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5 questions with EOS Marketing & Communications

From a sunroom in Atlanta to rainmaking in Africa: How Margaret Gearing connects with her audience
Margaret Gearing
Margaret Gearing likes honest stories, smart websites and songs by Eminem.

The garage claims pride of place in many great beginnings. Storied men from Walt Disney to Steve Jobs launched their companies with little more than a bucket of dreams and a bench.

So I find it fitting that EOS Marketing & Communications originated in an Atlanta sunroom. Named for the Greek goddess of the dawn and founded in 2005 by ad mavens Margaret Gearing and Susan Frost, EOS started with bright ideas aplenty (and even a coffee table). Seven years later, EOS' accoutrements are more lavish: their office boasts a "Collaboration Center" with a 25 foot writing wall, and their full-service roster of goddesses (and a guy) cover everything from cause marketing to design to media coaching. No matter if the space is great or small, EOS' motto, "new day, fresh perspective" abides.

They're all about connecting and inspiring their audience to take action. In my chat with EOS' President, Margaret Gearing, we covered EOS' approach to email marketing, nonprofits with global impact and more. It's an interesting agency succes story, and it's my pleasure to share it with you.

From desktops to iPads to QR, it seems we'll be communicating on an area the size of a contact lens any minute. So about that 25 foot writing wall — how does all that brainstorming fit in the incredibly shrinking ad space?
The board is a collaborative means to an end. Having so much white space allows us to explore every facet of an idea, and everyone gets to contribute. The belief is: everything is possible, let's just write it down. We identify the big idea much more quickly this way versus tomes and reams of data that distract from edgy thinking.

How do you maintain a brand's voice across the marketing mix while tailoring it to the audience and medium you're targeting?
We start our strategic program by trying to come up with the big idea — the compelling proposition that will engage people. We try to keep it at its simplest level possible; even if you were sitting down to explain this to your mom, you'd be able to easily describe it. The last thing we ever think about is the medium in which these things will appear. We base it on whom we're trying to reach, customizing the tactical tools that best reach them.

I'll give you an example of what we're doing for MillBridge, a real estate development in North Carolina, and how we're building Emma into it. For this project, we've taken a new approach. Instead of writing for MillBridge, we're having the people who live there tell MillBridge's story in their own voice. We're looking at Gen X'ers, Millennials and empty nesters. The common denominator amongst all three is the same: people want a sense of community. They want a sense of authenticity.

We've done video interviews with everyone, including the elementary school principal. The voice in that kind of message comes across honestly, and it's better than anything I can write. You hear an empty nester saying, "This is the home I've always dreamed about. Jim and I started out life in a little Corvair, and everything we owned fit in it. Today we live here in this beautiful home." The viewer is right there in her living room, listening to her say this. If I wrote that, you're just going to dismiss it as some marketing person making stuff up. With the testimonials, you really get a sense of who's living there today — funny things people say, and the personality of the place.

What we've done with MillBridge is an example of taking a traditional, single family home community and turning it a little bit on its head. This Christmas we had a Lighting of the Bridge event that tapped into the iconic, romantic nature of the bridge that runs through the community. It resonates with prospects who want to be a part of it. Our message is, "We happen to have a lighting of the bridge." We don't add, "… on a special night in December with sparkling lights that glitter through the sky." No. We don't do that. We just let people talk, and they bring it to life.

My intuition about the market today is that most people want one thing: respect. That you think their time is important enough for you to tell the tale well, and that you would humbly appreciate them being a part of whatever it is you're doing. Respect and humility go hand in hand.

People have choices so you have to walk in their shoes to recognize what's important to them. Which is why you have to keep a lot of tools in your toolkit. Different things resonate with different types of people. If you're pregnant, you want to be near great schools. Seeing a school principal in a MillBridge video makes you feel good about the community.

Once we have that little gem of an idea like, "The things that bridge us together," that's what flourishes and moves out into social, e-blasts, etc. Email will play a bigger role in our efforts for this North Carolina community because we will have prospects. And we will want to talk with them on a regular basis.

How does a real estate developer go about finding and connecting with new prospects?
Everything we're doing is driving people to the website to sign up. Period. The number one objective of our traditional media is to reinforce the brand statement on the website. It's not to do the sale. It's about allowing people to find the content they want, and view testimonials from others. Our belief is that we're going to have an easier time getting people to sign up or register once they are able to do this.

