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Hollywood in your pocket: 7 tools for creating killer web content with your iPhone

Tom Martin
Last year, Tom interviewed 45 digital leaders for Talking with Tom.

Editor's note: Emma sponsored Tom's video project this year, and we were so intrigued by the idea of capturing video content on the go that we asked him to pass along his best tips.


For the last year, I've been managing my video blog Talking with Tom using nothing other than an iPhone. I've been interviewing digital thought leaders and then sharing those video interviews once a week via the site. That's right: shooting video, pictures, writing posts and publishing the entire thing using nothing but the iPhone.

I've learned a whole lot about what an iPhone can and cannot do. Along the way, my iPhone has become one of my favorite blog content creation tools. And today, I want to share seven of the most valuable tools I discovered along the journey.

A picture is worth 1,000 words

Easily the biggest advancement in the iPhone 4 was the camera. With the iPhone 4, you can actually shoot pretty decent photographs and HD video. But if you really want to kick it up a notch you need a few extra toys.

My go-to app for on-phone retouching is Photogene. The app lets you crop, alter colors, reduce the "noise" in a photo and basically take a normal shot and make it look pretty darn cool. So if you're running a food, travel or hotel blog, where pictures really are worth a thousand words, you might want to consider exploring all of the photo retouching apps in the app store.

My second favorite photo app is Big Lens. I'm a big fan of photos that use depth of field to place parts of the photo in focus while other parts are out of focus. The iPhone's camera doesn't give you that ability, but with Big Lens, you can. You can take photos through the app, or just pick photos from your camera roll and select which part of the photo to place in and out of focus. You can even adjust the fStop to increase or decrease the amount of blur. If you're in the food business or restaurant business, this one is a must-have on your iPhone.

Can you hear me now?

The problem with native iPhone audio is the microphone. It's just not that good. The good news is this is easily fixed.

First, to ensure optimum audio, you need an external mic. For basic audio interviews, where your intention is to use the entire iPhone like a microphone and point it at your interviewee while they speak, pick up Brando Mini Directional mic. This little gem is small, lightweight and perfect for conducting one-on-one interviews at conferences and meet-ups.

You'll like this mic because it is small enough to comfortably carry in your pocket and just snap it into to the headphone jack when you're ready to record. Then, just point the mic in the direction of your subject and start recording. What you'll get is audio that is much better in terms of loudness and clarity. But, I also find that it amps up all of the audio. So, while it is directional, you still need a pretty quiet place to record.

To get the best audio, you'll need a professional grade microphone. The problem is, the iPhone can't accept regular microphones that use the standard 3.5mm jack. To solve the iPhone's microphone incompatibility problem, you'll need to buy a KV Connection iPhone Microphone Adapter. It runs about $20, but with it, you can attach any microphone (that has a 3.5mm plug) to the iPhone – this includes wireless lavaliere microphones like the one I use for all of my stuff.

Once you've got this little gem, just find a professional grade microphone that you really like and you're off.

Shooting like Spielberg (sort of)

Probably my favorite use of the iPhone (at least for blog content creation) is its video capabilities. While Apple's built-in video recording tool will give you basic trimming capabilities, you'll have to spend a few bucks to bring the world of video editing to your phone.

For all of my Talking with Tom videos, I've used iMovie. iMovie makes it easy to trim, split and edit clips. You can add a voice-over or soundtrack, even insert title slides (jpegs) or in my case, sponsor slides, and apply titles and transitions – all on the phone. Then you can render and publish directly to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, CNNiReport (for which they even offer a video template for titles and such) or just send it to your camera roll to be imported to your computer. If you're a big Vimeo user, Vimeo came out with their own editing app, but I've found it a bit buggy thus far. Lastly, if you are shooting in a place where you just can't get good lighting, try picking up the Flare app, which also gives you the ability to zoom while you video (can't do that in the iPhone's native video app) as well as apply HDR effects, etc.

You'll also want to keep that iPhone steady, which can be hard as the iPhone doesn't have a native mount for hooking it up to a tripod. No worries, though: order a Glif. It's a Kickstarter project that resulted in a nice, small, simple way to mount your iPhone on any standard tripod.

