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Recap: A chat with Mario Batali’s Pam Lewy

We had a blast talking all-things-Batali during our live Q&A with Pam Lewy. Pam tackled subjects ranging from the challenges of marketing for a celebrity to her thoughts on Periscope, social strategy, and video in email. Most importantly, she left us all with interesting, easily-applicable tips and helpful, real-life examples from the Batali brand. We can definitely get behind all the amazing marketing advice and expertise she shared! (We can’t, however, fully endorse the Batali brand’s fashion choices – it takes a bold personality to pull off orange Crocs!)

Since she covered so much, we thought it’d be a good idea to summarize some of the key takeaways from our chat (mostly related to email, since that’s kind of our thing) – read on and enjoy!

What’s your advice when it comes to subject lines? – Christie

Subject lines are incredibly tricky. And unfortunately, there are no hard-and-fast rules for writing them. Every audience is different, so experiment and split test to find out what works best for your audience. That being said, however, here are a a couple of tips that we’ve found work for us and our customers:

Keep it short. iPhones cut off subject lines at 32 characters, and exceeding 50 characters can sometimes lead to your email ending up in the dreaded junk/spam folder. If you have more to say, then you can always continue your thought in the preheader.

Value clarity over creativity. Your subscribers are only scanning their inboxes, so you don’t want to get too clever with your subject line. It might be hilarious, but you run the risk that they won't spend enough time on it to get the joke. Instead, be clear and specific about the content they can expect to see when they open. But that doesn’t mean you have to be boring!

Our audience has many different interests and demographics. Any suggestions for engaging all of them with effective messaging? – Ben

Segment, segment, segment! Segmenting your audience into groups makes it so much easier to send each group a clean, simple email with content that’s directly relevant to them. Information about the age, gender, geographic location, buying preferences, activity and engagement of your subscribers can help you send emails that will make your subscribers feel as if you truly understand them – because, thanks to all that data, you really do! And your engagement will skyrocket as a result.

What are some of the most important things to remember when it comes to email design? – Brandon

1. Take advantage of white space. While many brands overload their emails with an overwhelming amount of content, white space gives your recipients’ eyes a break from constant stimulation and draws their attention to what’s really important in your message. It also makes your mailing much more readable and engaging. Increased white space actually helps improve reading speed by 14% and comprehension by 20% – which is especially important as adult attention spans continue to decrease.

2. Use eye-catching imagery. While bare-bones emails can be effective, it’s great to capture your recipients’ imaginations with creative, captivating or delightfully understated email design. Plus, if you already have gorgeous promotional images in your back pocket (like, say, a photo of a scrumptious-looking, mouth-watering pizza), why not take full advantage of them in your email marketing?

3. Change things up with GIFs. Using an animated GIF in your email adds an element of surprise that isn’t there with static email campaigns. They’re a great way to capture the attention of your reader. Just be careful not to use GIFs too often: If used too frequently or aggressively, your subscribers may tire of the once-beloved tool and become less likely to engage with your campaigns.

What’s your #1 tip for writing engaging email content? – Lisa

Keep it as clear and concise as humanly possible. On average, people receive over 84 emails a day – so you have to make a big impression each time you show up in your audience’s inbox. Humans have gut reactions in 3 seconds or less, and the adult attention span has fallen to 8 seconds, so you also need to grab their attention as quickly as possible.

The more straightforward your message, the more attention-grabbing and likable your message will be. Get to the point and keep the focus on a strong, eye-catching CTA so your audience will know exactly what you're offering them or asking them to do.

How do you avoid annoying your mailing list? – Jessica

One of the best ways to stay in your audience’s good graces is to simply pay attention to what they like and what they don’t like. Keep an eye on what they're opening and clicking and adjust your messaging accordingly. People naturally respond better to content that’s catered to their needs and interests – and they’ll be off like a rocket if what you send them isn't what they’re looking for. 56% of people unsubscribe from emails due to content that’s no longer relevant to them (Chadwick Martin Bailey).

Automation is a great way to ensure the messages you’re sending to your audience are as timely and relevant – aka, least likely to annoy people – as possible. It’s the best way to reach the right customer with the right message at the right time (that’s a lot of rights). Plus, it makes our marketing lives easier and gets great results, so what’s not to love? As for how often to send, there will be a little bit of trial and error involved if you’re just getting started. We think sending once every week or two is a good place to start, but pay close attention to your email results to land on a cadence that works best for your audience.

Can’t get enough of Pam’s marketing smarts? Keep the conversation going by tweeting at @emmaemail using #AskPamLewy.