When I look at Emma and email marketing for MillBridge, I look at them as a link to getting the audience into a bigger experience which is the website, and ultimately into allowing us to have their name and letting us talk to them — not marketing to them, but talking to them.

EOS has a passion for giving back. Can you tell us a little about the work you've done, and share a tip for other nonprofits that are trying to inspire their audience to act?
We work with the Replenish Africa Initiative from The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (RAIN). The promise of RAIN is clean water. Africa is so huge as a continent that no one company can take on this challenge; it takes the efforts of many. Consequently, when we started that campaign, they wanted a donation mechanism built in. So we had to look at this from a different point of view: what's the simple, big idea that will make that happen?

The idea was to start a social water movement, supported by people called RAIN Makers. We developed a tagline to engage and excite our audience: "Drops of hope, waves of change." An emotional positioning immediately engages people.

We're trying to reach socially responsible people who care about the planet. And that happens to be the younger generation. There's a global consumer movement afoot, insisting that companies are cognizant of the natural resources they're using, and consequently do something meaningful to minimize their footprint and give back.

Email will play a part in this, but it will probably be small at first. We're starting the rollout in South Africa, and we know the penetration of internet across the continent is pretty low. So we're going to have to leapfrog and do things like mobile marketing. In the U.S., we can go out through email and blogs and other areas. Emma is built into our database now on The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation's website. Our ultimate goal is creating email followers in order to maintain close contact.

As you can see in our Daybreak email campaign celebrating the first decade of The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, the photos are compelling, the stories are short and sweet, and you have a link to see the timeline on the website so it gives you a sense of what the bigger picture is.

My one tip for nonprofits is to get people to believe they make a difference. A lot of nonprofits ask for donations like it's a one-shot deal. The challenge is making people feel like they're part of a bigger movement, pushing that rock up a hill. A lot of it has to do with language — being completely transparent with a certain level of humility, and not asking for too much. Just whatever people can do. I read Wendy Smith's book, Give A Little: How Your Small Donations Can Transform Our World, before we started working on RAIN to understand how to help people find simple ways to make a contribution.

The other huge thing I've learned through RAIN is to show success and progress, and provide attribution to those who did it. The names make it real and bring it to life. Our map talks about who we're helping and how we're helping. Sharing results shows that the mission is happening now; it's real.

It took a lot of moxie for you to strike out on your own and launch EOS. What was your theme song when the going got tough?
Okay, I had two theme songs. First, Eminem's, "Lose Yourself." Its chorus goes like this: "Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip? You can do anything you set your mind to." The other is the classic Sting anthem, "Brand New Day."


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Five things you didn’t know about daily deals

Seize the Daily Deal
Click to download the PDF.

Lots of business owners have been turning to daily deal email campaigns to attract new customers lately, and many more are wondering if it's worth a try. To help cut through the hubbub, the Bradford Group teamed with Emma to create a guide of best practices, case studies and strategies for daily deals.

Download our Seize the Daily Deals guide here.

Along the way, we discovered some interesting facts. Here are five things we didn't know about daily deals:

1. Your industry matters

Are you a restaurateur? An interior designer? A ballroom dance instructor? When it comes to daily deals, your industry greatly influences the odds of a successful campaign. A Rice University study found that health services and special events were the most profitable deals for business owners, with 70% of businesses claiming profitability. Restaurants and spas were the least profitable, with 44% of businesses claiming profitability. Ironically, restaurants are also the most highly purchased deal. Go figure.

2. Expect spurts and lulls

The largest surge of daily deal customers typically occurs at the beginning and end of a promotion. A Yipit study found that approximately 25% of coupons are redeemed in both the first and last months of the deal. When determining how long your deal should last, factor these spurts and lulls into your foot traffic estimations. In most cases, a deal with an expiration of three or six months should suffice. A year is too long.

3. 85 is the new 100

Historically, 15-20% of buyers never redeem their coupons, but businesses still receive profits off these sales. So if your business sells 100 deals, look for 80 to 85 to be cashed in. A ForeSee poll found that 62% of these shoppers are potential new, or infrequent customers. With 100 deals sold, your business can expect about 50 new customers walking through the doors.

