her Emma account, see who clicked to view that home, then email a follow-up with the new pricing info to those folks only. The buyer is excited to receive the news, Stephanie closes the deal, and the home seller is wowed by the quick sale. (That's the plan, anyway.) Win, win and win.

+ See a recent newsletter
+ Follow @agentsteph on Twitter
+ Visit Stephanie's website

Agent 06 Listing
Hit the highlights of one property.

Angela Barnshaw | Specific property details

As a real estate professional you come into contact with lots of other agents, home inspectors and lenders. Ask them to join your email list and you'll not only build a strong, permissions-based list, you'll also create professional relationships that will return more sales. Angela Barnshaw (aka Agent 06) does a splendid job of creating an email specific to each property and sending the campaign to her industry contacts. Each email provides all the information an agent needs to match the home to a potential buyer, and recipients can share the information with their social networks. It's a powerful marketing tool to add to her arsenal.

+ See a recent campaign
+ Follow @GetAgent06 on Twitter
+ Visit the Agent 06 website

+++++

Want more examples? Take a look at the slideshow below.

{slideshow_1}

+++++

New to Emma? Get 2 months free when you join today.

Email click-throughs aren’t as elusive as you may think

Small changes in your campaigns can increase your click-through rates

Getting clicks on your newsletter is one of the elusive goals that requires a combination of the right information at the right time to the right recipient. No sweat, right? Well, it makes sense that the percentage of people who click is usually in the single digits. According to the Email Stat Center, the average click-through rate is 5.9%. You aren't going to be able to meet everyone's need in the right stage of the purchase cycle. However, there are a few things that you can do to encourage those on the fence to go ahead and learn more.

Right off the bat, you need to know that you have very little time to engage the person who has just opened your email. Think about that person for a moment; she has just deleted 12 other emails, she's drinking her morning coffee and she is checking her day's schedule. Or maybe your recipient is wrapping up before lunch (because at least one time zone always seems to be at lunch). He is seeing your email amongst social media notifications, YouTube videos from his sister, and all he can think about is that club sandwich in his future.

All that is to say, after you spend the time perfecting the content of your email, consider that you only have two seconds to capture the attention of your subscribers. That means that you must share what you're offering in a clear, swift and appealing manner.

Here's a good test: Hand your email to a colleague who has not helped design or write it in any way, preferably one who's unfamiliar with your campaign. To be generous, give him 5 or 6 seconds with it. At the end of that time, he should be able to answer the following questions:

  1. What are you offering me?
  2. How can I get it?

You don't have to be offering a coupon for this test to be relevant. If you are offering your expertise on choosing a wine to pair with dinner, that's valuable. It just has to be clear.

The "How do I get it?" question is where you really figure out if your message is effective and actionable. Here are some tips (and some of our favorite click-related articles) for optimizing your emails.

The small changes go a long way, so give one or two a try and report back — we'd love to know which strategies work best for you.

This is part four in our holiday series where we answer email marketing questions provided by our customers. To see part one, click here. Visit part two here and part three here.

+++++

Not yet an Emma customer? Join now — your first two months are free.

Does the arrangement of your email’s content matter?

Simple steps for more compelling emails
Season's Greetings | Emma, Inc.

This isn't really news, but it's worth stating: Come holiday time, anyone with an email address is bombarded with marketing messages from retail, nonprofits and services. As an email marketer, it's extra important that the emails you create and send are arranged in such a way that they grab hold of the recipient's attention and hang on to it.

Sure, the style of your emails is key, but consider also how you package and display the information you're wanting to convey. It's the holiday season after all, and the presentation of the gift is half the fun, right?

  • Determine the main point of your message and create a call to action. Think about the emails you currently subscribe to and what it is about them that keeps you reading. Something special stands out about them, right? Similarly, your email should tell a memorable story. And make sure to include a call to action that'll pop. If you're a local boutique, entice customers with a special holiday sale. If you're a nonprofit putting the word out about an upcoming fundraiser, give your recipients a way to donate online. Adding buttons to your campaign to *go shopping* or *donate now* is a simple and stylish way to present a call to action. Take a look at the seasonal buttons recently put together by the Emma design team for inspiration.
  • Maintain a healthy balance. We recommend an even ratio of text and images. A text-heavy campaign may be overwhelming to the reader, and an image-heavy campaign can affect the delivery of your campaign. Some servers look for that balance between text and images before deciding to accept the message and deliver it to the recipient's inbox.
  • Place the important content "above the fold" — but encourage scrolling too. Many recipients see their emails in a preview pane first so they're catching the top of your message before anything else. Include important info at the top to catch recipients' interest, but don't stop there. Encourage scrolling by including teasers, a table of contents or animation. StyleCampaign recently shared a few tips, like incorporating vertical lines or arrows to guide the reader down the page, and Cody wrote a post here on the Emma blog about adding animated gifs to email campaigns.
  • Make your campaign mobile-friendly. Most mobile devices now operate on touch, rather than the scroll and click of a keypad button. Fonts come across small, and it's easy to fumble your thumbs when moving around the email and clicking links. Avoid stacking links at the top of the email, and use a larger font size for the intro line. And while more folks are using smart phones, it's still a good idea to pay attention to the plaintext version of your campaign. Older smart phone and Blackberry users might not have the ability to load images, so make sure that plaintext version is user-friendly, too.
  • Have a backup plan if images don't load. Not all users will have their email settings configured to display images by default. If you send an email campaign with several images or perhaps your message is just one big image, your readers are going to end up opening a blank email. As backup, you can add alternative text to the images you upload into your Emma campaign. Alt text guarantees that something will display when the campaign is opened, even if the images don't. What text should you use, you ask? If the image you're loading has text on it, you may want to use that as your alt text descriptor. Or you can create your own description of an image.

