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5 questions with Suzanne Ryan

Suzanne takes off her many AimCoR group "hats" to try out new styles with her daughter, Heather, at Disney World.

Suzanne is the Marketing Director at AimcoR Group, a national marketing organization for insurance and financial brokerage agencies. They help brokerage general agencies (BGAs) and their agents find the best solutions (like long-term care, life or disability insurance, and annuities) for their customers, and teach them how to market those solutions. She was kind enough to let me steal some time from her so that I could learn a little bit more about how her organization works and how Emma plays a part in it all.

Can you start off by telling me about your role at AimCoR group? From my experience working with you, it seems like you wear several hats there.
I'm kind of like the "girl Friday" from one of my favorite movies with Rosalind Russell and Carey Grant, His Girl Friday. My primary focus is marketing. We're a very small company, with 40 BGAs around the country, but there are only four of us in our corporate office — we all do a lot of different things. My title is Marketing Director, but then I also do a lot with member services, getting them up and running. I help plan a lot of the events, too. We have three events throughout the country each year.

What is one of the most interesting things you see evolving in the insurance and financial industry? Are there any trends you're seeing this year?
I think the number one thing we're seeing has to do with recent legislation passed in December, which began on January 1, 2011 and ends on December 31, 2012, and deals with changes in estate taxes. There's a lot of changes in opportunities within that two-year window for estate planning. We are helping to provide advanced marketing solutions to the agents and the financial planners for when they go out to their customers and try to get them to take advantage of this short window of time.

The second biggest thing we're seeing is the tremendous amount of change within the life insurance industry. There has been so much competition among providers with what they offer due to the medical and technical advances. People are living longer. The recent census shows that women are living into their mid-eighties and men into their lower-eighties, so that really affects the type of risk class a person can fall into. And with all of the advances in health care, it's making it easier for people to qualify for a better risk class. You can't just buy a life insurance policy from twenty years ago and be set. People should be constantly evaluating either on a yearly or bi-yearly basis their financial needs, especially their insurance needs. I think that's the key point in what I'm trying to say: Life evolves, and insurance has to keep up.

How do you use Emma to communicate those needs and trends in the industry?
We've got close to 40 or 50 members with accounts set up in Emma. What we do on a monthly basis for each member is set up a four-part communication series (with one campaign each week).

We've got two Carrier Connections each month, where we highlight what's going on with our core carriers. The first Carrier Connection goes out the first week of every month, and we highlight six of our core carriers there along with a feature on our monthly agent webinar. The second week we send out the Underwriting Connection, where we highlight underwriting trends. On the third week, we're back to Carrier Connections, and we use this campaign to highlight the other half of our core carriers. And then the last week is the Sales Connection. That's where we feature new sales and marketing techniques and the new ideas we have.

These mailings that we set up for members are just a starting point for them. They go in to edit and customize the campaign, then send them out to their agents. Ideally, we should be reaching close to 50,000 people a week through this monthly series.

Obviously, you spend a lot of time in Emma. What is the one Emma feature you or your clients couldn't live without?
The very best part of Emma is the audience component and the audience maintenance. I think it's one of the best in the industry. We really take advantage of the ability to easily group our members, and we've started experimenting with audience searches. The signup forms are also very powerful so that you can have links on your website for new additions.

I noticed that you all are located in Maple Grove, Minnesota, which by name is very similar to Walnut Grove (also in Minnesota), the former stomping grounds of Laura Ingalls-Wilder. Do folks ever show up there looking to re-live the prairie days?
That's actually south of where we are, so we've yet to see anybody get lost and end up here. Maple Grove is a nice, family-oriented suburb of Minneapolis. We are big fans of Laura and Little House of Prairie, though.

The Brainiac Guide to Welcome Email Automation

Design showcase: Social justice and community progress

A quick look at some of our efforts towards diversity, equality and forward-thinking design
The Emma staff on Stand Against Racism day, wearing orange to show support for the YWCA and promote awareness of the event.

