Lots of you have been using our new Social Sharing feature in Preview, and we love reading your comments. We've even used your feedback to shape how the feature works. We know you're excited about how this tool can help your organization because you've been telling us in all sorts of ways, such as …
"The social sharing is a great new feature! Thank you for continually upgrading your system!" – Jess Goedken, WBG
"Worked like a charm and looks great!" – Peggy, Warner Norcross & Judd
"Just like Burger King: 'Have it your way!' You guys are simply awesome! I had asked for this, and here it is!" – Suzanne, Documentary Channel
(So you can see why we're blushing even as we're busily working on the feature.)
We're already thinking about how our product will evolve, and a big part of that future depends on how you all use social media. So we thought we'd toss you a question to get your perspective and give us more feedback to share with our product team: Tell us: Do you use social media primarily for listening or for speaking?
Some of you have already answered us on Twitter:
@boomerangzone says, "We use them for both. For social media to work, you need to engage in conversation. It's also a way to watch/build your brand."
@kenjisan says, "In my personal life, social channels are mainly for listening. Professionally, they're for sharing."
So come on, join the conversation and let us know how you're using social media in the comments below. We look forward to hearing from you.
How a design shop refines brands for their clients and strengthens their own identity, too. About their newsletter. Design & Image, a visual branding firm in Denver, sends out monthly and weekly newsletters and event invitations to their clients and fans. They illustrate brand studies, offer tips and classes for streamlining company branding and host a first-Friday happy hour for clients each month. Their penchant for clean designs and smart email marketing makes them a strong contender in the world of brand management – segmenting their audience and testing subject lines are two strategies they use to increase engagement.
Why we like it. The formatting is attractive and balanced. Design & Image's aesthetic is colorful and punchy without being cluttered. They've chosen relatively subdued colors – light blue and gray – and embellished with bright orange images. They place a visual splash with a focus on their key message up top, strategy questions in the middle and links to learn more at the end. In short: Use formatting to your advantage without overdoing it to get your message in front your readers.
They focus on their audience. Sometimes we forget that our email newsletters should be less about us and more about our audience members. The Design & Image email poses industry questions that their subscribers can ponder, and then offers a complimentary marketing consultation. It's easy for them to track their most interested audience members by measuring click-throughs and consultation conversions. In short: Think about new and creative incentives that encourage audience engagement.
The send-off, at a glance.
Sent to segmented audience groups in three separate sends (Mar 10, Mar 18, Apr 6); to 172 total members
Avg open rate: 39.2% :: Average click-through rate: 24.1%%
Subject line: Online Marketing Gameplan from D & I
If Google's Ms. Pac-man hasn't provided enough Friday diversion for you, we've just launched a special limited edition of our 404 page for "Lost" fans. (That's the webpage you see if the page you try to visit on our site doesn't exist.)
It's up for this weekend only, in honor of the series finale of "Lost" on Sunday night. You can also see it by visiting any non-existent page on the site, like myemma.com/smokemonster.
Thanks to front end web developer and "Lost" devotee Jeff McKeand for, ahem, hatching this little idea.
Post-Finale Update: We've had a little trouble letting go, if you know what we mean. So while our main 404 page is back to its normal, mustache-themed self, we're keeping the smoke monster page alive.
How World Market used email to begin a lovely brand + consumer relationship.
Sometimes a good email experience starts on a random Saturday afternoon while you're holding onto a rug and standing in a check-out line. World Market, known for affordable and stylish goods from around the world, does some savvy marketing that starts with the point of sale and heads right to the inbox. They use several best practices to build relationships with customers and keep them coming back for more.
When I was recently buying a World Market rug, the cashier asked me if I'd like to become a member of the World Market Explorer Rewards Program. She compared the program to a Kroger Plus Card program, assured me it was free and said I'd receive coupons if I signed up. So, of course, the bargain lover in me signed up: name, email and telephone number.
Simple enough. Expectations set. Bring on the coupons…
A day or so later, I got an email prompting me to set up my Explorer membership, confirming my interest with an official opt-in. After entering a couple of details (taking 15 seconds, tops), I received a 10-percent-off coupon in my inbox within minutes. (I already had my next rug purchase in mind.) What's especially important to note here is that World Market reached out as soon as I joined the list while my memory of signing up was fresh. Lots of organizations forget to do this, and they lose the opportunity to get people engaged right away.
A few days later, they sent me a $10 off coupon. I knew I would receive coupons, but two in one week was a nice surprise. I was further intrigued when the next email invited me to go to the World Market Preference Center to indicate my personal interests in their brand. World Market will use those details so they can send me content that they know interests me.
With one swift interaction and a couple of emails, World Market made me into a repeat buyer.
Takeaways for your own email strategy:
+ Let your subscribers know what they should expect when they sign up for your list, and follow up with them quickly. + Follow through and meet — or exceed, if possible — those expectations. + Engage your customers through email, listen to what they have to say and tailor your messages accordingly.