4. No two deal providers are alike

To differentiate themselves, daily deal providers take either the super store or boutique approach, driving business through either the quantity and reach of their email subscribers or via the importance of location and business niche to their subscribers. Partner with a daily deal site whose business goals are most in line with your own. For example, if your company has a philanthropic vein, you could find a deal provider that will donate a portion of its profits to a non-profit in your company's name. You can also find vertical-focused sites, like Daily Gourmet for foodies.

5. Timing can be tricky

Most daily deal providers have a waiting list — some as long as nine months. On the one hand, this gives you plenty of time to plan your deal; on the other, if you've been putting off running a daily deal until a special event or your next slow time, you might want to consider reaching out to a provider to get a little more information and a realistic timeline.

Ready to plan your first, or next, promotion and looking for more tips? Download our Seize the Daily Deal and get a crash course on planning, launching and profiting from deal-a-day promotions.

Have some daily deal advice of your own? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Erin Gagnon
Erin Gagnon is an account executive for the Bradford Group, a full-service public relations, advertising and marketing agency based in Nashville. You can reach her by email at, or via Twitter at @ErinDGagnon.

When life gives you iPads & Kindles, make an email marketing strategy

How authors and publishers use email to increase reader engagement

I'm a sucker for a hardbound novel that's way too heavy to carry, but looks like a piece of artwork on my shelf. Even though iPads and Kindles make buying, consuming and transporting reading material incredibly easy, I'll never stop collecting gorgeous physical copies of books.

While I hope book buying never fades away completely, a relentless technological tide and shifting economy have forced even the most traditional denizens of the literary world to go with the online flow. Since more people are reading online, it makes sense for publishers and authors to focus their marketing efforts there as well.

Here are a few examples from folks in the publishing industry who are successfully utilizing email marketing to stay in touch with readers and broaden their audience. Hopefully, these will inspire you to put pen to paper, er, fingers to keyboard.

Janet Evanovich's newsletter
Keep up with your favorite characters with Janet Evanovich's newsletter.

Janet Evanovich | Living beyond the page

Ever put down a book and find yourself immediately missing your favorite character? Me, too. Janet Evanovich builds excitement for her next novel by sending email updates written in the voice of Mooner from her bestselling Plum series.

Have a little fun and let your imagination do the heavy lifting. Consider using Emma's trigger feature to send a clever (and automatic) hello from you or one of your favorite characters when someone subscribes to your newsletter.

+ See a recent campaign
+ Follow @janetevanovich on Twitter
+ Sign up for Janet's newsletters

Patti Digh
Want to know where Patti will be next? Sign up to receive her emails.

Patti Digh | Making an appearance

Self-help author Patti Digh would like to read to you. And more importantly, inspire you! After all, musicians aren't the only ones who get to travel the country spreading their talent to lucky listeners.

Send an email letting fans know when you're doing a reading in a town near them. Ask for subscribers to provide their zip codes, then use Emma's search and segment tool to easily follow up with them when you're pulling into their city.

+ See a recent newsletter
+ Follow @pattidigh on Twitter
+ Read Patti's blog

Oxford American previews what's coming up next.

Oxford American | Featuring offline content

Wondering what to expect in the next issue of Oxford American Magazine? Here, the team at OA does a great job of touching on topics to look forward to, as well as encouraging email subscribers to purchase hard copy versions.

Sending an issue synopsis is the perfect way to pique your reader's interest. Don't forget to create links that easily direct traffic so folks can dig into your content back at your website. Then, check out Emma's response section to see who's clicking to read more and which topics resonate.

+ See a recent newsletter
+ Follow @oxfordamerican on Twitter
+ Connect with Oxford American on Facebook


Want more ideas? Check out the slide show below for additional examples from authors.


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Crazy about email design?

Our picks for the best design-related posts on the Emma blog
An example of a sliced image

In the past year, we covered everything from fancy-lookin' customer emails to email makeovers to (lots of) mobile design tips. In this roundup, we're sharing the best design-related posts on the Emma blog.

1. Building a slice and dice campaign: Instead of compromising email deliverability with one big image, we taught you how to code an image into smaller slices.

2. Designing emails for smartphones: Guest blogger Anna Yeaman, creative director of Style Campaign, shared her top six mobile design tips.