Earlier this spring, Emma hosted its first "booth" for Stand Against Racism, an annual event created by the YWCA to promote awareness of racism's lingering effects in America. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country took the SAR pledge and participated in office-sponsored activities, and for us, it served as a fantastic kick-off to an ongoing initiative to increase our office diversity.

Another special event for us at Emma happened today: our second annual potluck for Juneteenth, one of my personal favorite holidays. Its inspiring story commemorates the end of slavery, honors African American history and achievement and celebrates freedom, community and diversity.

It was in that spirit, then, that staffers contributed dishes from their own personal backgrounds and cultures for today's potluck. It was an incredible spread, and I was reminded of how lucky I am to be surrounded by such hard-working, forward-thinking people.

Emma's kitchen table today, for our second annual Juneteenth potluck.

Of course, one of the ways that we on the design team help promote community progress is through custom designs for our nonprofit customers who are out there doing good in the world.

By doing our part to visually tell these clients' brand stories, we hope to help them advertise their events, raise more funds and drive their volunteer efforts. It's wonderfully rewarding to work with these customers, hear their success stories and watch their readership grow, and we're proud to have a small part in those stories by crafting their custom designs.

And with that, let's take a look at some designs for three hardworking nonprofits that are making strides towards social justice and progress.

Customer: Students of the World
Designer: Jessica Peoples
Design Level: Concierge Design

Since it was founded at Duke University in 1999, Students of the World has collaborated with college students to create documentary media, and then use those materials to gain support for nonprofits all over the world. When Katie Sobering requested stationery for SOW, the organization was already in the process of re-branding and re-working its web presence to expand its global reach.

Katie noted that it was very important to keep the stationery simple and professional, but somehow visually communicate the essence of the brand without any "fancy frills or clutter." The color scheme was set to charcoal, turquoise, beige and white, so Jessica stuck to those exclusively and used just a bit of antiqued texturing to add some visual interest to an otherwise very simple, clean design. She also created a custom graphic for the "send this email to a friend" link, which echoes the logo design and replaces the default version of the link included in Emma emails.

Customer: The Contributor
Designer: Elizabeth Williams
Design Level: Concierge Design

Last year, the Emma design team came out of thinkTank, a local design conference, inspired and touched by story of speaker Tasha French. Since founding The Contributor in 2007, Tasha and her team have turned their nonprofit passion project into the biggest street newspaper in North America.

The organization's website incorporates some beautiful and powerful photographic images, many of them taken by Tasha herself, and she definitely wanted to include an image of Contributor vendors in the stationery. Elizabeth made sure to highlight the photograph by surrounding it with a distressed circular border in the same color as the tagline's focal words. That border is also part of a larger plan to juxtapose the old and the new: on one hand, she gave prominence to the classic Contributor logo, of course, and added a faded graphic of an antique typewriter to the footer; on the other, the tagline and footer text are both in a clean, modern, sans serif font and the vendor photograph is in crisp, full color.

And, of course, tying it all back to the actual Contributor product, Elizabeth used paper textures and subtle shadowing to lend an aesthetic of real newsprint to the design. Tasha was thrilled with the outcome and has since been using the stationery for reader surveys, important news, and a fundraising push for spring/summer 2011.

Customer: Oregon Commission for Women
Designer: Jessica Peoples
Design Level: Concierge Design

The Oregon Commission for Women began less formally and under a different name in the 1960s, but in 1983, it became official on a legislative scale as an agency to promote women's equality, education and empowerment. Jenny Greenleaf requested the custom stationery for the OCW with an open mind about much of the design direction, but she did note a preference of plumb, sage and khaki for the color scheme.

For this design, Jessica and Jenny discussed the organization's mission, branding and various stationery ideas. From there, Jessica used the title ("She Flies with Her Own Wings") as inspiration for the flowing nature of this design. Jenny loved the final look and has been brainstorming all kinds of uses for her new stationery. We're so proud of her efforts to dive right in, and can't wait to see how her email campaigns enhance the organization's overall marketing strategy.