Adding social media icons to your email campaigns with Emma's new feature takes just a few seconds, but it can increase your reach and help you identify your most avid followers. Who knew all of that could be as simple as pushing a couple of buttons?
If you're new to this whole social networking thing — or if you know your way around Twitter and Facebook but just aren't sure whether you want to try the Social Sharing feature — take a look at these reasons we think it's worth doing. (And, of course, this new feature is free with your Emma account.)
+ To harness the reach of social media. A single share can be really powerful because of the number of followers that one email recipient can reach. How powerful could this be, you ask? Well, Facebook claims that the average user has 130 friends, so every 1,000 email subscribers represents a potential audience of 130,000 people! (Actually it's exponentially more than that because shared content can be shared further once it's in the network.)
+ To share the idea of, well, sharing. You may have readers who are already active on social networks and just haven't considered how their followers and friends could benefit from your content. It's a simple idea, but adding the icons to your emails helps connect those dots for your audience members who just haven't thought to share your campaigns with their contacts.
+ To grow your email list. This may seem obvious, but when your content is shared on social networks, it's typically being shared with a group of people who share common interests, so it's already likely relevant. With that in mind, we've made it easy for them to sign up from the landing page if they're interested in getting future emails from you. So not only might your email get shared … but you might also gain new subscribers.
+ To pave a road that's already being traveled. Even if you haven't seen it, your recipients might already be sharing your content. The new Social Sharing icons simply give them a shortcut to doing it easily. For an interesting case study in measuring the additional traffic from shared email content, take a peek at the story of SmartBrief in this MarketingSherpa article.
+ To pinpoint your most loyal fans. Having your audience share your content is quite an honor, of course, so you may want to provide something special for folks who regularly share or help you spread an important message. With Emma's enhanced reporting feature for Social Sharing, we've made creating that list of loyal fans simple for you.
How coding an email is different than coding a website … and why it matters.
Designers typically belong to one of two very different camps: print and web. But what about the HTML email designer? Email is its own breed, its own medium. If you ask any web designer who's designed and coded successful email campaigns about the process, a rant is sure to follow.
Web design allows for complicated, fancy code, and strict standards are in place to ensure functionality and success across browsers. Email, sadly, is not quite so lucky. While there may only be a handful of web browsers to consider when viewing a website, email programs number into the teens — and that's not including webmail and cellphone applications. In addition, every single email medium renders HTML differently. How, then, is a designer to create stylish *and* effective emails that look great across all programs?
Code email with style, not styles. Website design today often relies on Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which are generally housed in a separate document pulled externally by a website. Unfortunately, email programs just aren't that robust. If external CSS is referenced in the code, most email programs will mark the email as a security risk and either move it to the junk folder or not deliver it at all. These programs don't want your code messing up theirs, and they certainly don't want to risk an email pulling information from a nefarious source instead of an actual CSS document. This would be bad for them as well as the recipient.
The solution? Inline styles. Many of them are perfectly acceptable in most, if not all, email programs. The CSS font-family element, for example, is universally accepted, and it works best when placed directly in a <td> tag. Use this style to upgrade your font from plain old Times to something a bit more stylish (but still web-safe). You can check out this list of popular web-safe font families.
<td style="font-family: verdana, arial, sans-serif;"> sample text </td>
Keep in mind that what is OK today may be refused tomorrow, and using unaccepted inline styles can really affect the way your email designs look and act. Do your best to stay on top of the rules and test *every* email campaign. For a pretty complete list of which styles are and aren't accepted across the board, check out Campaign Monitor's handy list.
Keep it simple. It's also best to design and code your email in a table-based, grid-like way. Keep in mind that email does not work the same as a printed newsletter either. You cannot layer elements, and the grid structure must be linear. An item positioned at the bottom with content wrapping around it won't work very well in the code. Once you finish your design, never export your code from Photoshop. Code that sucker in Dreamweaver or another plaintext editor to make sure your code is clean and error-free.
All in all, coding an email campaign isn't as hard as you think:
Just use simple HTML akin to what was popular in the 90s.
Use inline styles as opposed to CSS.
And create your design using a clean, table-based structure and grid-like layout.
This post launches another new blog category for us: Design Tips. Each month, Emma's design team will give you tips to help you perfect your own email designs. Next time, we'll dig into how email marketing design is different than print marketing.
For our next installment of the Design Showcase, it is our distinct privilege to highlight a few cool companies in Denver, Colorado. The Mile-High City is not only the home of the Rocky Mountains, the Broncos and breweries galore, but it's also home to an Emma satellite office and, more specifically, Emma designer extraordinaire Leigh Bernstein.
Leigh has the opportunity to work with some truly great companies based in Denver, so we're taking a peek at what sets them apart as stand-out folks and email marketers.
Client: The Children's Museum of Denver Emma designer: Leigh Bernstein Design level: Concierge Design
The Children's Museum of Denver is a wonderful non-profit organization that asked Leigh to create something simple, but with distinct touches of their playful branding. For the header, she used bright colors and the signature bee from their website, and she included warm elements such as the ants and grass at the bottom of the design. Thanks to our friends at the museum for letting us play a role in their goal of teaching through play.