And that's it – my seven favorite tools that led me to creating better content with my iPhone. If you want more, feel free to grab a copy of my 28 Tips and Tricks for Creating Killer Content with an iPhone presentation from BlogWorld.

What do you think? Do you have any tips for using your iPhone to create better blog content? Any cool new iPhone content creation tools you've seen that I haven't? Do share!


Tom Martin is the founder of Converse Digital. Tom works with companies and agencies to help them monitor, create and engage in digital conversation to grow market share and increase customer loyalty. He blogs at Positive Disruption and can be reached by email at

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Typography 101: Know your serif

Get familiar with a few typographical terms and see your font library in a whole new way

The printer wasn't always a machine that sat in the corner of your office, beeping out cryptic warning messages and accumulating slap-shaped handprints. Even a few decades ago, most people would have thought of a printer as a person — somebody whose work consisted of manually arranging and printing text and images. Professional printers are still plying and improving upon their trade, but thanks to the advent of the personal computer, we've inherited a great many of their tools in digital form. The problem? When those tools arrived, they didn't come with any knowledge of the craft. It's as though every computer owner has been given the keys to a master carpenter's workshop, but hasn't yet been shown how to swing a hammer.

Luckily, you don't have to don a hooded robe and take the Typographer's Oath to get a better handle on the fundamentals of your favorite fonts. In fact, once you've learned a few terms and distinctions, you may find yourself looking at your font options in a whole new way. So if you want to be able to talk typefaces like Leon from sales can talk about wine, pull up a chair.

Today, we'll take a look at one of the most easily distinguished characteristics of fonts: the serif. But first, in order to understand the significance of the serif, it'll be helpful to start off with a tiny bit of history.

Typography: a very condensed history

It's almost impossible to fathom the fact that, for the majority of its history, the written word was exactly that –handwritten (or hand-carved). Many would suggest that the questions typography addresses are as old as the first alphabet. The size, spacing, legibility and uniformity of hieroglyphic characters would have certainly been a worthy concern — after all, if your "owl" looked too much like your "scarab," readers would surely throw down your papyrus in frustration.

In the Western world, medieval scribes fostered a rich tradition of variations in handwritten scripts before the advent of the Gutenberg press in the mid-1400′s. Generally, it's said that this invention, with its reliance on uniform, custom carved letters, heralded the advent of typography as we know it today. The emergence of distinctive sets of letters and characters during this time is also largely responsible for some of typography's more archaic-sounding distinctions: gothic type? Roman type? What century are we living in?

Web-safe fonts

Hundreds of years and thousands of meticulously designed typefaces later, we're awash in a sea of font options. Just opening up the dropdown menu in Word is enough to give the average user an anxiety attack. Web- and email-based tools like Emma make the decision a little easier. Have you ever noticed that your reading experience on the web is fairly uniform, and usually pretty painless? Web designers can't be certain which fonts your device will come equipped with, so they'll often restrict themselves to "web-safe fonts" — fonts that can be read on any device — to ensure that their readers see their content as they intended it. This is also the case with Emma's font selection: instead of the Narnia wardrobe of fonts typically employed in desktop word processing programs, you'll see 15 of the most versatile, popular and readable fonts available. There's a lot of character in these sets of characters, so let's take a look at one way you can distinguish them.


Look at these two N's. Notice a difference? The Times New Roman N on the left has little finishing strokes in all of the places where an individual line terminates; the Helvetica N on the right doesn't. Those are called serifs. Easy, right? If serifs were just called "little taily things," no formal introduction would be required!

For many, the serif conveys an old-fashioned elegance, and that sentiment has roots in typographical history. Serifs are said by some to emulate the initial placement of a flat paintbrush on a surface to shape a letter for a stone engraving — a bit of calligraphic flourish from an era that predates the printed word. In print (and especially in newsprint) serifed fonts are said to have greater readability. Readability actually doesn't refer to whether the individual letters can be easily distinguished — that's legibility. Instead, readability refers to the ease with which a reader can follow along over longer sections of text. Proponents of serifed fonts often contend that the additional finishing strokes help distinguish letter shapes and assist in guiding the eye horizontally across the page.