3. Research, inspiration and doodling: Taylor Schena offered a behind-the-scenes look at her design process.

4. Stylishly formatted email campaigns: We featured five customers with effective content arrangements in their emails.

5. HTML code for email layouts: We gave you access to the code of Emma's content layouts to use and adapt if you're building campaigns with an Upload Your Own HTML template.

6. More mobile tips: Miles Price weighed in with more design tips for crafting emails for mobile devices.

7. An email makeover: We highlighted a refreshed email strategy and brand new look for Rumours Wine & Art Bar in Nashville.

8. Animated GIFs of the future: Cody De Vos paved the way for using animated GIFs in your email campaigns.


For even more design inspiration, see our design showcases.

What design topics would you like to see us feature next? Let us know by commenting here.

Design showcase: The navigation edition

A look at custom email templates that direct readers to more than just the homepage

Navbars, nav links, navigation menus — no matter what you call them, they're part of almost any website that you visit. They're usually a series of buttons or text links like Home, About Us or Order a Platypus, and they provide the most direct way to move about a website's various pages (especially if you're like me and are always looking for the shortest route to a platypus bargain).

What you may not know, though, is that they can also be a very helpful addition to your email template. Let's take a look at some of Emma's custom designs that include navigation links, and some of the benefits of including them.


University Settlement custom design | Emma Email Marketing

Client: University Settlement
Designer: Kelly McClain
Design Level: Concierge Design

University Settlement is a fantastic organization that provides a range of social services and support for immigrant families in New York City. Their colorful tab navigation is eye-catching and easily recognizable to anyone who has visited their home page.

Kelly's inclusion of those tabs in her design creates strong brand recognition due to the visual consistency between their website and email stationery. That kind of familiarity really helps when subscribers are deciding whether they should read your painstakingly-crafted campaign, and it also keeps their experience of your online presence as seamless as possible.

Lex Gillette custom design | Emma Email Marketing

Client: UCSD Track & Field / Lex Gillette
Designer: Kelly McClain
Design Level: Concierge Design

An inspiring paralympic athlete and motivational speaker, Lex Gillette has a content-packed website and a lengthy navigation menu to match. Much of what makes his site so visually memorable, though, is his striking portrait in conjunction with the spare color palette. Knowing the best approach would be consistency here, Kelly chose to echo the look and feel of the website to reinforce his singular branding, as she did with the University Settlement design featured above.

The big difference here is that University Settlement's five colorful tabs are a primary feature of their stationery header; Lex Gillette's has twice that number of links, so the header would look cluttered if the navigation were more prominent. Kelly's challenge, then, was to include the links as unobtrusively as possible without making them too inconspicuous — a goal she accomplished quite tidily.

And while ten navigation links is a lot to include in a stationery design, there's definitely a benefit: on Emma's response page, the client will be able to track click-throughs to each linked page. That way, he'll be able to gauge each campaign's ability to generate interest in specific areas of his site.

Homeworks custom design | Emma Email Marketing

Client: HomeWorks
Designer: Taylor Schena
Design Level: Concierge Design

HomeWorks, a company that not only contracts home improvements but offers do-it-yourself coaching and educational services to homeowners, has a distinctively hand-drawn, tactile look and feel to their website. Their main page contains ten navigation links — like the Lex Gillette site mentioned above — and Taylor's design is an excellent example of a different way to handle that many links.

In this case, instead of trying to cram all of those whimsically-penciled navigation icons from their site into the smaller confines of an email stationery header, Taylor helped the client narrow down the links to what they considered to be the four most essential. This is a helpful reminder that you don't have to include all your nav links; in fact, limiting links will aid in driving traffic to particular pages of your site that you'd most like to feature.

Anna Mae Southern Bread custom design | Emma Email Marketing

Client: Anna Mae's Southern Bread Co.
Designer: Cody Newman
Design Level: Concierge Design

Of course, your design doesn't have to look like your website in order to include a navigation menu. Anna Mae's Southern Bread Co., a bakery that crafts slow-risen, artisan sourdough rolls, loved the look of their site but preferred that their stationery resemble their delightful product packaging.

Cody recreated the look of their packaging by using the distinctive border decoration, block print graphics and background texture, and he was also able to cleverly incorporate their four nav links into the design. Their inclusion doesn't take away from the feel of what the client wanted, while still offering the advantage of direct page links in their header.


Want to see even more custom email templates with navigation menus? Take a look at these six examples from Emma customers.