How does your office promote community and social justice? Let us know about your company's initiatives – big or small – to celebrate diversity, commemorate history and push for social progress. If you're interested in starting your own event for Stand Against Racism, you can find out more online or at your local YWCA.

Until next time … love, hugs and working together,
The Emma Design Team

Adventures in email marketing

Four ideas for expanding your email horizons this summer

If the arrival of summer has you hankering to explore and be daring, why not start with your own email marketing efforts? We've pulled together a few of our favorite ideas into something of a field guide to email adventure. Some are side routes to explore, others are full-on, pack-a-lot-of-granola expeditions. Either way, you'll find all kinds of ways to expand your email horizons.

Oh, and for the record: This article is best enjoyed staring off purposefully into the distance as gentle mountain breezes rustle your hair. If gentle mountain breezes are unavailable, have Bruce over in accounts payable wave a stack of invoices in your face.

Image of spaceship
Launch a welcome note.

Someone says hi to you. How lovely. Now wait three weeks and say hi back.

Wait, that's no good.

But you're committing the email equivalent of that faux pas if you're not greeting new subscribers with a welcome message. It's a great way to build on someone's initial interest, right when they're interested. An Experian study shows welcome autoresponders boast a 14% click-through rate compared to the 4% industry average. Best of all, it happens automatically with Emma's trigger email feature.

If you've never set up a triggered welcome email, why not make it your summer goal to launch one? Craft new content with new subscribers in mind, or just add a special greeting to the top of your latest newsletter.

+ Get inspired with profiles of three customers' successful welcome emails.
+ Setting up welcome triggers is as easy as sending a campaign. Watch how.

Image of map
Explore surveys.

There's a wide world of customer insight out there, and you've got an easy way to uncover it with Emma's survey feature. Surveys are free in your Emma account, which is nice, and their results show you priceless feedback to improve pretty much anything, including events, products, customer satisfaction and your latest email newsletter.

Of course, the real adventure begins when you learn what your customers think. Or when you decide to steal the Declaration of Independence. (Use of Nicolas Cage voice is optional there.)

+ Need more convincing? Here are more ways surveys will change your business.
+ For inspiration, see twelve ideas for surveys you can send this week.
+ Not sure how to create a survey? Consider this PDF your downloadable sherpa.

Image of magnifying glass
Discover your inactive members.

Legendary outdoorsman Teddy Roosevelt spoke of three uncharted frontiers: our galaxy, the ocean depths and your email database.

Which is our historically dubious way of suggesting it's time to discover who's not looking at your emails. Inactive subscribers are an important segment with all kinds of opportunity. Craft a special offer for them, and they'll remember why they first signed up for your list. Send your next campaign with a daring subject line, and get their attention again. Or dare to remove them altogether, and you may save money.

+ Get more ideas for delving into the details of audience management.
+ Find your inactive members with a quick search — watch our how-to video.

Image of binoculars
Dare to redesign your newsletter.

Your industry, your goals and your customers' needs have evolved over the last few years. Has your email newsletter kept up? If not, it may be time to embark on a redesign.

A redesigned newsletter engages readers who may have become accustomed to the same look week after week. But more importantly, the process of thinking through your new design helps you consider what your readers want and improves the overall strategy of your content. In other words, your email won't just look better; it'll also be better.

Keep it simple by changing your font selections or image styles. Choose a new layout or work with one of our designers for a fresh template. Or reinvent it from the ground up. Just don't go all Gaga on us and insist your email be paraded around in a egg pod. It's an open rate, people, not a hatch rate.

+ Check out the before-and-after from one customer's stellar redesign.
+ See how these customers turned Emma layouts into stylish campaigns.
+ Request custom email design from our fantastic team of graphic designers.


Are you plotting any email adventures of your own this summer? What's the boldest thing you've done in an email campaign?

Emma City Guide: Austin, TX

Tour Austin with Emma and meet a few customer favorites

If the warm weather is beckoning you to take to the open road, consider visiting Austin, Texas, home to one of Emma's satellite offices. We're proud to power emails for so many local Austin businesses and organizations, helping them stay in touch with locals and visitors alike.