Times New Roman may be the most commonly used serifed font in the workplace today, thanks largely to its long reign as the default font in Microsoft programs like Word and Excel. As Word goes, so go many word processing programs, including our own. Times New Roman is a taut, functional font, but among typographers, its suitability as serifed fonts' standard bearer is hotly contested. In fact, it's no longer in use by The Times, the London newspaper who commissioned its creation and gave it its namesake back in 1931. For web use, many point to Georgia as a suitable alternative — the lowercase letters are closer in size to the uppercase ones, so even at small point sizes, the individual letters are larger and more easily read. Perhaps this is why the Times that we're better acquainted with here in the States – The New York Times — employs Georgia as their main typeface for web headlines and articles. For those seeking a font that evokes an even earlier time in history — say, the Italian Renaissance — you might want to consider Book Antiqua. This serifed font boasts greater calligraphic stylization in its strokes, but its thicker lines and broader letters also make it highly readable.

Sans-serif fonts

Now that we've identified our serif, we need only dust off our French textbooks to identify our sans-serif fonts: sans means without. You may have noticed that the text on this page is sans-serif — the lines of the letters terminate without any ornamentation. The same is probably true of the typefaces in your email inbox and on your favorite news sites: in addition to their immense popularity in the material world, sans-serif typefaces enjoy special prominence on the web, where text is likely to be compact and frequently scrolled. In the pioneer days of digital typography, the clear lines of sans-serif fonts proved well-suited to pixel-based screens. Where ornately serifed fonts could dissolve into unwieldy, blocky characters, the cleaner sans-serif fonts could survive the pixelation more or less intact. While modern high-definition screens have all but eliminated pixelation as a serious text issue, the enhanced white space offered by thin, sans-serif characters is also thought to ease the reader's eye when scanning an illuminated screen. This may be especially true of smaller screens — the default typefaces for all major mobile devices are sans-serif.

Consciously or not, this techie association has only strengthened the infatuation with the presumed clean, spare modernism of sans-serif fonts. Although sans-serif fonts aren't a uniquely modern invention (serif-free Greek characters predate the Roman Empire, and their introduction in print dates back to the early 1800s), there's a ring of truth to their association with modernism. This is especially true of Helvetica, popular design's undisputed champion of the last decade. As illuminated in Gary Hustwit's engrossing 2007 documentary, Helvetica, this striking Swiss font has become one of the most ubiquitous emblems of contemporary life. Engineered during the 1950s in accordance with the modernist ideal — abandoning the trappings of classical ornamentation in favor of clean, spare functionality — Helvetica has emerged as the rare font with rockstar status among design lovers. Emma customer service specialist and man of style Miles Price sometimes even wears his Helvetica T-shirt to the office. If Helvetica can be likened to a rock band, though, its closest analogue is probably U2: it's wildly popular, critically laurelled, seemingly timeless and an easy target for ridicule. In fact, a great many trend-setting designers are consciously distancing themselves from Helvetica (and its Microsoft-commissioned, Emma-friendly cousins, Tahoma, Verdana and Arial). Consequently, while the sans-serif font remains a bastion of modernity, the design world has enjoyed a renaissance of ornately serifed fonts, both in print and on the web.

And beyond

Fortunately for the art form, there are plenty of font choices available beyond serif and sans-serif options. Many typefaces belong to different families entirely. Still, most fonts within your Emma account can be considered either serif or sans-serif, as can most of the text you encounter over the course of your day.

Fascinating stuff, right? Once you know where to look, you'll spot all kinds of places where a change in typeface changes the feeling of an entire message. One of those places may be in your own email campaigns, so if you feel like subtly altering your voice without changing your message, now you've got something other than your intuition to help guide your choice.

Cody's not a Certified Font Specialist, but he found a wealth of typographical information within the Emma design team, as well as in these posts from Co.Design, I Love Typography and Alex Poole.