If you're ready to get yourself a fancy new stationery with navigation links ("Order Platypus" button optional), you can get started by filling out our design request form and we'll take it from there.

Until next time, much navigational love from your Emma Design Team!

Lights! Camera! Email?

How to make the most of videos in your email campaigns

A while back, I decided to revisit a craft I'd always wanted to hone: video editing. And, wouldn't you know it, ever since upgrading to my fancy new software, I'm seeing the potential to make videos all over the place. It's like my Dad always said: "Give a man a hammer, and every problem looks like a nail."

As a medium for your message, online video is a mighty fine-looking hammer. Internet Retailer reports that visitors who view product videos are a whopping 85% more likely to make a purchase. It's easier than ever to create video content, and when done right, it works wonders for your company's credibility.

In fact, video and email are two of the most effective communication tools on the web. And together they are even more powerful — case studies and split tests show that video links improve conversions by anywhere from 9% to 400%. Numbers like these don't go unnoticed by advertisers. The Email Experience Council shares that projected budgets for online video ads will increase 22% from 2011 to 2012.

But how can you be sure that video is the right medium for your message? It doesn't matter how exquisitely crafted your hammer is: If you use it to change a light bulb, you're going to make quite a mess. So let's take a look at some ways to make the most of videos. With these in mind, your video content is sure to get great results.

Video provides education

GQ works video into many of their email campaigns

GQ Magazine knows that some things must be demonstrated to sink in.

When I decided to change the oil in my car for the first time, I immediately set out in search of instructions on the web. It quickly became clear that reading instructions wasn't enough: I needed to see it done. A few training videos later, I changed my oil without a hitch. (Sure, it still wasn't a pretty process, but it could've been a lot worse.)

Sometimes, words and images alone aren't the best way to teach others. GQ Magazine routinely employs crisp, stylish instructional videos in their email campaigns. In their quest to teach guys like me a thing or two about scarves, video content does the trick.

Video connects us

Global Giving shares a

Global Giving invites donors to share in their victories.

People love watching and, maybe more importantly, sharing videos. Even those that only last seven seconds. What other medium could prompt the shared experience of millions of people worldwide so quickly?

That's why I love this video in a recent Global Giving email. In just three minutes, they illustrate the value of donor contributions and the heart of their mission. By pairing this video with a personal email message, Global Giving shows appreciation for their donors in a way that's more memorable than text and images alone.

Video entertains

What can video do that words simply can't? Sing and dance. Sometimes it's okay for a video to be pure entertainment. In the case of artist promos, that's often the whole point. Indie record label Jagjaguwar — home to Bon Iver and other coffee house favorites — uses video in email to promote their roster and engage in a little online community building, too. By featuring an artist-created music video (shot by the song's performer, Lia Ices), and inviting readers to submit their own video for this song, they build buzz for an emerging artist while tapping into a lively online videography community.

In a demographically ideal pairing, the winning video played on, a prime destination for all aspiring filmmakers. It was the perfect marriage of old-fashioned promotion and user-generated content sharing.

Jagjaguwar's unique music video contests invites readers to submit their own creations
Jagjaguwar gives readers the chance to share their own music video creations.

Suddenly feeling a little Spielbergian? Check out Molly's tips for sharing video in your email campaigns, grab your video camera (or even just your smartphone) and start exploring.

Just remember: Every video click is a time commitment for your readers, and they watch the seconds go by on their screen. So show them that you value their time by keeping your videos as tight and informative as you can. And if you need any help sharing your video in your email campaigns, don't hesitate to get in touch.


Want to revise your email stationery or request a brand new template? Use Emma's design form to tell us what you'd like.

Emma City Guide: New York, NY

Tour NYC this Valentine's Day and meet some of our favorite Big Apple customers

I'm back for another stop in our tour of Emma cities, and today I'm highlighting some of our New York City customers. And since it's Valentine's Day, I've added a bit of a romantic twist to my lineup of Big Apple destinations. February 14th means different things to different people — that is, not everyone expects to meet their soulmate at the top of the Empire State Building today — but the magical thing about New York City is that there's enough romance for everyone.



