Hello from the HOW Design Conference!

We're having a great time in Austin at the HOW Design Conference. This week has so much to offer, so we're doing our best to take it all in – the food, the live music and of course the inspiring conference events. Yesterday I got a chance to do a breakout session about designing emails with clear goals in mind, so I thought I'd share a few links to statistics and stories I told during the presentation.

+ It depends on the industry, but about 50% of folks surveyed by Epsilon said they were more likely to buy in the future if you have an email strategy. Click here to read more.

+ MarketingSherpa and SmartBrief told the story of how adding social networking links to emails can give a big boost to your traffic from those sites. (subscription required) Click here to read more.

+ Hollis Brand Culture and The Sofia, my favorite hotel in San Diego, helped me tell the story of a boutique hotel trying to boost the bottom line by sharing discounts with guests. The team described email as their 12th man. (Thanks for all your help, Amy!)

The Brainiac Guide to Welcome Email Automation

It’s not too late to join Ellie’s Run for Africa.


Back in March, we told you about an awesome local event we are sponsoring called Ellie's Run for Africa. Well, consider this your reminder that the event is this Saturday. It's too late to register online, but if you want to lace up your running shoes for a good cause, stop by and sign up Saturday morning beginning at 6:30 a.m. at Percy Warner Park in Nashville.

Ellie's Run for Africa all began in 2004 with the dreams of Ellie Ambrose, then a 10-year-old girl from Nashville who had a vision to help families and children in Africa. Her goal was to raise awareness and funding for Africans who need health care, food, water, shelter, education and clothing. Five years into the program, Ellie's Run has raised over $155,000, helped put more than 420 kids in school, helped build classrooms in Kenya and more.

It is really amazing to me that Ellie's dedication to her dream has accomplished so much, especially at such a young age. To learn more about Ellie's Run for Africa and how to get involved with the race itself, visit www.elliesrun.org.

Here come trees for the Green Mountain state.

We're sending a batch of trees to Vermont.

Last year, Emma started planting 5 trees for each new customer who joins us for email marketing and communications. The states where we plant the trees come from a list provided by our tree-planting partner, Plant-It 2020. Vermont was the only state on the list not to receive trees from Emma, but we "fixed" that last month by making Vermont the only possible choice.

Now we've got a fresh batch of tree-lovin' places up for a vote. So where'll it be?


Tips From Photoshop World, Pt.2

Part two of our Tips From Photoshop World series. For part one, click here.

Today I'm going to talk a little bit about one of my favorite features in Photoshop, the adjustment layer. Many of the presenters at Photoshop World emphasized using this tool, so here are a few tips on putting it to stylish use.

Image Adustment Example
When it's time to make an adjustment to our Photoshop project, most of us choose some of the adjustment tools under the Images>Adjustments drop-down menu. After all, it's full of useful adjustments like Curves, Color Balance and Brightness/Contrast, among many others.

They're all helpful (and often necessary), but here's the problem with making adjustments this way: It applies the result to the whole image. Also, any tweaks you want to make to the resulting effect require you to undo the original and redo it until you are happy with the outcome.

How to apply an adjustment layer
So, here's a more efficient way. Try applying an adjustment with an adjustment layer. It's the small black and white circle button at the bottom of your layers palette.

This button will give you a pop-up menu that looks like what you're used to seeing under Image>Adjustments, but it's much more user-friendly. When your adjustment is selected and applied, it does not simply affect your whole image and leave it at that. It actually creates a layer in your layers palette that can be turned off and on and even adjusted further. Nifty!

Example of an applied Adjustment Layer
With an adjustment layer, only the layers below your adjustment layer will be affected by the adjustment. This is helpful when you're working on a Photoshop project that consists of multiple images that may not have been taken with the same camera or under the same conditions. For example, if one component of your project is noticeably lighter than the rest, simply apply a Curves Adjustment Layer directly above the lighter layer, adjust the curves just as you normally would, click OK, then right-click the adjustment layer and choose Create Clipping Mask. This will cause the adjustment layer to only affect the layer directly below it, leaving the rest of your document untouched. If you decide later that the adjustment needs to be tweaked, simply double-click the adjustment layer in your layers palette and make whatever changes you like.