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A roundup of successful holiday campaigns

Taking a peek at four email campaigns by the Union Square Hospitality Group

If you crafted and sent out your holiday emails on time this year, give yourself a pat on the back. There's a sense of relief that comes with negotiating the busy holiday season and getting your newsletter out before the new year. But make sure you haven't checked the task off your list and forgotten about it. Now's the time to review your holiday response rates and learn from them as you kick off your 2012 email marketing efforts.

Let's take a look at a few email campaigns crafted by Emma agency partner, Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG). USHG includes some of New York City's best known restaurants, including Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, The Modern and Maialino. These four campaigns carry representative looks and strong response rates — and serve as fitting case studies for welcoming in the new year.

The Perfect Last Minute Gift

Union Square Hospitality Group

In this snowflake-themed campaign, USHG has fun with a split test of sorts. Can you guess which button earned more clicks? In fact, the gift card button edged out the e-gift certificate button by just 2%.

+ Sent on Wednesday, December 21st at 9:00 am to 69,892 people
+ Subject line: The Perfect Last Minute Gift
+ Open rate: 19.58%
+ Click-through rate: 6.16%
+ Shares: 23

Why it works: There's a sense of whimsy in the design — and the sentiment. Plus, the two buttons are a source of education for USHG; they'll be able to see who clicked where and follow up with other relevant offers, if they like.

View the full campaign

Winter News from The Modern

The Modern

This festive winter campaign, created on an Upload Your Own HTML template, captures the sophistication of The Modern and shares, among other things, details of its New Year's Eve line-up.

+ Sent on Tuesday, December 20th at 11:17 am to 10,497 people
+ Subject line: Winter News from The Modern
+ Open rate: 31.33%
+ Click-through rate: 1.92%
+ Shares: 6

Why it works: The email provides a consistent brand experience with The Modern's website, and with a mix of compelling content, it's an easy email to navigate.

View the full campaign

Happy Holidays from Gramercy Tavern

Gramercy Tavern

Gramercy Tavern's holiday email is short 'n' sweet. It's also personal, featuring a "season's eatings" photo of the tavern's employees (after the click).

+ Sent on Tuesday, December 20th at 9:00 am to 7,949 people
+ Subject line: Happy Holidays from Gramercy Tavern!
+ Open rate: 31.41%
+ Click-through rate: 47.39%
+ Shares: 4

Why it works: Talk about piquing curiosity. Nearly half of email openers clicked through to view the photo. When average click-throughs hover around 6%, a spike like this is a coup.

View the full campaign

Union Square Cafe Newsletter - Winter 2011

Union Square Cafe

Created on Emma's blank template and utilizing an Advanced 7 layout, this campaign by Union Square Cafe follows the format of a traditional newsletter. A departure from their usual campaigns coded from scratch, the built-in layout allows them to revise each newsletter without pulling in a designer from their team — a definite time-saver.

+ Sent on Thursday, December 15th at 1:03 pm to 19,140 people
+ Subject line: Union Square Cafe Newsletter – Winter 2011
+ Open rate: 27.18%
+ Click-through rate: 14.96%%
+ Shares: 5

Why it works: The campaign makes use of space by providing short story blurbs that link to the full scoop elsewhere. Moreover, it plays with content placement. Convention would tell us that the top story in your campaign will earn the highest clicks; in this case, the link to the recipe for Ménage à Pommes is the most popular. Union Square Cafe's audience is an engaged bunch, happy to spend some time with the campaign and comb it for their favorite stories.

View the full campaign

Ready to interpret your holiday response rates? Here are some things to look for:

  • Compare the numbers … Use our campaign compare feature to see how your holiday results stack up against the prior month's mailing — or against your holiday results from last year. Then, see how they compare to industry averages.
  • … But only the numbers that matter to you. It doesn't make a lot of sense to compare click-throughs to your Facebook page if that wasn't the one of the goals of your holiday campaign. Instead, focus on metrics that correspond to your intended goals. Look for places where you fell short, and adjust the approach of your next mailing.
  • Plan a follow-up. When people click on links in your campaign, they're telling you that they're interested enough to learn more. Armed with that knowledge, make plans to send a smaller, targeted mailing to the audience members who are most likely to read and engage.
  • Prepare for the next mailing. Do the response results of your holiday mailing seem interesting but inconclusive? Have a hunch about why your subject line enticed more people to open? Set up a split test in your next mailing to test your theory. Read more about subject line split tests in Cassie's post.

