Connecting with consumers to learn more about your own brand

Takeaways from Advertising Week

If you asked your customers (or anyone familiar with your organization) to describe your brand in a word, what do you think you'd hear?

That question stuck with me after attending the 9th annual Advertising Week in New York City earlier this week. Emma is proud to be the email marketing provider for this great organization, which puts on a fabulous event that brings together the best and brightest minds to engage in conversations about advertising. The topics range from content to privacy to medium to brand.

I went to a fantastic panel called the Best Global Brands 2012: The Human Touch. Senior marketers from UPS, Harley Davidson and Microsoft, were moderated by the Josh Feldmeth, CEO of Interbrand New York, which is an agency that I've had the pleasure of working with a number of times.

At one point the panelists were asked to reflect on a moment when they really connected with the impact of their brand in the world. Mark-Hans Richer, CMO at Harley-Davidson, shared a story of his recent motorcycle ride through China to Tibet. As he was approaching Tibet, he stopped at a rock wall where people paint Chinese characters that are carved into the rock. Richer asked a man to paint on his jacket what Harley-Davidson meant to him. The characters the man painted read "freedom." This action, halfway around the world, solidified for Richer what his brand means to him. 

This is the most exciting thing about being a marketer, isn't it? Getting those one-word answers about what your product means to the people who use it is powerful stuff, and it can distill your work in meaningful ways.

Some of my favorite single words that I have heard people use to describe Emma are easy, intuitive, funny and creative. What is the word that you would use?

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What we’re reading now: on emails that break the rules

As an email marketing strategist, I rarely recommend throwing out the rulebook. After all, best practices have developed for a reason: they help your emails reach the inbox and generally increase conversions. However, you don't want to fall into the trap of being too much of a stickler – or, worse, completley unoriginal. Breaking the rules and trying something unusual might earn you solid, unexpected results.

Read on for three ideas that flip best practices on their head.

  • Add a postscript. A P.S. at the end of an email is a fun twist that's usually reserved for letters and quick, personal emails. Marketing Profs shows that this signoff trick helps focus readers' attention in commercial emails, too. (You'll need a subscription to the 'Profs to read the full article. We recommend it, if you don't have one already.) Learn more >>
  • Break your images to make a point. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) intentionally designed a "hidden" image to point out that not everything comes into focus with the click of a mouse. Learn more >>
  • Omit something that's usually considered a must-have. Leaving off a subject line may sound like an email marketing nightmare, but DJ Waldow suspects that the Obama campaign did it on purpose in this example. He points out that most "no subject" emails come from friends and family, which may cause folks to take a second look. And, even if it was accidental, it may have had that effect. Learn more >>

What email rules have you broken with (or without) success? Let us know in the comments.

See more email marketing tips in our resource center.

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What’s new at Emma

A roundup of recent articles, tutorials and happenings

We're here to help you on your way to email marketing greatness, and we'd like to share a few of the new articles and tutorials we've created in the last few weeks.

Getting started

If you're new to Emma, be sure to check out our Getting Started Guide, a quick overview of your account and everything you need to send your first campaign.

Using our new drag & drop editor

Selecting a template from our gallery

Crafting great emails

Help & how-to

Need a little extra direction? Visit our help section for step-by-step instructions on setting up your audience, building campaigns and understanding response numbers. Plus, we've got advice on becoming an email expert, putting the latest trends to work and telling your company story.

Coming soon

We've received terrific feedback from customers on our content editor, and we're busy making improvements so it'll be faster, simpler and more intuitive. To those who asked for a button to remove formatting or wanted text wrapping *on* by default, you'll notice those changes in your account. Thanks for speaking up, and keep sharing your ideas in the comments below.

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A spotlight of three restaurants in NYC

How these Emma customers use email to keep & attract customers

In July 2010, Emma established a presence in the Big Apple. I opened our New York City office, and I lead up our business development efforts here. In 2011, I was joined by my colleague, Claire Burns, who helps our largest clients with some personalized email strategy. Claire and I are located in SoHo, which puts us in an excellent location for some of the (many) culinary delights that NYC has to offer.

Choosing a restaurant in NYC is both exciting and overwhelming. In Manhattan alone, which is only 23 square miles, there are over 4,000 Zagat-rated restaurants, and in all five boroughs, there are nearly 26,000 restaurants. As a patron, you almost have too many options.

I generally decide where I'm going to eat based on what's at the top of my mind on any given day, and guess what I think is the best way for a restaurant to stay top of mind? Why, by sending emails, of course.

What makes email marketing so successful for restaurants?

First, it allows you to trigger a customers's vicarious experience. They're looking at well-placed images of your food, hearing about your specials-of-the-week and picturing themselves sitting down to happy hour on your porch. (It's such a lovely porch, after all.)

Now, let's imagine someone's already been to your restaurant. A few times, even. In that case, your emails have the opportunity to strengthen your fan base. Use personal stories to let them know more about your brand and your beginnings. Profile particular waiters, waitresses or chefs, so visitors have a feeling of getting to know them.