219 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn


Were you that kid in 2nd grade who distributed handmade Valentines while your classmates settled for assembling the boxed variety? Do you gravitate toward great design, appreciate a well-curated shop and just love love? Then you'll want to pop into Catbird this month to get in on the Valentine goodies. Or if you're admiring NYC from afar, visit their website and ogle collections of jewelry, stationery and treasures for the home. Oh, and while you're there, sign up for their emails to get a heads-up about free shipping offers, new products and maybe even a little special surprise on your birthday.


+ See a recent campaign
+ Visit their website

Kiki de Montparnasse

79 Greene Street, Manhattan


Kiki de Montparnasse
If you've moved past conversation hearts and Bee Mine cards (buzz), New York City has got you covered. After all, it's home to Kiki de Montparnasse, which boasts a luxury lingerie line sure to make your Valentine's Day special. Every product in their flagship boutique is ensconced in romance, and their online shop lets you get in on the fun even if a trip to SoHo isn't on your agenda. Kiki de Montparnasse uses Emma to promote new products and invite subscribers to exclusive events.


+ See a recent campaign
+ Visit their website

Daniel Boulud Restaurants


Boulud Sud
For some, Valentine's Day is all about candlelight, good wine and just about the best meal you could possibly imagine. Look no further than the restaurants of renowned Chef Daniel Boulud. Whether you're catching a quick pre-theater meal at DBGB Kitchen and Bar (try the burger!) or spending the whole evening lingering over a four-course prix fixe menu at Boulud Sud, it'll be a night to remember. Subscribers to Boulud's emails were recently enticed with a sneak peek of the Valentine's Day menus and a link to online reservations. They had me at Chocolate Macadamia Almond Cream Cake …


+ See a recent campaign
+ Visit their website

Brooklyn Public Library

10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn


The Brooklyn Public Library is an unexpected Valentine's Day destination, but it's a lovely place to spend an afternoon with someone you love. With an impressive permanent collection highlighting Brooklyn's rich history and ever-changing events calendar, BPL sends the highlights to more than 100,000 subscribers so they'll know to check out cool exhibits like Building Stories. Go yourself, and you won't only get to be cute and couply with your Valentine, but you'll learn about city architecture and start seeing your surroundings in new ways.


+ See a recent email campaign
+ Visit their website

Whole Foods Culinary Center

95 East Houston, Manhattan


Whole Foods Culinary Center
Rather than go out for a Valentine's Day meal with all the other couples, surprise your sweetie with a cooking class at Whole Foods Market. The Bowery Culinary Center is offering up a menu of intriguing classes this February — who wouldn't be delighted to attend Beer & Southeast Asian Cuisine or The Winter Herbal Kitchen? The Culinary Center uses smartly placed signup forms to keep website visitors in the know, and their campaigns contain clear calls to action with class registration links.


+ See a recent campaign
+ Visit their website

Physique 57


Physique 57
Maybe you're not in a romantic relationship right now. Maybe you're still going to have the best-ever Valentine's Day, thanks to your best-ever friends. If you're looking for ideas to gather the gals for an outing, consider a group fitness class at Physique 57. In one hour, you'll stretch, strengthen and tone by performing a variety of exercises to energizing music that's always changing to keep things fresh. You might even catch their Love Songs playlist in an upcoming class, which was cleverly promoted in a recent email campaign. It's the kind of exercise experience that always puts a smile on my face and makes me feel a little less guilty about indulging in a Valentine's Day pastry later in the day.


+ See a recent campaign
+ Visit their website

Canal Room

285 West Broadway at Canal, Manhattan


Canal Room
Perhaps a night on the town is in order, too. Why not meet up at Canal Room, a music and event venue that has some pretty irresistible shows on its February calendar. Make plans to dance the night away to your favorite guilty pleasures, courtesy of 80s cover band Rubix Kube. The Back to the Eighties show runs Saturdays in February and March, and it's guaranteed to be one of those dance-in-a-circle-you've-tossed-your-purses-in-the-center-of kind of nights. Canal Room fans learn about upcoming events through regular email updates, and since the email stationery matches the look of the Canal Room website, it's a seamless experience to hop from one to the other.


+ See a recent campaign
+ Visit their website

Whatever your plans are, we wish you a lovely Valentine's Day! And if you want to catch up on our other city guides in the places Emma calls home, click to read about Austin, Portland and Denver.


Emma powers the emails of more than 30,000 businesses, nonprofits and agencies. Try Emma. For free. Inquire now.