If you have questions along the way, we'd love to help. Comment here, or reach out to our support team.


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A savvy agency gets acquainted with Emma’s new API

Tim Frick, founder of Mightybytes, talks about the integrations he's building for his clients
Tim Frick, Mightybytes' Founder
Tim tells us what's next for Mightybytes + Emma.

Emma's agencies are always on the lookout for more efficient ways to market themselves and reach their clients. From outsourcing print production jobs to downloading the newest social media management tools, they want to manage their customer and prospect base with smarter tools and fewer clicks.

And we want to help simplify their jobs. As part of our Featurepalooza, we're releasing a slew of new features to Emma accounts, and our new API is at the center of the action. Tim Frick, founder of Mightybytes, jumped at the opportunity to be an early API beta tester.

As a smallish shop with an eye toward design-driven marketing solutions, Mightybytes has many things to manage on top of their client workload. Tim quickly identified some integration possibilities using Emma's API, and we were thrilled to have him share the details with us.

What are your clients looking for when they decide to start doing business with you?
We navigate the waters of corporate and nonprofit clients with equal proficiency. A lot of the clients we deal with are cause-driven – we help them prosper, grow and achieve their goals in a measurable way. We work with them on everything from strategic business and digital marketing consulting, which often includes email and social campaigns that build brand awareness, to developing and building online applications for core business function.

Why did you decide to get involved in our API project early on? Tell me about the work you're doing and planning.
We've been exploring web-based product development for some time now. We've even prototyped a few things but haven't brought any of our own products to market yet. The release of Emma's API and the company's invite to be part of the beta development program gave us the perfect opportunity to put one of our product ideas — a syncing tool for CRMs (like Highrise, Salesforce, SugarCRM) and email marketing systems — into full swing development.

We are currently working on two projects using Emma's API. The first is an integration app called Swapley, which will manage communication between Highrise and Emma. We're about 50% complete for version 1.0.

The second, which we're mapping out now, will be an Emma module for a content management system (CMS), Drupal. The Drupal module will help us expand our service offerings and give customers better tools to integrate content marketing strategies with easy-to-use tools that support integration of multiple systems.

What are some of your goals for the Swapley and Drupal projects, and how do you see them working for your current clients?
Our clients turn to us for online solutions that integrate good marketing, design and content with other core online business functions (like a CRM, donations, content management and so on.) Having the ability to integrate Emma and Highrise features will not only help with our internal prospecting, but will also streamline efficiencies on solutions we build for clients.

Specifically, with our proposed Drupal integration, our clients will be able to easily create Emma-based mailings with branded templates from within a content management system. Also, many of these sites and tools have registered users. We envision the Emma/Drupal module offering would help customers cross-reference those who have registered on their site versus those who are email recipients. Eventually, it would be nice if this information could be easily shared with a CRM as well, so all systems are in sync.

How will this integration affect the way you think about on-boarding new clients and prospects?
Having access to the Emma API will definitely increase our productivity and allow us to build tools that make it easy for clients to choose Emma as a preferred ESP alongside other services we offer. Before, as a firm with a reputation for implementing technically challenging yet design-driven web solutions, we often wrestled with how to roll Emma's great email marketing services into our process. The release of Emma's API definitely set off light bulbs above our collective heads. We see huge opportunities to integrate Emma's services directly into the solutions we build for clients via the API and apps we build with it. Mightybytes has already lined up several potential clients for our Highrise integration app and interest seems to be great there. Several other ideas for using the Emma API to build web apps are piquing our interest as well.

