Recently, we've started featuring pictures and stories of Emma customers in our ads that run in various cities around the countries, showing how they use Emma's email marketing services to grow their brand in style. Now that I've been working at Emma's satellite office in Denver for 6 months, we wanted to show off an Emma customer that's particularly well known and loved in the Mile High City. Tokyo Joe's, a local favorite to many Coloradans, came to mind right away. In my lunches with Linden Mundekis, Joe's director of digital marketing, I learned that they've long been courted to be franchised and shared with the rest of the fast-food loving, Japanese-style, sushi-eating world. Vowing to keep it local and not stretch beyond Colorado's borders, Joe's appreciates those returning customers – "addicts," in Joe's language – who show almost fanaticism towards the lifestyle and culture this 17-location restaurant establishment creates and encourages. Having gone through 3 Addicts cards myself, I think I safely qualify.
Anyway, here's the ad that's started running in the Westword. If you're in Denver, be sure and take a look, and stop by Joe's for a bowl! The Yakatori bowl is fabulous, and after ordering it 36 times, I should know.
Those of us on the development team here at Emma spend a lot of time online. Many of us have been using the Internet in some form since the days of dial-up BBSes and acoustic couplers.
We like to think we have seen a lot of the web and that we are familiar with the best of the best. To that end, we invite you to agree or disagree with what each of us thinks is one great website. Some are work-related, if only tangentially, some are simply cool applications which we admire from a technology point of view, and some are just great ways to explore the things that interest us away from the computer. Yes, we are occasionally allowed to step away from building new features.
Hernan gets great ideas and advice from Jakob Nielsen's UseIt. "About 10 years ago, I attended a presentation given by Jakob where he discussed the importance of information architecture and website usability long before anybody really cared about those things. He provided some great tips on building websites that will attract users by making it simple for them to find the information they want, instead of just foisting a whole bunch of press releases and unnecessary graphics upon them. His website has an archive of all his posts since 1995 (under "All Alertbox columns") and is a great resource for anybody looking to publish a web page or that will actually be read by the intended audience."
Keeping up to date with the fast-changing programming world is made easy for Matt with the Reddit – Programming feed. "It used to be that we had a 'yellowpages' for the internet that was a directory of every webpage on the planet, in one book. However, as this internet fad has continued more and more sites have blossomed, it has become hard to find new resources to see what is happening in the tech world. That's why one of the sites that I use most is the reddit programming feed. It's a good look into what's new and what's going on in the technology/programming world."
Kim, our uber-productive Director of Product Development, keeps everything on track with tips from the Lifehacker Blog. "Lifehacker's dedication to finding efficient, innovative, or sometimes just plain strange ways of getting things done and optimizing work-flow is a great source of ideas and inspiration. Hearing about great extensions and utilities to streamline what techies have to keep up with during the day has been super helpful, and hey – who doesn't want to know how to rehab old speakers into a media cabinet? And speaking of utilities that help keep mundane tasks fun and engaging, I'll give a shout out to flickr and picnik, who managed to make something as simple as reordering photos or quick photo editing a pleasure rather than something I'd rather rip my nails off than do."
According to Chris, content rules at RUKind.org. "One website that is not tech-related but has an awesome wealth of info on it is www.rukind.org. It's hippie stuff to the bone but the link to other related sites, as well as the amount of updated, cool info you can get there is incredible. It looks really old school, but if the old adage of 'content over prettiness' still holds, I'd take this one any day."
When it comes to keeping in sync, I use DropBox. Dropbox provides a dead-simple way to sync files (images, word documents, anything) across several machines, access these files online (in a secure way), and even share these files with friends via a simple web link. It's a combination of a downloadable application and a website, but what makes Dropbox's offering really compelling is how simple it is to use. You just don't have to do much to it to sync files, and getting a link to a file for a friend is two or three clicks away. It's a great example of how technology helps make complicated tasks easy and accessible. It might be great way for a small office to make sure everyone can access the latest vacation calendar or get to those image assets for the next email campaign.
This is just a small sample of the websites that keep us working, learning, and exploring. What sites help you make it through your day?
Adding photos to your stylish emails can now be a walk in the park with the help of Picnik, a free online service that allows you to edit, crop, & re-size your photos.
Services like Picnik can add a lot to the look and feel of your email newsletter design. Do you have any large or oddly-sized photos lying around that you'd like to include in an email campaign? With Picnik, you can easily pull those photos from your desktop, scale or crop them to the perfect size and save the new and improved image. Having a consistent image size throughout your campaign will improve the overall aesthetic and increase the readability of the content, not to mention all the positive feedback you'll receive from your audience members! For an example, check out Ad Age's email.