Improving your email list

How to use advanced tools and strategy to nurture your growing audience

Yesterday, I offered tips for turning your email readers into buyers , but those tactics may not do you a ton of good until you've really engaged your audience. Today, we'll look at a few strategies for nurturing your growing audience.

Email audience

Make time to nurture your growing email list.

So, take a walk with me down memory lane. When your email marketing strategy was young, you created signup forms to help it grow. As your strategy blossomed, you promoted your email newsletter through social channels and enabled Social Sharing . You kept it in line with a straightforward privacy and permission policy . You even developed a birthday club and segmented your audience by demographics.

Your list is all grown up. What now?

At this stage, I imagine that your email marketing goals are more advanced. You're keen to keep your original fans while attracting a larger crowd, but as you do so, you want to maintain strong delivery rates and engagement. Now's the time to pair your goal of growth with additional measures like effective messaging, relationship building and higher delivery rates.

Here are a few ways to do just that:

+ Segment beyond demographics . Your audience list likely falls into more relevant categories than male/female and north/south. For example, a brand new subscriber may respond better to being treated like a very special newbie than simply receiving a particular demographic's message. To kick off that relationship, develop a series of welcome emails for new subscribers that introduces them to your content and messaging. Retool a particularly successful past campaign or build a new one from scratch, or both. (For more ideas, Cody gives tips galore on segmenting your subscribers based on their relationship with you .) Alternatively, if you have a longer purchase cycle than traditional retail, you may want to segment based on your recipients' place in that process. Read my perspective on segmenting based on customer lifecycle .

+ Elicit audience actions to help your emails succeed in filtered inboxes . Most popular webmail clients (like Gmail and Hotmail) do some automatic filtering for their users. Unloved email senders start to get filtered to the "unimportant" category — and sometimes right out of the inbox. To combat this, encourage your readers to perform the actions that say "this email is valuable" to the inboxes that use these algorithms.

A reply is one of the most powerful indicators to the inbox filter that your email is wanted. Ask your subscribers to reply to your email, vote in a poll or ask questions. Subscriber clicks are also powerful boosts for your reputation; craft situations where readers click, even if they're not shopping or reading more. For example, let subscribers provide feedback by clicking on links right from your email. Keep in mind that every non-open hurts your reputation with all recipients at that domain, so send and segment wisely.

Ask subscribers to reply to improve inbox placement.

Email expert Mark Brownlow encourages subscribers to reply directly to him.

+ Measure past the click to learn what speaks to your audience. Your Emma response page shows you which links in your newsletter were the most popular. For an even deeper look into your audience's preferences, tag your links using an analytics tool like Google Analytics to learn where your subscribers are ultimately landing. For a tutorial, read Cassie's guide to implementing Google Analytics .

+ Develop a plan for non-engaged subscribers . Disengaged subscribers hurt your sender reputation. Periodic pruning of your list is a good idea. First, define what "inactive" means for your brand. Is it someone who hasn't opened, clicked or engaged through any channels in three months? Six months? A year?

Next, create your plan of attack. Will you send a few emails asking folks to opt back in and then remove those who don't? Is opening the reactivation email enough to be considered active? Give your plan a try, and then move those lifeless email addresses out of your regular sending list. You may decide to remove them completely or send less frequently for a while before saying goodbye. Just don't be alarmed if your reactivation campaign doesn't win the majority of folks back. With email address turnover these days, many of them may not be salvageable.

Moving beyond "one size fits all" messaging and saying goodbye to your non-openers isn't always an easy transition, but your response rates will reflect the additional effort. Before you know it, those folks who stick around will be engaging with you in ways you may not have expected — and helping spread the word about you to new, attentive subscribers.

This is part three in our blog series on audience growth. Read parts one and two .


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A peek at the New York Giants' email marketing strategy

This Sunday, millions of people will gather to watch the Super Bowl. For some, it's all about the commercials. For others, it's about critiquing Madonna's half-time performance. And for the sports fans among us, it's about the matchup of two football teams who had very different, and equally exciting, seasons. Regardless of which side you're rooting for, Emma is proud to power the emails of this year's NFC Champions, the New York Giants. The folks that handle the Giants' premium ticket holder relations have knocked their email strategy out of the park, er, into the end zone. Take a look at a few of the ways Rachel Wohl and her team tackle email marketing.