Do you have any advice for other Emma agencies that are considering whether to dedicate resources to API integration?
The new API documentation and forums should go a long way in helping developers understand the application development process. Using Emma's tools makes it easier for them to bring new integrations to market. You all (Emma's tech team) have been very supportive as we develop our own apps. We appreciate Emma's commitment to good design and excellent usability — these are traits we share. With that in mind, agencies looking to create their own integrations should undergo thorough user testing throughout the entire development process to keep standards high and apps usable.

Learn more about Mightybytes:

  • Visit their website.
  • Signup for their newsletter, Mightymail Quarterly.
  • Check out their blog.
  • If you're currently using Highrise and are interested in connecting with Emma, sign up for more information about Swapley.


Ready to try Emma's API?

We're rolling out Emma's new platform and brand new API on a limited basis. If you'd like to be first in line, let us know.

Every picture tells a story

How stock photos add visual appeal to your emails
Jessica Hughes : Fotolia
Jessica enjoys a ferry ride from Victoria to Vancouver. (We're jealous.)


Today's guest post is written by Jessica Hughes, social media and public relations specialist at Fotolia . Learn more on the Fotolia blog , or follow Fotolia on Twitter .


When you think about your creative content, many factors come to play: your copy, your font choices, the layout and, of course, the images you choose to communicate your message. In short, looks count.

It's no secret – incorporating an image is powerful! It's a fun way to engage and capture attention. What's more, including imagery boosts your campaign's impact and drives traffic to your site. The key is finding the right image to match your message. Here are seven rules and examples that show how to pack the perfect visual punch.

Rule 1: Grab your reader's attention. You only have a few seconds to get your reader's attention, and a sharp image will reel them in fast. Use clever imagery to compel people to read on so that your overall message is delivered from soup to nuts.



Rule 2: Use visual aids to enhance communication. You know that old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words?" Considering that you don't have a thousand words to interest an email recipient, why not let an image state your case? Choosing unique visuals that tell the story for you is an efficient way to get your point across.



Rule 3: Be bold. Avoid being too literal. Yes, your image will be subjective and influenced by your content to some degree, but consider other angles to make an impression. There are millions upon millions of royalty-free images available to you, so enjoy your image browsing and dare to be different.



Rule 4: Consider images that feature people. People like to look at people. Studies show that one of the reasons Facebook is such a hit is because of our fascination with what other people do. By nature, humans feel a need to relate to others. Using images with a person increases your chance of drawing your audience in.



Rule 5: Stay current. As tastes and styles change, so should your mindset for the way you choose images. While your intention for a certain image may be to show that you're edgy, you wouldn't want to turn anyone off. Get a feel for the lay of the land before you send. What's new politically, socially or stylishly? You can be retro and still be cool, but do keep up with the Joneses.



Rule 6: Know your (image) rights. Get your pictures from a source that specializes in royalty-free stock photography. As tempting as it is to snag a picture from a free source like Google, it's just not legal. Stock photography sites give you peace of mind and creative license. When you have rights to an image, you can modify it and turn it into something that completely embodies what you want to communicate. The avenues for creativity are limitless, and you better believe no one else will have an image like yours if you play it up.



Rule 7: Mind your specs. Aside from selecting an image that suits your concept, pay attention to colors and contrast –- they're part of the "wow" factor, too. The colors in your image should complement the remainder of your content, including font styles and other branding. Resolution, aspect ratios and formats vary, so check out Fotolia's usage guide to help determine what kind of image is the best match for your project.



There you have it. Seven tips to help you pick a fantastic image for whatever your needs may be. Remember, your image should be the butter to your bread. The dynamic sidekick to your content's super hero. Helping fight crime and take the world one villain at a time. Or, wait … What I'm really trying to say is that the right image can help your message resonate with a resounding "POW." So sock it to 'em.

Lifecycle mailings help you reach your audience at the right time

Email examples for different stages of the subscriber relationship

If you plan on catching up on your Sophocles over the holidays and you'd like to avoid spoilers, you might want to skip these next few lines: they give away the answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx. Ready? What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon and on three legs in the evening? The answer: a man, who crawls on all fours as a baby, walks on two legs as an adult and uses a cane in old age.