Still not convinced? Here's another good reason to give this site a try. For those of you who simply want to pull the header from your website and resize it for use in emails, Picnik's got you covered. In addition to editing photos from your desktop, Picnik enables you to edit them directly from any website (including sites like Photobucket or Facebook ). Type in the URL to your personal or business website and, like magic, all of the images hosted there will appear on Picnik. Just choose the header image & scale it down! We recommend keeping the width of your email header between 600 and 650 pixels.
After using a tool as fabulous as Picnik, you'll be able to create visually stunning emails in no time. You might even have time for a real picnic…
With June behind us, we're officially halfway through 2008, the year we set out to plant a tree for every new customer who joins Emma. I'm pleased to announce that we've planted a whopping 10,855 trees so far this year, with the latest batch from June on their way to Wisconsin soil to find a home.
Of course, now it's July, and that means it's time to vote on a new location for half of this month's trees. Remember, the other half goes to the equatorial region of Plant-It 2020′s choice (they're our fabulous partner in all this tree planting business). Also, remember that the states we ask you to vote on come from Plant-It 2020′s list of pre-approved non-harvest sites – it's not that we're biased toward states like Wisconsin, although few Emma staffers would turn down a lovely aged white cheddar. Anyway, take a moment and tell us where you'd like to send some trees…
This week, I took a moment to ask my fellow comrades in Emma's design department to share some web goodness with the rest of the world and share where they go to get inspired. What are some of their sites to live by (or at least design by)? Here are a few gems:
For some good design talk, Jessica never passes up a good read at Speak Up. "There is always a hot debate about a new design or theory. Reading everyone's feedback is not only entertaining, but very informative. There are often good tips and tricks mentioned throughout."
Taylor keeps her homepage locked on goodmagazine.com. "They're always really interesting and informative, but usually more on a positive note. I love the design of both the magazine and the site. And they have a blog too." This is a great resource for information on topics such as creative ways to do good in the world and the extinction of bananas.
As for me, I like to get my daily dose of inspiration from Design*Sponge. With an average of 6-10 posts a day, the site covers everything that is design, from modernistic chandeliers to typography to where to find a good art gallery in Denmark. Also, the D-I-Y section can bring out the creative in anyone.
What design site keeps you coming back for more? Please leave a comment & inspire us.
Or would-be superheroes, anyhow. We just posted our latest Ask Emma Q&A newsletter, featuring three quick ways to be the office email hero with our latest recent audience activity feature. The cape is entirely optional.
When we moved into the new Emma digs in January, we weren't sure what to do with all the extra wall space (not to mention other amenities like "more than two restrooms" and "hey, it doesn't smell weird"). We framed some marketing and campaign creative and put up some of those famous Hatch Show Prints, but when it came to painted stuff, we just didn't think a corporate art rental program was our style.
Instead, we invited the kids of Emma employees who attend Children's House Montessori School in Nashville to create the art for us, asking them to look at Emma's logo and create an entire picture of Emma around it. Another team helped to paint a cityscape. So now we have something of an art gallery to welcome folks who visit the shop, complete with gallery-like descriptions for each work of art. Here are a few for your artistic enrichment…
Emma with Tiny Chicken Arms, and Perfectly Okay About It
A classic study in human and fowl proportion, Tiny Chicken Arms is believed by some art critics to be the first attempt to combine a human body and chicken arms in a blouse that was clearly intended for much larger, non-chicken-like appendages.
At first glance, the work appears to feature legs of differing lengths, almost in an accidental way, but note how the subject's earrings follow the same long-short pattern.
Also, the subject has no nose.
Patrons interested in further researching the early career of O. Smith can see also:
Figure with Large, Bulbous Right Leg and Normal-Sized Left Leg, Four Fingers with Two More Sticking Out of the Wrist Area, and Boy With Unintentional Extra Neck.
Artist: Owen Smith (age 5), Children's House Montessori
Emma with Blue Hair and Dark Skirt/Innertube
Hooper is widely considered to be the philosophical leader of the Buoyant Attire movement, a group devoted to furthering the idea of clothes that can also be used as flotation devices.
In this particular work, it's as if the subject is saying, I can stand here possibly waving at you, or I can tube down Category Four rapids if the mood strikes me.
Many believe the artist's later effort, Look At Me, Now I'm Tubing Down Category Four Rapids, may be the logical companion piece to this canvas. Innertube is not without controversy, as some scholars question its inclusion in the Buoyant Attire movement.
They point to the artist's use of a dinner napkin already tucked in as a clear nod to the Post-Tubing Cheese Crackers movement, a splinter artist group fervently opposed to the idea of tubing without proper snacks.