I've visited Austin a handful of times to see family, and with each trip I've focused almost solely on stuffing myself to the gills with breakfast tacos and barbecue. Today, I'm taking a virtual vacation to Austin, and I'm stepping outside my comfort (food) zone to visit some fun Emma customers.

Rowing Dock
Rowing Dock uses Emma to announce classes, camps and special events.

Rowing Dock

2418 Stratford Dr

After a cup of coffee and okay, probably a breakfast taco or two, I'd head down to Lady Bird Lake (formerly known as Town Lake) and take advantage of Rowing Dock's kayak, paddle boat and stand-up paddle board rentals. Rowing Dock offers summer camps for kids and rowing classes for adults, but I'd probably opt to rent a kayak and wind my way around the lake, taking in the sites before the summer heat really sets in.

+ See a recent email campaign
+ Visit their website

Dress Shop
Join the Dress Shop's mailing list and you'll receive a special offer on your birthday. Party dress, anyone?

Dress Shop

315 Congress Ave

Leslie Gandy opened this boutique in 2009 and stocks colorful frocks for any occasion. Leslie does a great job of keeping in touch with customers and fans through email and Facebook, so even if you can't visit the storefront it's easy to have a virtual Dress Shop experience: just pick out a dress online and Leslie will ship it to you.

+ See Dress Shop's birthday email
+ Visit their website

2nd Street District
A stylish signup form for 2nd Street District, "where Texas warmth meets Austin cool."

2nd Street District

Austin's 2nd Street District is populated by more than 50 shops and restaurants, just a block off Cesar Chavez. Their website touts special deals and events, giving visitors an overview of all the sweet deals and delicious dishes (and cocktails!) 2nd Street District has to offer. The site also provides ways to stay in touch over Facebook, Twitter, and of course, email, thanks to a smartly placed signup form for visitors to subscribe to email newsletters.

+ See a recent email campaign
+ Visit their website

Plain Ivey Jane
Plain Ivey Jane's custom email stationery reflects the retro feel of their website.

Plain Ivey Jane

408 W. 2nd St

Clearly I'm in the market for some new summer dresses, and I'm smitten with Plain Ivey Jane. This dress shop in the 2nd Street District offers new designer dresses at a discount. At any given time, you'll find deals on Nicole Miller, Betsey Johnson and Marc by Marc Jacobs, and as owner Sarah Reeves puts it, "It's not the type of store that you fall in love with a dress, then have to save up for it. Instead, you can buy that dress and two others."

+ See a recent email campaign
+ Visit their website

Eddie V's Edgewater Grill
A refreshing Blue Bonnet Tea awaits you at Eddie V's.

Eddie V's

301 E. 5th St

After a full day of outdoor fun and shopping, I can't imagine anything more satisfying than a meal at Eddie V's Edgewater Grill. This upscale seafood restaurant is part of the Eddie V's family of restaurants in Texas, Arizona and California, and it's the perfect place to wear a newly acquired dress and enjoy a signature cocktail — like the Blue Bonnet Tea — with my tuna steak dinner. Eddie V's uses Emma to promote special menu offerings and send personalized greetings to customers on special occasions, like wedding anniversaries.

+ See a recent email campaign
+ Visit their website

Alamo Drafthouse
Alamo uses Emma to share their show schedule and link back to features on their website.

Alamo Drafthouse

320 E. 6th St

After classing it up at Eddie V's, I'd probably feel inclined to close out my evening at the Alamo Drafthouse, the best place to see a movie and drink a beer at the same time. I'd likely buy a ticket for their Dumb & Dumber Quote-Along and settle in with a Lone Star and a bucket of popcorn. I'd revel in the fact that I'm actually expected to shout out, "Samsonite! I was way off! I knew it started with an S, though."

+ See a recent email campaign
+ Find additional Austin locations on their website

Well, there you have it: my perfect summer day in Austin. Stay tuned for more city guides from the places Emma calls home. Happy travels!