Consider this: there's a morning, noon and evening (of sorts) to your email subscriber's relationship with you, too. And, just like our riddle's subject, your subscribers will benefit from a little extra help in the different phases of it. That's where lifecycle emails come in.

Lifecycle mailings are your opportunity to customize your readers' experience from the very beginning — and to tailor consequent messages to the different stages of your relationship with them. For example, you might send a welcome email early on to offer new subscribers help getting started. Or, you might offer a unique deal or extra appreciation to active subscribers (those that regularly open, click or share your email). On the flip slide, you might want to give special attention to subscribers who have lapsed into inactivity. Lifecycle emails are a great way to show subscribers that you're aware of the connections you're building with them. Best of all, they really work. As MarketingSherpa reports, targeted mailings increase open rates by as much as 30% over non-targeted ones.

Emma's trigger mailings and audience search capabilities make it easy to set up an automated lifecycle mailing program that meets your audience members wherever they are in their customer relationship. Looking for a little inspiration? Here are a few examples from companies that make lifecycle messaging a central part of their email strategy.

Welcome message series


Ebay welcomes new members in a series of emails.

You've got to crawl before you can walk, right? Your new subscribers are a special group: they've just joined your audience, they're eager to learn more and they won't know what to expect from your mailings. They're also among your most engaged readers. A 2010 report from Experian Marketing Services indicated that the average open rate for welcome messages is as much as four times higher than the normal mailing.

Your welcome message is your first opportunity to tell new subscribers what they should know about you. As Molly demonstrates in this blog post, crafting great welcome emails is something of an art form. And sometimes, one welcome message may not be enough. I received a welcome email from Ebay on the day I opened my account. Then, two days later, I received a follow-up message with additional tips on getting started. There's a lot to learn about how to use Ebay — so much so that it can be a little daunting for the uninitiated, and I appreciated the extra messaging.

Think about creating a series of welcome emails. They'll help your new subscribers learn to navigate your service and offerings over time.

Anniversary messages


Redbox sends a note on your customer anniversary.

They grow up so fast, don't they? After the first few months, your new subscribers aren't so new anymore. If your messages are relevant and you're targeting the right people, your subscribers mature into readers who don't need as much handholding in their messages. And after their peak activity as early subscribers, your regular readers' activity tends to level out as they make their own decisions about which messages and offers hold the most appeal to them. But even though they're standing on their own feet now, they'll still appreciate a specialized message every so often. In this eye-catching anniversary message, Redbox rewards their subscribers with a free rental. For your audience, it may be a free cup of coffee or just a follow-up check-in, but recognizing milestones in the relationship is a great way to let your readers know that you value them.

Re-engagement campaigns


Chico's lets you know that you've been missed.

Even if you have the most engaged of email audiences, it's normal to have a batch of inactive subscribers, too. In fact, you may see 20 to 30 percent of an email audience lost to bounced emails and unsubscribes over the course of a year. Since a 2007 Return Path study indicated that only 22% of business professionals actually unsubscribed from emails they no longer wished to receive, that means that, at any given moment, your audience is likely to contain recipients who have moved past their prime as responsive audience members.

What to do? A targeted mailing to the unresponsive section of your audience is a great way to reconnect with lapsed subscribers. A simple audience search in Emma can help you target everyone in your audience who hasn't opened a mailing in a set period of time (a year is a safe place to start).

This re-engagement campaign from Chico is an example of solid messaging for inactive subscribers. It acknowledges that the reader hasn't been active in a while without sounding creepy, and it gives a strong incentive to re-engage with the brand. If you're planning a re-engagement campaign for your own audience, remember that tone is everything — keep it sincere and conversational. "We haven't heard from you in a while" is a much better way to connect with a lapsed subscriber than "It looks like you haven't opened an email campaign in 12 months." You want your audience to feel that you're listening to them, not that you're watching them like a hawk.