They are based out of Nebraska.
Artist: Maggie Hooper (age 4), Children's House Montessori
Emma in Purply Gown and Red Gloves or Possibly Smeared Cupcake
Known for her work in carefully arranging wood blocks, artist Julia Spessard displays her versatility with Emma in Purply Gown.
This work is her first foray into painting — or, in her words, "making pretty pretty."
With its use of heavy brush strokes, serious tone and tiny nose, Gown is at once a commentary on the absurdity of society life and a challenge to the world of fashion designers.
This challenge is namely to make more things that are purple.
This is a theme that would resurface in J. Spessard's subsequent oil series, My Purple Daddy and His Giraffe, Which is Also Purple. Allusions to smeared cupcakes in her later works are more pronounced.
Artist: Julia Spessard (age 3), Children's House Montessori
Emma in Slightly Mannish Sweater Suit
Part of the watercolor series Sweaters: Not As Ladylike As You Might Think, Slightly Mannish is generally considered to be artist Woods Spessard's most important work.
This triumph follows on the heels of the somewhat less regarded efforts Half Flower, Inside My Nose and Orange-y Blob.
Note the use of the horizontal lines, earth tones, and large, gangly google-y eyes favored by artists of this period.
(This period refers to the time right after nap time and before plastic stove baking time).
Discerning viewers may also spot the subtle influences of Van Gogh and Cezanne.
Other views may note the subtle influences of the Dress Barn's winter line, circa 1997.
Artist: Woods Spessard (age 5), Children's House Montessori
Future, and Possibly Architecturally Unstable, City
One of three works in the series Whimsical Buildings You Might Not Want to Stand Underneath, Future City re-imagines the modern skyline in vivid blues, yellows, reds, and the ever-popular architectural color Bubblegum Pink.
The work blends whimsy and irreverence to create an abstract paradise for everyone but building inspectors, window makers, and the poor sap who rented the elevator-less rocket-launcher penthouse.
Artists: The boys and girls of Children's House Montessori (ages 3 through 6)
If you're new to Emma's blog, you might not know that we plant 5 trees for each new customer that chooses us as their email marketing service provider. You also might not know that we ask our fearless blog readers to help us choose where each month's batch of trees should go. Ohio was the winner of last month's poll, so we'll be working with Plant-It 2020 to plant half of May's 1,630 trees in the Buckeye State and the other half in the equatorial region of Plant-It 2020′s choice.
Of course, it's a new month, which means it's time for a new poll:
If you often peruse email marketing statistics (which is perfectly fine, by the way, but maybe the kind of personal information you'll want to gloss over at parties), you may have run across a fair amount of research on the length of subject lines. MailerMailer reported that shorter ones perform better than longer ones. Then MarketingSherpa's research just came right out and said that 35 characters was the magic number. But we experimented with subject lines here at the Emma shop and found just the opposite – our longer subject line boasted both higher open and clickthrough rates than its shorter counterpart.
So I was thrilled to see some new research on subject lines hit the wires this morning, from Mediapost's Email Insiders' Summit. One of the conference speakers, Dala Quist, presented his own research about subject line length. He reinforced the idea that shorter subjects – 50 characters or so – garner better open rates, but he didn't stop there. His research showed another spike in performance for subject lines around the 80-character mark. The slump in open rates happened in the middle range (60-70 characters).
From the article at MediaPost:
Research culled from 250 million messages sent over the past two years, with 660 different subject lines, has led him to believe that a 50-character subject line touting a "powerful" offer is appealing (30% off Spring Getaway flights to Florida on Delta).
And a longer 80-character-plus line describing a newsletter in enticing fashion works (Find out Secrets to Spice up your Barbecue this weekend and all Summer Long and enter to win a New Weber Grill.)
It's great news for a couple of reasons – one, it helps me feel better about our own longer subject lines, of course, but second, it recognizes that the ideal subject line's length depends on what you're trying to accomplish with your campaign. If it's an offer you're promoting or a particular call to action you want people to take, shorter's better. But if you're using your email newsletter with an eye toward retention, relationship-building and content, a longer subject line will give you more chances to tease the content that'll get your readers engaged with your email.
Not sure what'll work for you? Try splitting your audience in half and try two different subject lines for the same campaign, and let us know how it goes…
For all you designers out there, here's a friendly reminder that the folks at Create are accepting submissions for this year's Create Awards. If there's something stylish in your portfolio this year that you feel particularly proud of – whether it's advertising, photography, print, interactive, or something else – you can submit it to Create for, you know, prizes and stuff. The early-bird deadline is May 31, and the final cut-off for submissions is July 7. Good luck!