April Fools, email style.

Last week, we asked our community of Twitter followers to tell us the ways they saw companies using email to play their April Fools jokes. It's always refreshing to see companies injecting personality into their marketing campaigns, and this year's f-f-f-foolin'* was no exception. Here are two we heard about from our Twitter friends:

Scentiments

Scentiments.com email campaign
(click the icon for a close-up)

With this email campaign, the online perfume retailer launched, ahem, Scratch and Sniff technology. When you click through to the landing page, you get the promo code for the discount – GOTCHA09. Even if the technology was fake, at least the discount wasn't a joke.

Thanks to @PrecociousJewel for the tip!

Whole Foods

Whole Foods email campaign
(click the icon for a close-up)

Whole Foods took a more subtle approach in their weekly "Whole Deal" newsletter, featuring one banner ad for "Organic Air" as their Sure Deal of the week alongside regular products and promotions – the "deal" being paying $6.99 for .02 ounces of air. The landing page adds a few more jokes to the mix, including a picture of local penguins lining up for their new Antarctica store.

Kudos to @StephanieKern for letting us know about this one.

And of course, there were a few other popular ones – Gmail's a perennial favorite (thanks, @NDPtweets), and the Guardian fooled a few folks into thinking they were going to be publishing all their news in Twitter format going forward (thanks, @moragbrand). I completely fell for Under Consideration's fake rebranding of Verizon and felt equally as stupid as I did disappointed when I figured out it wasn't real.

What about you? Did you get a particularly clever or convincing April Fools campaign? How do you and your team find ways to add a little personality to your campaigns during the other 364 days of the year?

*Come on. A blog post without a gratuitous Def Leppard reference isn't really a blog post at all, is it?

[tags]email marketing, april fools, myemma.com, scentiments.com, whole foods[/tags]

The Brainiac Guide to Welcome Email Automation

Give your contacts more control over their email delivery

Thinking about one of our recent posts, Smarter email marketing in a recession, it's a good time to consider how you can get even more personal and timely with your email communication. And what better way to do this than to give your contacts the option of what content they receive and how frequently they receive it.

the-onion.jpg
Take The Onion, for example. Not only do they allow folks to sign up for their emails, but they're giving them the option of how frequently they'd like to receive emails and in what format: text, video or both. By allowing new subscribers to choose what they receive and when they receive it, The Onion ensures that their messages are exactly what subscribers have asked for.

Now it's time for you to think about what content you're sending and its frequency. Try asking if folks signing up would like to receive emails weekly, monthly or quarterly. And ask what type of information they would like to learn more about. Is it your monthly sale items, seasonal promotions or a weekly update from the company sports team (Go Cougars!)?

You can even add surveys into your mix to gauge your current subscribers' preferences about your emails. By allowing the recipient to choose, you will soon be reaching them on the most personal level: their own terms.

Making the most of surveys and forms (part four)

Part four in a four-part series (read parts one, two, and three)

4. Survey your team
+ Send an employee satisfaction survey
+ Create a company suggestion form
+ Publish a quick staff-wide poll

As you're seeing how email and surveys can help you stay in touch with your customers, don't forget the same tools can help you get to know your employees better, too. A survey helps you gauge employee satisfaction, and you can even collect responses anonymously to protect your staffers' privacy.

You might also send a survey to get employee feedback on simple but meaningful things around the office. If you've got a monthly charitable budget, poll your people to see which non-profit they'd most like to support. Find out which after-hours social destination is most popular. Or send a survey about the all-important break room snack options. The people, they want the Funyuns.

How email marketing helps plant trees in Oregon.

Every time a new customer joins the Emma community, Emma plants 5 trees. Our tree-planting parter, Plant-It 2020, does the actual planting. And usually you, blog reader, do the actual deciding where the trees should go. But this this time around, we're taking matters into our own hands. Somehow or another, March zipped right past us, before we had a chance to ask folks to vote on where that month's trees should go. So we're just going to award the trees to Oregon.

Why Oregon? Well, we like Oregon. We like it so much we have a 4-person office in Portland, all of them working hard for the Emma community on the West Coast.