Re-engagement campaigns will win back some audience members who would otherwise have wandered off into the sunset, but it's important to keep realistic expectations: if they haven't responded up until this point, many of your audience members may have reached the end of their day. After giving these members a few opportunities to come back into the fold, it may be time to remove them from your list.

And, don't despair — as one section of your audience is going gently into that good night, there's a whole other section whose day is just beginning. Catch folks — and speak to them — where they're at, and you'll be on your way to a solid list of engaged subscribers.

The Emma 25 honorees are here!

Meet the 25 incredible small charities that just got free Emma service for life

Emma 25 is here, awarding email marketing service to deserving nonprofits
One of our favorite holiday traditions at the Emma shop is our Emma 25 program, in which we award a lifetime of free Emma email marketing service to 25 small nonprofits who've applied for it.

This year, we were once again astounded by the quantity and quality of nonprofits that applied, each one as deserving as the next.

The missions of this year's honorees vary — helping kids with disabilities ride bikes, fighting human trafficking around the world, supporting design that elevates social issues — but each one spoke to us in a unique way.

We've posted the full list of honorees here. Help us honor these organizations by getting to know them, and keep them in mind as you consider your year-end giving, too.

Oh, and thanks for being a part of the Emma Community. After all, it's your support that powers our giving, and we couldn't do it without you. Cheers!

Growing your email audience

A primer to start building your email list easily and effectively


Signup Form
Taco Mamacita wisely mixes required and optional fields in their signup form.
When I was a kid, I was cursed with the summer birthday blues. When my July birthday hit, I'd be ready to celebrate, but since I didn't have a classroom to share the news (or the cupcakes) with, I didn't get any of the attention that's lavished on those lucky enough to be born during the school-year months.


It's a frustrating feeling to have a great announcement to make, but no audience to hear it — just ask any business owner who's just beginning to build their email audience list. Your news may be more about software updates or new product lines than cupcakes, but the challenge remains: If the classroom doesn't come to you, how do you find the right folks to share in your celebration?

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to find the right audience members and play well with Emma's permission policy, too. With a little advance planning, you'll set yourself up to share your brand with the right folks — and engage them from the start.

If you're new to email marketing and not sure how to attract subscribers, follow these tips to get your program up and running:

  1. Create a strong signup form. Your signup form is the perfect place to gather all the subscriber information you need to know. Make a clear distinction between what you must have (mark it as required) and what can be shared at your subscribers' discretion. You might need to know their zip codes to send them accurate info about a store in their area, but you don't need to send birthday coupons to everyone — just the folks who choose to fill in their date of birth. Remember, subscribers may abandon your form if they feel that the process is too long or intrusive. Also, let your subscribers know what to expect as a new member of your list. Will you be sending daily, weekly, monthly or on some other schedule? Will they see promotions along with newsletters? Can they pick and choose the news types they want to receive?
  2. Identify all of your customer touch-points, and get used to asking folks to join your email list. Think beyond your website for a moment. Does your company send transactional emails? Do you tweet? Have a Facebook page? You'll reach the biggest audience by making your email signup forms as visible as possible in as many places as possible, so identify your points of contact. And think beyond your online presence. Put a fishbowl near your store's register so customers can sign up by dropping in their business cards. Encourage your sales team to bring up your newsletter in their daily calls or demo classes. Even include a link to your signup form in your own email signature. Every interaction is an opportunity to build a relationship.
  3. Create a welcome trigger. Catch your subscribers when their curiosity is piqued: right when they sign up. Your automatic welcome emails can net four times the normal open rate and five times the normal click-through rate. A welcome email is the perfect time to reinforce the benefits of your newsletter, give subscribers a discount on their next purchase or simply thank them for signing up.
  4. Ask subscribers to share your emails with their networks. Then, provide unique and entertaining content so they can't help but do so. Incentivize the share, too. Reward those who share with a special coupon or unique content from your brand. That's a built-in loyalty program!

Give a little thought (and a lot more action) to these four tips, and you'll be growing your email list in no time.

This is part one in our blog series on audience growth. In our next installment, we'll talk about more ways to maintain a healthy, engaged list.


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