If you have never worked with adjustment layers before, give 'em a try. Please feel free to let us know if you have any questions when trying this for the first time and enjoy this great new tool!

Rhode Island, your trees are coming.

Emma plants 5 trees for each new customer that joins the community for email marketing and communications, and each month we award trees to a state chosen by readers of this blog. The states where the trees go are from a list from our tree-planting partner, Plant-It 2020. Only Rhode Island and Vermont had never received trees since we started planting trees last year.

Until now.

For April, you chose Rhode Island in a narrow decision (54%) over Vermont. Thanks to 399 new customers in April, half of the 1,995 trees will go to Rhode Island. The other half will go to the equatorial region chosen by Plant-It 2020.

That leaves just Vermont. Help us reforest the Green Mountain state, won't you?


Tips From Photoshop World, Pt.1

A couple of us Emma designers recently trekked up to Boston for the Photoshop World Conference and boy, did we come back with some goodies. Yes, we received our fair share of totebags and light-up pens, however, the best souvenir of all was the wealth of everyday Photoshop knowledge we acquired. Considering our design team spends a large percentage of the day working in this program, we couldn't wait to get back to Nashville and try out some of these new methods with our email stationery design. We quickly realized that implementing our new found knowledge would make for a faster, easier workflow and email template designs that were down-right more stylish.

Sharing what we learned with the rest of our team was a given, but why stop there? Heck, let's go ahead and share with the entire design community. (My kindergarten teacher would be so proud.)

In an effort to keep this information digestible and shorter than the actual Photoshop World Guidebook itself, we've picked out 6 topics that we think you'll really like. And to start it off, this first one is short & sweet:

One: The very first session I attended at the conference really started the week off with a bang. It was called 'Painting with Photoshop' by Bert Monroy. Bert creates these amazing paintings in Photoshop that one would be tempted to call 'photo-realistic.' However, Bert's pieces are considerably more detailed than any photograph ever could be. That's because his paintings are created at an extremely high resolution and are actually made up of many different files. Use a zooming function on one of his paintings and you will only find more details; whereas in a photo you would quickly find pixels.

Since most of us aren't sitting in front of our computers creating a thousand layer, hyper-realistic photoshop painting, you might wonder 'what's the take away, here?' Well, the most inspiring thing about Bert's presentation was that he focused more on his philosophy and thought process rather than on steps to simply copy what he was doing. I really enjoyed the fact that he mostly wanted to share his mentality and then challenged the crowd to apply that to what it is they do.

The funny thing about Bert's mentality is that while he calls his work 'paintings,' he uses the 'paintbrush tool' a lot less often than you'd think. Perhaps the reason for this is because he is too busy using almost every other function available in Photoshop. Here are three simple, yet oh-so-useful tips that Bert had to share:

outer glow example
1 – Ignore the actual names of certain tools, effects & functions. They can be used for so much more than they like to claim. For example, the 'Outer Glow' layer style sounds pretty self-explanatory, but really, what's in a name? Who says you couldn't use this to apply a drop shadow that may or may not be better than the actual 'Drop Shadow' effect itself?

To do this:
- simply apply an 'Outer Glow'
- change the blend mode from 'screen' to 'multiply'
- change your color to a darker shade of your choice

It's also useful to adjust the size, spread, and opacity. The result is a nice even shadow, whereas the 'Drop Shadow' option is usually heavier on certain sides.

2 – Push all the buttons. There are certain features in Photoshop I assume are of no use to me and tend to avoid altogether. But as Bert knows, you can be pleasantly surprised by these neglected tools. So just go ahead and push it.

3 – Slide the scale from one extreme to another. If you are experimenting with a tool or adjustment, make sure to test the way it looks at every setting from -100 to +100. This can sometimes result in perfection.

These tips may be simple, but as Bert's work has so gracefully reminded us, the possibilities with Photoshop really are endless…if you let them be.

Stay tuned for 5 more installments of Photoshop World goodness in the coming weeks!