The right message to the right people

The Giants' marketing team understands the art of audience segmentation. With various levels of ticket holder, messaging has to be specific. By segmenting smaller groups based on ticketing level, the Giants ensure the relevancy of every message that hits the inbox. In turn, recipients trust that their time is not being wasted with unnecessary information. The Giants average open rate is a whopping 55% — that's more than twice the industry average!

New York Giants' response numbers
Taking time to target your messages can make a huge difference in your response metrics.
In short: While the Giants have built-in segments to work with, any business can find ways to get more focused with messaging. If you're a nonprofit, consider creating unique audience groups for donors versus volunteers. Retail shops and restaurants can group by recipient preferences. And businesses with multiple locations can use zip codes to divide their database. Find what groupings make sense for your business and industry, and use Emma's search and segment feature to make it happen. Then, test to see if segment-specific messages make a difference in your response rates.

Having fun with the brand

With a legacy that goes back to 1925, the Giants have established themselves as one of the most recognizable brands in the NFL. The block-style "NY" logo is as instantly familiar as their blue and red uniforms. In keeping with that tradition, the Giants' email stationery boldly conveys the brand. And once you've got brand recognition, it's easy to loosen up and have a little fun. The Giants call on Emma's design team to occasionally adjust their existing stationery by adding subtle nods to various seasons. From hints of pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month to leaves for fall and snowflakes for winter, the stationery stays true to the brand while delivering a little surprise and delight along the way.

New York Giants' email stationery
Adding new elements to existing stationery is a fun way to change things up.
In short: If you're getting bored of your newsletter's look, chances are your audience is a little bored too. Why not get creative? Adding holiday elements for an end-of -year push is an obvious place to start, but any season or special event in your business or industry can inform a slight variation on your existing template. Send a design request to our team, and we'll walk through the details with you.

Keeping the party going

The Super Bowl is a time to party, and that's especially true for the Giants and their fans this year. As a special thank you for continued support, the Giants planned a party for their premium ticket holders. They worked with our design team to create a custom email that has the feel of an exclusive invitation, while incorporating brand familiarity. To manage the response, the Giants linked the invitation to an Emma-powered survey, which acts as an RSVP form. When recipients fill out the survey, all the information goes right into the response section in the Giants' account, making it easy to track and follow up.

New York Giants' invitation and RSVP survey
Pairing a survey with an email invitation makes tracking and follow-up a breeze.
In short: Consider managing your next event right within your Emma account. Create an email invitation, link it to a survey that collects all of your RSVP details, and then set up triggered emails to remind attendees about the event in advance. You could even create a follow-up survey after the event to gather feedback. Need help geting started? Our support team would be happy to show you how it all works together.


As you watch on Sunday and get swept up in the gameday antics, take a moment to marvel at all the behind-the-scenes work that boosts fan engagement and participation. We're thrilled to be partnered with the Giants, and we're excited to see how their marketing team continues to smartly reach their fans.


Ready to freshen up your email stationery? Request revisions from Emma's design team.

Organizing Emma’s customer feedback

How Kindling helps make the best ideas happen

Emma customers are a bright, clever and vocal bunch. When you talk, we listen. And take notes. And then organize those notes in a not-overly-OCD way. Our choice for organization is a tool called Kindling. We add customers' suggestions, feedback and ideas in Kindling for everyone at Emma to see. To date we have over 700 I-really-wish-Emma-woulds and What-if-there-was-a-way-tos. Many of these ideas are in development now, and many more are waiting for their chance at greatness.

It's pretty simple for us to express our support for an idea in Kindling: just click a button to vote it up. More votes means more popularity and traction for an idea.

One of the most popular ideas in Kindling was just unveiled as a new feature in our Featurepalooza. "I'd really love to know when someone signs up for my email list," you said. We heard this from many customers over time, so it's no surprise that this idea rose to the top in Kindling. Now, notifications is a feature that's available in our new system, and coming soon to your account, too.

Finding great ideas hasn't always been so easy, though. Kindling's newest case study recalls the dark ages of idea management at Emma, and how we adopted Kindling as a core part of our customer-focused culture.

If you've ever sent in a wish list, complaint, frustration or random musing loosely related to email marketing, we're watching it in Kindling. If it's popular, the next place you might see it is in your account.


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