Kiwi Activewear is a small, spunky company made up of busy moms who see the importance of streamlining one's life and wardrobe. They depend on online sales and in-person trunk shows, so Sonya Peterson requested a whimsical design that would help them reach out to their customers effectively.
Leigh made the most of a decorative border that allows their campaign content to shine. The border works from one mailing to the next, regardless of the amount of content they wish to highlight.
Why does it work so well? The straight lines at the center allow for expansion. The design delighted Sonya and is a great representation of Kiwi.
Client: Impossible Emma designer: Leigh Bernstein Design level: Concierge Design
Located in the heart of Denver, the folks at Impossible spend their days using live action, design and visual effects to get brands noticed on television.
They love their website and with good reason: They've created a sleek aesthetic with their logo, and Leigh's goal was simply to make it translate easily into the custom stationery.
Leigh accomplished their desired look by employing a blue-to-black gradient, which fades in to a solid color halfway down to maximize flexibility.
The folks at Impossible love the design and have even been known to meet up with our Emma friends in Denver. My, how nice to be neighbors!
Client: Colorado AMA Emma designer: Leigh Bernstein Design level: Concierge Design
The American Marketing Association is the world's largest professional society of marketers, so you can imagine how we got excited to work with folks who love the whole of marketing as much as we do.
The Colorado branch of this amazing organization asked Leigh to take creative freedom without straying too far from their website.
She kept the logo prominent and added the eye-catching element of the newspapers to the header graphic. It maintains a simple look while staying close to the branding of the nationwide association.
Until next time … hugs, brand extension and crisp mountain air from your entire Emma design team.
When Nashville endured record-high rainfall and flooding over this past weekend, Hands On Nashville recognized that relief efforts would need to be large in scale and swift. Josh Corlew, HON's Emergency Preparedness Manager, sent a series of email campaigns urging folks to get involved and showing them where – and how – they could donate time or money. You can see recent campaigns here and here.
In a crisis that is being declared a federal disaster, Hands on Nashville is using the immediacy of email and social networking to their advantage: updating supporters when volunteer positions have filled, posting ongoing needs and keeping the spirit of urgency alive.
Of course, all of us at Emma are paying special attention to how nonprofits are helping during the flood since our main office is in Nashville. And we're pleased to have Hands On Nashville as one of our customers. But most of all, we're thrilled to see email and social networking sites play such a practical role in communicating, bringing people together and helping solve problems during a crisis.
A few ways to follow and support Hands On Nashville's efforts:
How a nonprofit used email and Twitter to inspire their supporters and win a full-page ad in USA Today.
The folks at To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) recently won a full-page ad in USA Today by using email and social media together in one simple, combined effort. By using Twitter to further their cause, the nonprofit — which helps people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide — found a way to inspire their supporters and score great publicity.
"What would we say to 4 million people?" began their April 15 campaign, referencing USA Today's enviable readership numbers. The email then reminded everyone how important grassroots communication has been in the history of the organization, which Jamie Tworkowski founded back in 2006.
In the email campaign, Tworkowski asked readers to tweet a specific phrase to enter USA Today's Twitter campaign for charity. The phrase? "Let's bring hope and help to America. Please RT: #AmericaWants @TWLOHA to get a full-page ad in USA Today."
One week later, TWLOHA sent a follow-up email campaign to share the good news — they won the contest.
"Right now, we simply want to say, 'Thank You.' Your support is indescribable. We have a voice because of yours. We are all in this together, this conversation about pain and hope," Tworkowski wrote to his supporters. Continuing the spirit of collaboration, the campaign encourages readers to use Twitter to share their ideas for what message should be included in the ad.
It's great to see nonprofits tap into the power of social networking as a way to extend their reach and find new people who also care about their mission. (By the way, Emma's new social sharing feature makes it easier than ever to pair up your email campaigns with social networks — you can try it out now in Emma Preview, if you want to see how it all works.)
Key takeaway: Look to your email subscribers to help you spread the gospel of your organization using social media mediums like Twitter.
With this new feature, everyone on your list has the opportunity to easily share your campaign with all of their friends and followers on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Why all the fuss about social sharing, you may ask? Because when you pair the steady reach of email marketing with the huge influence of social networks, you give your campaigns superhero-like powers.
Here's how Emma's new feature 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.
While this feature is in Preview, we'd love for you to try it out and send us your feedback through the Preview Bar running along the bottom of your account. Oh, and remember: Emma Preview is the place to see and test the latest feature upgrades, but it works just like your real Emma account with the same information and the same campaigns. So if you send, you're really sending.
If you want a few more details about how it all works, you can watch our how-to videos and learn more about social sharing in our help section. Or just log in to get started … cape and mask optional.
By the way, the superhero-inspired illustrations above are courtesy of Emma's own Elizabeth Williams, a member of our stellar design team.
Update:If you don't see this feature in your account, double-check that you've logged into Preview or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We're happy to help.