Where in the World is Emma this Quarter? Pt. 2

You may remember when I posted recently on where Emma will be in Q2 and thought to yourself "Gee, are there any other events coming up where I could meet the Emma crew?" or "I hope I didn't miss an opportunity to get an Emma bag tag." If you've asked yourself these questions and wondered how to grow your bag tag collection, here are a few other events coming up that you might be interested in:

Marketing Jam 09

Austin AMA Marketing Jam '09
May 12 :: Austin, TX

Join us at the Austin AMA Marketing Jam and hear our very own Jim Hitch & Annie Williams explain how email's role is changing with the emergence of social networks and what you can do to maximize all the tools in your marketing toolkit. If you are interested in learning more about the event or want to join the Austin AMA, click here.

May 13 :: Denver, CO

The Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association is having their annual Direct Marketing Day on May 13th. The event will be filled with workshops & seminars focused on providing insight to new marketing strategies. As an exhibitor, we can invite guests to attend the keynote address featuring Patrick Snow
and the networking event for half price, just $25. If you are interested in registering for this offer, click here and choose "Exhibitor Special." Be sure to use access code: dmd09exh025 and you will be all set.

Colorado Business Marketplace
May 21 :: Denver, CO

Colorado Business MarketPlace is a mini tradeshow and networking event put on by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. The event is free to all Chamber members so if you would like to learn more about attending, or if you are interested in joining the Chamber, please click here.

Bike for Branches

May 30 :: Nashville, TN

Pro-Earth charity, Soundforest has put together really great bike-riding event that will start from Sevier Park and finish up at the 12 South Taproom with an Outdoor Music Festival in which Emma is the stage sponsor. As a sponsor for this event, we are offering 5 coupons each worth 20% off registration. To take advantage of this special offer, click here and use the special code"emmatrees" at checkout.

Healthcamp Nash
May 30 :: Nashville, TN

HealthCamp Nash is a free one-day event happening at Lipscomb University's College of Pharmacy. If you are interested at all in the healthcare industry, this event is definitely for you. Learn more at http://www.healthcampnash.com/.


Making Media Connections

Making Media Connections '09
June 10-11 :: Chicago, IL

Emma will be back in Chicago as a sponsor for the Making Media Connections '09 non-profit event. Not only will Emma be an exhibitor at this event, but our very own Annie Williams will also be speaking on a panel entitled Words on Web: Learn from experts and your peers how they are using texting, e-newsletters, blogging and more to spread the word on the Web about their work. If you are interested in attending this event, you can register here.

Now students in Wisconsin can sharpen their pencils - and their minds

During this year's SXSWi, Emma asked participants to help decide which 40 classrooms to help through DonorsChoose.org, an organization that helps fund classroom projects that fall outside public school budgets.

One such request came from Ms. F., who teaches math, science and reading to 44 sixth-graders in Wisconsin. In her classroom, there are two pencil sharpeners, one of which doesn't work well, the other of which just doesn't work. It takes two students to sharpen a pencil here, as one holds the broken sharpener steady while the other turns the crank.

Ms. F. appealed to DonorsChoose.org, asking for a pencil sharpener. Her students, she wrote, have great potential despite many obstacles: they've run out of glue for science fair boards, they don't have enough graph paper to practice graphs in math and have no poster paper for group presentations. Plus, they share a limited number of pencils.

"The truth is, I teach in a rough neighborhood," wrote Ms. F. "My students put up with more disappointment than they should have to and I would love to provide everything for them but, unfortunately, that is not possible. What we're asking for is a working pencil sharpener and a few other basic supplies that will make our day run just a little bit more smoothly."

Emma and others helped fulfilled her $276 request. Here's what she wrote in response:

"Thank you SO much for funding my project! These resources are going to greatly enhance the learning in my classroom. Not having to send students to other rooms to sharpen their pencils or try, desperately, to manipulate our broken pencil sharpener is going to be wonderful. You don't realize how amazing a working pencil sharpener is until you don't have one. smile

"People like you who are so willing to help out students in need truly amaze me. There are so many people in these students' communities and lives who are not even willing to support them and here you are, strangers to them, and more than willing to put their needs in front of your own. I hope you know how much your generosity is appreciated."

Working with DonorsChoose.org is just one of the ways Emma gives back. Click here to learn more. See the full list of classrooms we helped fund here. And learn how you can sponsor your *own* classroom project here.