If you like this post, check out more customer stories on our website.

Emma {hearts} deserving students and inspiring teachers

Our involvement with Donors Choose this spring

As you may know if you've kept up with our tree planting efforts or Emma 25 program , we like to be involved in our communities and give back where we can. Each month, we also donate to deserving students and classrooms on .

This spring, I coordinated with 10 Emma staffers to fulfill the classroom requests of 27 teachers, reaching 1,705 students in 12 states. I'd love to share them all, but let's take quick look at a few of my favorite projects:

In It's A Sign Of The Times , Mrs. H's classroom in Massachusetts needed sign language materials for her eager learners with autism. Finding that her students were quickly learning to communicate with the few sign language videos she already had, she requested additional videos, alphabet cards, books and peg-it boards to help increase their vocabulary. She expects and hopes that by giving them the tools to communicate non-verbally, they'll also enhance their verbal skills.

Check out other projects in Massachusetts.

In Practice Makes Perfect: Help Kindergarteners Learn to Read , Ms. G's young New York City scholars are eager to practice their reading. Short on time to individually assist each student, Ms. G requested reading centers with various games and lessons for the kindergarteners to tackle individually and with each other. Already, the centers have made a huge difference, and her kindergartners are well on their way to achieving their goal of reading like 1st graders by the end of this year.

Check out other kindergarten classes in need of support.

In Volleyball Improves Girls Fitness & Self Esteem , overcrowding has caused Mr. S to teach two physical education classes simultaneously, drastically decreasing activity time for all his middle school girls. Seeing how much these young ladies benefit from participating in team sports and how passionately they enjoy volleyball, Mr. S knew that additional equipment was long overdue and requested an additional volleyball net, knee-pads and balls. The project was fully funded on February 15th, and his girls have been serving up aces since.

Check out other health- and sports-related projects.

I really enjoy coordinating our donations to Donor's Choose because I get to collaborate with my colleagues in a new way, and we get to see the effects of our donations. (Most of the classrooms follow up with a thank-you note or progress report.) Consider joining Emma in donating to Donor's Choose, and let us know what causes are near to your heart.


Not yet an Emma customer? See how we give back , and let us know if you'd like to get started with an account. 

Stylishly formatted email campaigns

How customers are making the most of Emma's layouts

We're big fans of design, and it's one of the reasons why our design team handcrafts email stationery for our customers. A stylishly branded stationery — one that fits your aesthetic and is unlike any other email stationery out there — is quite a start, but you've still got to fill your email with content. Staring at a blank campaign can be downright daunting, and we hope that our Oh-Blather-I'm-Stuck List of 12 quick content ideas is helpful.

But what if you've got a different challenge? Maybe you've got plenty of content but not enough inspiration about how to lay it out in an email. This kind of problem can be just as daunting, and we're always on the lookout for customers who are finding creative ways to display their content.

Let's take a look at five customers who are using Emma's simple, newsletter and advanced layouts in lovely ways — and what you can learn from them.

Mocha Club | Layout: Newsletter 12

Mocha Club email campaign | Emma Email Marketing
Click the campaign example to see the full version.

The Newsletter 12 layout combines alternating text and image boxes and works best if you've got several separate updates or stories. And don't forget to make use of the image caption placeholders.

Why it works:

  • Mocha Club keeps each story section short 'n' sweet, linking to story continuations on their website and blog.
  • Alternating images are the same size across the campaign, and there's a nice balance of graphics and text.

The Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA) | Layout: Advanced 14

SoDA email campaign | Emma Email Marketing
Click the campaign example to see the full version.

The Advanced 14 layout is similar to a few of the newsletter layouts and includes a sidebar along the right side that you can use for recurring stories, ads or special promotions.

Why it works:

  • Like Mocha Club, SoDA uses small — and equally sized — images, appropriate for an email environment. No over-powering, slow-to-load images here.
  • The sidebar is well-utilized, with a stand-alone blurb about sponsorship.

Denver Museum of Nature & Science | Layout: Simple 5

Denver Museum email campaign | Emma Email Marketing
Click the campaign example to see the full version.