There were 431 new customers who joined Emma in March, so that means 2,155 new trees to plant. Half will go to Oregon, while the rest go to an equatorial region.

Plant-It 2020 keeps a list of states where they plant, and the only ones that haven't gotten trees from Emma are Rhode Island and Vermont. This month, something's gotta give.

[poll=14]

Florida is about to get a little greener.

Thanks to 393 new customers who chose Emma for email marketing in February, 1,965 new trees will soon take root. If you did the math, that's five trees planted for each new member of the Emma community. Half of those will head to Florida, where *you* voted for them to be planted. The rest will head to the equatorial zone chosen by Plant-It 2020, our tree-planting partner.

Founded by John Denver in 1992, Plant-It 2020 plants an indigenous tree for every dollar it receives. Last year, thanks to our new community members, Emma planted more than 20,000 trees.

Making the most of surveys and forms (part three)

Part three in a four-part series (read parts one and two)

3. Do some market research
+ Create an opinion poll
+ Conduct a market research survey
+ Discover new segments of your audience

Alas, many of us come from humble email marketing beginnings, starting out with nothing in our databases but email addresses and first names. With surveys & forms, you can expand on that knowledge a bit and ask your audience where they live, what their interests are or where they work.

Use what you learn to refine a product or entice advertisers with better demographics. Or fold that information into your email strategy to create new segments of your audience. Then, send more targeted campaigns down the road based on what you now know. You savvy marketer, you.

Making the most of surveys and forms (part two)

Part two in a four-part series (read part one here)

2. Manage your Events
+ Create an event registration form
+ Follow up with a post-event questionnaire
+ Send an evaluation form for an online class

If you host events of any kind – seminars, conferences, online classes or fundraisers – you're probably coordinating lots of moving parts. Are the parts literally moving? One hopes not, unless you're envisioning some kind of elaborate event showcasing pulleys and levers and such, in which case, good luck with that.

No matter how involved your events are, surveys & forms can simplify how you manage 'em, with pre-event forms to register who's coming and post-event surveys to collect feedback. Pair surveys with date-based trigger emails to simplify things even more, automatically inviting attendees to take your survey one week after the big pulley showcase.

Making the most of surveys and forms

Part one of a four-part series

For the last couple months the Emma community has been gearing up to make the most of our new surveys and forms feature. A lot of ideas for how to use the feature have been tossed around, and we want to share some with you, fair blog reader. We'll post on the topic for four days this week – one big category (and a few examples) for each day. Hope you enjoy the series…

1. Ask for Feedback
+ Send a customer service evaluation form
+ Create a product review
+ Publish a product sampling survey

These days, a lot of organizations are focusing on better service, loyalty and retention, knowing that their current customers (or donors, members or fans) are among their most valuable assets.

Why not send a quick survey asking those folks for feedback on your latest product, your customer service or even your monthly email newsletter? You'll hear great insight from your customers, and your customers will have an easy way to share their thoughts with you. If only there were a punchy phrase to describe this kind of mutually beneficial situation. Oh, well.

Emma and Ellie

Emma recently made a new friend in Ellie. Ellie is a young girl who, five years ago, was inspired to host a family fun day and 5k to raise money to help meet the needs of people on the other side of the world in Africa. She named it Ellie's Run for Africa. Well, her dream became a reality and this year has a goal of raising $100,000 by having 1,000 runners participate.Â

We're proud to be a sponsor, but I'm sure you'll also see some Emma staffers at the event – both as runners and volunteers. If you're close by, or looking for a reason to visit Nashville, please join us

Help Emma help 40 classrooms in 4 days at SXSWi

We at Emma have been working with Donors Choose to help fund teachers' education proposals that fall outside of regular school budgets. Here's your chance to help us, and all you have to give is about 5 seconds.

Emma is trying to help 40 classrooms during 4 days of SXSWi, a festival in Austin, Texas that celebrates all things new media. We've placed a not-so-secret message on their lanyards that shows them where to vote. Care to join them? Vote today for the region and academic subject areas mean the most to you, and we'll use the results to guide where we send our funding. You'll be helping kids in no time at all.