Two fabulous notes from the Emma community, post Arbor Day

Last week, we had a little fun on Arbor Day, crafting, um, totally fake notes from a few of the 28,000 trees the Emma community has helped plant this year. In reply, a few of our (always stylish) customers let us know of a few great tree-related programs in their *own* worlds, and we thought we'd share a couple of them with you now:

From Meryl Dorey at Fountain of Beauty Cosmetics in Bangalow, Australia:

Dear Emma folk,

This is not a support request – just a thank you! When I signed up for Emma (only a few days ago), I had no idea of your involvement with planting trees – but what a lucky coincidence. My husband is editor of the Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare newsletter and has spent the last 20 years planting about 15,000 rainforest trees native to the far North Coast of NSW where we are (the Big Scrub). I thank you for what you do to help the environment of North America – my home for the first 30 years of my life – and am very glad to have joined an organisation that cares for nature as well as providing such good service.

And from John Spady at Countrywide Community Forums in Seattle, WA:

I wanted to draw attention to a project that my 86-year-old father has been managing for over 10 years! The "Plant a Tree for Citizenship" project is sponsored by the Bellevue Overlake Rotary Club in District 5030. Here is a short blurb about it from their club site:

One of the most memorable and impacting hands-on project that is ongoing is our Plant a Tree For Citizenship program led by Dick Spady. Plant a tree involves elementary students growing evergreen trees from seeds and conducting a tree planting ceremony a year later.

Just another good story from an Arbor Day / Earth Day perspective!

Fun editorial note: Dick Spady, the man who started the program (also, John's dad), is the same Dick Spady who started Dick's Drive-In, the famous restaurant chain in the Seattle area. Burgers *and* trees. Clearly our kind of guy.

Thanks to Meryl & John for sharing their stories (and lives) with us, and here's to all the great work being done around the world on behalf of our tall, leafy friends. Cheers!

Where in the World is Emma this Quarter? Pt. 1

You may ask yourself on occasion, I wonder what the folks at Emma are up to this month? or I wonder if any of them will be in my town soon? or perhaps, I wonder what they're having for lunch today? Well, if you are one of those people who ask these questions, or one that talks to themselves, this is for you, question-asking-friend.

If we are coming to your town or you are traveling to one of the events we are sponsoring, please come by and say hello. You may even walk away with some sweet Emma flair (or chotchkies). Below is a list of events that Emma will be sponsoring in May and June with special offers that might help your decision on whether to attend. We will be posting another blog the first week of May for the events that are less time sensitive for registration.

BarCamp Portland
May 1 :: Portland, OR

Barcamp Portland is an unconference put together by folks in the Portland technology community that offers demos, group discussions & networking opportunities with peers. To learn more about how you can get involved with BarCamp Portland, you can click here for more information.

NAMA's AIM Awards
May 6 :: Nashville, TN

The Nashville American Marketing Association is holding their Stand By Your Brand Awards event at the Wildhorse Saloon in Downtown Nashville. If you are interested in learning more about some of Nashville's most successful marketing campaigns, click here.

National Restaurant Association Show

May 16-19 :: Chicago, IL

We will be located at booth #5961 on Level 3 of McCormick Place North Hall, so please swing by and say hello.

We also have the opportunity to give away two event registrations that will give attendees access to the exhibit hall and educational sessions. Please contact us to inquire about the special offer.

MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum
June 8-9 :: Boston, MA

The theme of June's event is to re:charge, re:invent, re:engage and that is exactly what we hope everyone in attendance will do. As a sponsor of the B2B forum, we are able to pass along a $200 discount to anyone interested in attending.

If you are going to be in Boston and want to take advantage of this discount, click here and make sure to remember to use the discount code is ESPN7.

Open Source Bridge
June 17-19 :: Portland, OR

If you are a developer interested in open source technologies and plan on being in Portland June 17-19, this event may be right up your alley (literally).

As a sponsor, we can offer a special discount of $100 off of the $250 conference price. Register here and use the code osbemma.

HOW Design Conference¨
June 24-27 :: Austin, TX

We are heading over to Austin at the end of June for the HOW Design Conference. Be sure to join Jim Hitch, Emma's Agency Relations Manager on Thursday the 25th at 3:45 to learn how email design and strategy can have a significant impact on boosting your company's and/or client's success.

If you are interested in attending the HOW Conference, please remember that you can save $100 by registering here before May 1st.