Beyond these tips, have a little fun with your campaign! Try alternating images from left to right or pick a layout with a sidebar so you can incorporate images down the side with corresponding stories alongside them. Just remember to consider your own habits when reading marketing messages, and apply that self-awareness to your own emails. The rest will fall into place.

This is part three in our holiday series where we answer email marketing questions provided by our customers. To see part one, click here. And visit part two here.

+++++

Send a stylish holiday greeting this season. Order a holiday design from Emma's design team.

It’s Emma’s Featurepalooza!

Take a peek at the new features coming soon to your Emma account
Featurepalooza | Take a Sneak Peek at Emma's Upcoming Email Marketing Features | Emma Email Marketing
If you've been reading here and over on Emma Tech, you know we've been hard at work to make Emma simpler, speedier and better for our customers. We've shared info about our new platform and changes to come, and today, we're delighted to give you a closer look at the features and enhancements you'll find in your account over the next few months.

 

We've got all the details — including sneak peek videos — on our Official Featurepalooza Page, so check it out and let us know if you'd like to be the first in line to try the features.

Google+ pages for business

Why it matters, or not ...

The launch of Google+ this summer was difficult to miss. It was a long-anticipated release and subject to all kinds of speculation about how it would change the landscape of social networks. Would it threaten Facebook's dominance for personal networking? Would it replace Twitter as the de facto link sharing tool for millions? Would Google finally get social right or simply launch another mediocre product, destined for the scrap heap? While we're a long way from knowing all of the answers, the last few months have given us a chance to get our hands dirty and start to understand how Google+ fits into the larger social picture.

With the latest news that Google+ has opened its doors for brand pages, marketers have a whole new set of questions to tackle. Is Google+ worth the time and resource investment? Can brands use Google+ to interact with customers in a new way?

To be sure, there are some considerations for integrating Google+ that don't exist for Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. I've picked out a few pros and cons that will hopefully help frame up the unique space that Google+ is trying to carve for its social product.

The good

More customizable page setup
Google realizes that there are all types of businesses and organizations out there that want to communicate and share with their audience, sometimes in unique ways. Google gives you the opportunity to categorize your page in the setup process, with each designation having some unique benefit. The categories are:

  • Local business or place
  • Product or brand
  • Company, institution or organization
  • Arts, entertainment or sports
  • Other

This is especially helpful for local businesses, for instance, who want to tie in their Google Places account, which displays helpful info like maps, hours of operation, phone numbers, etc.

Better search results
Google has integrated brand pages into its search algorithm with something they call "Direct Connect." Now, adding a "+" to a standard Google search will take you directly to that brand page, skipping the whole search results stuff. For example, try it by typing "+Anderson Cooper 360" into a Google search bar. You'll see that it jumps straight to Anderson's +Page. Again, this is a great benefit to local businesses who often struggle to make it to the first page of standard Google searches. And speaking of that first page, Google's algorithm will now count how many of your followers have clicked the +1 button (Google's version of liking) as a way to boost your overall page ranking. It's leveling the playing field for brands, while adding a way for Google to improve the user experience for their main search product. After all, most users are more interesting in finding than searching,right?

More targeted sharing
As we try to get better at tailoring messages and content to the right people at the right time, the need to segment and understand your audience is more important than ever. That idea is baked into the Google+ platform in a fundamental way with its Circles feature. When it comes to sharing content, page managers will have a much easier time sharing links and content to one, some or all of their members with just a few clicks and some smart grouping of members into circles. Google+ also opens doors to easier direct engagement with hangouts — think of it as group Skyping. The combination of circles and hangouts means that a page can share and interact with only specific groups of followers really easily and all on one platform. Pretty powerful stuff for businesses who don't have a full staff of marketing and customer service folks at the ready.

The not-so-good

No support for multiple users
At this time, pages can only have one manager who is allowed to own or post to the official page account. This will make it hard for social media or customer service teams to collaborate or divide up work among team members.

No contests, sweepstakes, offers or coupons
Perhaps the biggest difference between Facebook and Google+ will be the nature of the interaction between brand and follower. According to Nielsen, the number one reason folks "like" a brand on Facebook is to receive special discounts or offers. This will be fundamentally different on Google+, and depending on your strategy, could be a dealbreaker for you.

No vanity urls
I expect this feature will come shortly, but as of now it will be a tad cumbersome to tell folks how to navigate to your page. Vanity urls aren't in play yet, so instead of something easy like plus.google.com/Emma, urls look more like plus.google.com/106168900754103197479/ – not the easiest thing to remember.

At the end of the day, we need to craft a mix of content and communication that meets our customers, fans and followers where they are, and one that delivers consistent value, regardless of delivery channel or network. I don't think Google+ will be a natural fit for everyone, but I do think it offers some interesting and unique value to a great many businesses. If you're time-strapped, a small team or a predominantly local business, Google+ may be a perfect fit for you, with benefits that extend beyond the direct engagement you create on your page. As with any new technology or tool, taking an inventory of your own strategy, your audience and how you engage is always a great starting point for determining where you should spend your time and energy. Who knows, a few weeks from now Google+ may be your new one stop social shop. Have a look for yourself, and come back to tell us about your experience.

+++++

Just opened an Emma account? Download our Getting Started Guide.