The Simple 5 layout — with an image slot on the right and wrapping text box on the left — is perfect for shorter emails and announcements.

Why it works:

  • The height of the image matches the length of the text, creating visual balance.
  • If the campaign winds up in an inbox that doesn't display images by default, its message won't be lost.

Gray Photography | Layout: Simple 8

Gray Photography email campaign | Emma Email Marketing
Click the campaign example to see the full version.

The Simple 8 layout includes a series of centered image slots separated by text boxes. It's ideal for sharing larger images with your audience. (We recommend images of 480 x 480 pixels or smaller.)

Why it works:

  • The prominent wedding picture immediately gives context — this email is all about wedding photography workshops.
  • No need to over-stuff your email. Here, Gray Photography makes their point using two image slots and two text boxes. They've left the other placeholders blank, and those unused image and text boxes simply auto-hide.

Pigeon Toe Ceramics | Layout: Advanced 4

Pigeon Toe email campaign | Emma Email Marketing
Click the campaign example to see the full version.

The Advanced 4 layout is a good choice if you have a set of products to display (just keep images to around 120 x 120 pixels).

Why it works:

  • Pigeon Toe uploads small, equally sized images so that alignment is consistent across the campaign.
  • The images are more or less in the same color family so they work together, rather than creating visual clutter.

I hope these stylish campaigns give you some ideas for your own. And the next time you create a beauty of a campaign, we'd love to see it. Share its online URL in the comments below, and you may find yourself featured in a future blog post. Happy formatting!

5 questions for Network For Good

Rebecca Higman - NFG
Rebecca with the cherry blossoms in D.C.

Here at Emma, we love our nonprofit clients. I recently caught up with Rebecca Higman from Network For Good, one of our largest agency partners, to learn a bit about how this network of nonprofits uses Emma.

Describe Network For Good. What do you do, and what sets you apart?
Network for Good is a nonprofit organization that enables charitable acts anytime, anywhere through technology. In order to do that, we offer services to nonprofits, companies, and directly to donors/supporters. For the nonprofit audience (the one with which I get to spend the most time), we offer online donation processing (DonateNow), email marketing (EmailNow…powered by Emma!) and event management services, as well as many great social networking resources including Causes on Facebook and Crowdrise.

What sets us apart can be summed up in our classic "broken button story." Our COO, Katya Andresen, was giving a presentation to about 100 nonprofit professionals when a gentleman raised his hand and said, "Yeah, I use Network for Good for my organization's online fundraising." Katya's delight quickly turned to dismay when he continued, "But your button doesn't work." Thinking quickly on her feet and being attentive to his situation, she apologized and said it was odd that clicking on a donate button wouldn't allow a supporter to go through to complete a donation. She was more than happy to put him in touch with our support team.

"No, no – you can make a donation," he explained. "It's just that no one's clicking on the button."

With that "broken button" in mind, Network for Good developed its array of free fundraising, marketing and supporter engagement resources to share with its fellow nonprofits: enewsletters, eBooks, an online library and community, and our training webinars. Because, really, what good is a tool unless you have the know-how to make it effective?

What Emma feature could you and your clients not live without?
I don't know if I can speak for all of our clients here, but I can definitely share which feature I think is the snazziest: Search & Segment. I cannot begin to describe what a time-saver (and awesome-ness creator –- yes, it's a term) it is for sending really targeted messages. Often, we need to send out multiple communications to folks in a short time period. Rather than bombard all in one day, we can easily suppress certain groups and stagger our campaigns.

Tell us about one of your nonprofit clients, and how they inspire you.
One organization that comes to mind is AIM (All India Movement) for Seva. They're doing some incredible work in India to make education accessible to underprivileged children. They caught my eye when they were one of the winners of our Year-end Fundraising Challenge. They raised thousands and thousands of dollars in November and December alone by taking advantage of EmailNow and DonateNow, and I was truly inspired to learn more about their great work and see how their reach has expanded globally.

Network For Good has employees all over the country. Where do you live, and what is your favorite restaurant in the city?
I live in St. Petersburg, Florida (also known as the Sunshine City, according to Wikipedia). I'm going to cheat on this question and give you a few different answers. For lunch, you can't beat Evos –- it's fast food with less guilt (think baked, not fried); for dinner, I'm all about Sushi Rock Grill (I could eat sushi every day … I don't, but I wouldn't complain if I did); and, for a snack, Yogurtology (12 flavors of soft-serve frozen yogurt + 60 toppings choices … just think of the fruit and candy bar decisions!).

Summer is upon us. Any big plans?
Nothing too wild and crazy planned. My husband are I are heading up to Minnesota to visit some of his family and take advantage of a couple of those 10,000 lakes they boast of. Meanwhile, I'm counting down the days to our fall trip –- Paris and Munich! Oktoberfest, here we come.

Design showcase: Emma 25

Four of our most recent winners use their stationery for good

Every year, we award free Emma accounts to deserving nonprofits through our Emma 25 program. We love to watch these wonderful organizations turbo-charge their marketing, expand their reach and do more good in the world using email to spread the word.

Since custom design is included for all honorees, this program is a particular pleasure for the design team because we get to interact one-on-one with many of these awe-inspiring Emma 25ers. In this month's design showcase, we're taking a look at the custom stationery for four of our most recent honorees.

Rape Crisis Center | Emma Design Showcase
Client: Rape Crisis Center
Designer: Leigh Bernstein
Design Level: Concierge Design

The Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties is a facility dedicated to helping victims of sexual assault and to working towards the ultimate prevention of the crime through education and awareness. Leanne Graham, the Center's Director of Grants Management, wanted the stationery to be consistent with the website's sense of warmth and comfort.

Leigh was instantly a fan of the Center's soft colors and textures, but she knew that some features were geared more towards the web — and would need an email-friendlier alternative for the stationery design. She rebuilt the website header to feature the organizations's slogan, "healing. hope. empowerment," in lieu of the website's navigation bar; this way, the header design is streamlined and the logo is the clear focal point.

The website header features a bit of animation that works really well in a browser, but email clients' super-sensitive spam filters can be finicky about animation. Still, Leigh wanted to convey a sense of movement in the email header, so she added some floating dandelion seeds across the design to create a gentle, dynamic swirl. She also liked the ripped paper border that surrounds the website's featured image, so she re-purposed that texture to frame the mailing content area. The result is a beautiful, brand-consistent stationery that takes into account all aspects of the website design without losing sight of the unique needs of the email environment.

To learn more about the Rape Crisis Center or to donate to their cause, please visit them online.

Help-Portrait | Emma Design Showcase
Client: Help-Portrait
Designer: Taylor Schena
Design Level: Concierge Design

Earlier this spring, several Emma staffers were lucky enough to see a TEDx Nashville talk by Jeremy Cowart, a celebrity photographer and the founder of Help-Portrait. The idea behind this organization is simple but powerful: those in need often feel ignored and unimportant, but a day of pampering followed by a photo shoot under the spotlight can help them see, appreciate and document their own beauty and dignity — often for the first time in their lives.

Taylor was thrilled to create the stationery for Help-Portrait, but there were immediate questions as to how certain aspects of the website branding could translate to a fabulous email design. On the web, the little square images in the background are tiled from one edge of the window to another, which requires a particular kind of code that makes the images automatically repeat to fill the screen. However, that kind of code is not accepted by all email clients, so Taylor used the square images as a background texture behind the header, and then used an email-friendly solid gray beyond the header area.

For an extra kick of consistency (and to help drive traffic, of course), Taylor used the same navigation bar in the stationery as what appears on the website. However, she scaled down the size of the links and scaled up the logo — so the emphasis is still clearly on the identity of the brand.

Want to find out more about Help-Portrait? Click here.

Teton Valley Education Foundation | Emma Design Showcase
Client: Teton Valley Education Foundation
Designer: Leigh Bernstein
Design Level: Concierge Design

The Teton Valley Education Foundation is an organization working to improve public education in Teton Valley, Idaho through advocacy, grants, volunteer coordination and educational programming. So far, they have been using their email stationery to advertise their community meetings, Volunteer Recognition Luncheons and Teacher Appreciation Week — event-based marketing that fosters the reputation of the Foundation as an industrious, engaged organization.

Deneen Bowen, the Foundation's Executive Director, requested the stationery right at the time they were about to re-brand their website. Fortunately, they already had a good idea of how the new identity would look. Deneen sent over a brochure that included all the new colors as well as her favorite element, the green swoosh, so that Leigh would have a solid idea of the new aesthetic they were going for. Deneen stressed that she wanted a clean design with happy, bright colors, and Leigh was glad to oblige. Now, the Foundation has a new website and new stationery that consistently and cheerfully reflect its brand story.

Get involved or donate to the foundation on their website here.

Elders Share the Arts | Emma Design Showcase
Client: Elders Share the Arts
Designer: Kelly McClain
Design Level: Concierge Design

For over 30 years now, Elders Share the Arts has been working with seniors in the New York City metropolitan area to encourage their creative potential and affirm their place in the community as storytellers and bearers of history and culture. ESTA organizes a number of community and larger-scale events, and their email stationery has already helped with the promotion of everything from their small-group Story Circles to the Annual Flamekeeper Gala.

Jennie Smith-Peers, the Executive Director of ESTA, submitted the request for stationery along with several great images, and Kelly narrowed it down to the four pictures that she saw as perfect reflections of the organizations' mission. The blue background color came from the ESTA's own branding and website, which has a very clean design and user-friendly structure. Kelly created bits of texture and depth to frame the header and peek out from behind the content area, but she intentionally maintained a simplicity of design so that the spotlight would remain on Jennie's beautiful, powerful photos.

If you'd like to become a part of the ESTA story, visit their website here.

Until next time … love and hugs to all the nonprofits out there who are fighting the good fight!
Your Emma Design Team

If you would like to request your own Concierge Design stationery, head over to our online form. Not yet an Emma customer? Come say hi!

Why you shouldn’t send one big image—and what you can do instead

Building a slice and dice campaign
An example of a sliced image
Here's an example of a large image getting smaller slices applied to it.

You've seen them — image-only campaigns that don't fully load in your inbox or, worse, are too wide to properly render and look broken. You may have even tried to produce them — because, if your graphic designer created a beautiful print flyer, you want your audience to see it. So I understand that it's tempting to save it as a jpg and try plugging it into your email campaign.

But hang on. You're playing with email fire. Servers are more likely to filter emails with large images, meaning the campaign will end up in junk folders rather than your recipients' inboxes. Moreover, large images take a long time to load, and your recipients may move on to the next email in their inbox without viewing yours. And for email programs like Gmail and Outlook that block images by default, your campaign has no text to anchor it, and it'll look like an empty or broken email. Not good.

If that's not enough to deter you, there's another limitation to image-only campaigns worth mentioning. One image can only link to one URL, limiting your ability to include links to multiple articles or landing pages — and your ability to track your audience members' response activity.

So, do you have to scrap your large image entirely? The good news is that you can repurpose one large image into smaller, sliced images. We call it a slice and dice campaign, and it's something that our design team has been offering to our customers since we expanded our set of design options.

And now we've created a downloadable guide so you can build a slice and dice on your own. Armed with this guide and a bit of HTML know-how, you're able to slice your large image into more digestible pieces, link those pieces to any number of URLs you desire and safely send to your audience. You'll enjoy better delivery rates, and your campaign will properly render in all of the major email programs. Now that's good for you and good for your audience.

Emma's Guide to Building a Slice and Dice Campaign
Download Emma's Guide to Building a Slice and Dice Campaign here. (There's a lot of juicy content in there, so give it time to download.)

If you'd rather request a slice and dice campaign from our design team, fill out our online design form, and a design consultant will reach out with a quote and turnaround time.