In the end, you've created an experience that's more than just about the food. And that helps encourage repeat business – and word-of-mouth recommendations.

Three restaurants who do email well

I love signing up to receive emails from Emma customers in NYC, and some of my favorite restaurants have recently caught my eye.

Monument Lane, a favorite new restaurant in the West Village, does a great job of gathering email addresses with a card placed in the bill. (Folks are most likely to sign up for your emails right after they've had a great experience with you.)

Their email stationery mimicks the styling of their menu – that continuity of branding is a fabulous idea, as it triggers customers' memories of the place. 

See the online version of the email >>

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I'm also a big fan of Mario Batali. May I go ahead and call him a genius in the kitchen?

He's also got talented folks in his marketing department, and they share recipes, videos and more with their email audience.

Their new Monthly Molto! newsletter is a great example of how to make email content relevent, timely and replicable.

See the online version of the email >>

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Finally, Danny Meyer uses Emma to keep folks up to date – and announce new locations – of one of my favorite burger joints, Shake Shack.

He's also using email to promote his newest restaurant, Maialino. Email is one of the quickest and most affordable ways to leverage your existing customer base when you've got a new announcement to make.

See the online version of the email >>

What can email do for your brand?

Of course, in these three examples, I'm talking about established restaurants, but the nice thing about email is that it's cost effective and equally easy to implement whether you're running a large brand or just getting started. Emma's tools are simple to use, so they work well for businesses with marketing and graphic design teams, as well as one-person shops.

We want to help you by ...

  • Finding the design option that works. Whether you choose one of the templates from our template gallery or order a customized email design, your email will look like it's coming from your brand.
  • Giving you creative control. Our drag & drop content editor allows you to flexibly build your email layout, any way you'd like. Add a text box here, an image box there, then drag and drop to reorder and rearrange your content.
  • Working with you one-on-one. Have you chatted with our support team yet? They're real people, ready to answer the phone and solve your email marketing quanderies. (Unless those quanderies involve superstring theory. In which case, you're on your own.)

Know of other brands doing email marketing well? We'd love to hear of them. Comment here to keep the conversation going.

New to Emma? Learn how to get started for free.

 

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What we’re reading now: on designing gorgeous email campaigns

A new batch of don't-miss articles for creative types

We love email marketing around here. (Not obvious at all, right?) And we love helping agencies, small businesses and nonprofits create share-worthy email campaigns that help their businesses grow.

We're so very excited about the recent launch of our new content editor, and we can't wait to see how you'll use it to create emails that stand out in the inbox. Here are a few reads that'll help you do just that.

Articles for the writerly types:

  • Bookmark the 9 must-have components of compelling email copy. It contains the basic concepts as well as specific details for pulling great subject lines, calls to action and more, making it a good read for beginners and email marketing veterans alike.
  • Skip to the head of the class by reading Graham Charlton's What I've learned from writing 2,000 blog posts. His article is geared toward blog posts, but it's easily applicable to email as well. (Be sure to check out the "headlines" section for subject line know-how.)

Articles for designers:

  • Rethinking mobile email design is more important than ever as mobile email readership continues to grow. No longer a temporary until-I-get-back-to-my-desktop solution, mobile is increasingly the chosen platform for consumers (especially in bed or during a TV show). Edit call-to-action buttons and spacing for touch screens using these pixel recommendations.
  • Haven't had your fill of mobile tips yet? Read this ClickZ article on designing for a reader who's on-the-go. It might just convince you to move away from a mobile version of your email, and instead just design your primary campaign so it works for all readers.

Catch up on campaign goodness from the Emma blog:

We think you're in for a treat with our new campaign features, and we'd love to help you along the way. If you need account assistance, visit our searchable help section, or reach out to our support team. If you're an Emma Agency with questions about supporting your clients, our agency relations team has you covered.

New to Emma? Get started with 30 days free.

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Being timely = being amazing

Successful customer support means going the extra mile

In today’s world of instant gratification — where customers can tweet, email and call you within the same five-minute timeframe — you can never turn off your customer service. Plus, potential customers and current ones are not exclusively active during the traditional nine-to-five work hours. Being able to respond with a timely reply is more important than ever.

Service that stands out

Let me share an example. I’m at the point in my life where I’m looking to get in better shape and live a healthier lifestyle. Recently, I was curious about running so I did what I always do when I have a question: I asked it on Twitter.

I was flooded with responses. People on Twitter are extremely helpful, and with a topic as popular as running, there were lots of opinions. I’m still getting responses this morning.

I thanked everyone and went about my day.

Later, as I looked more closely at my replies, I noticed this tweet from @naturalrunstore:

Less than two hours after I asked my question, a company had chimed in. It wasn’t Puma, New Balance or Reebok (who all have local offices near me), but rather Richmond, Virginia-based Natural Running Store.

As I write this post roughly 24 hours after asking my question, they are still the only running company that was listening enough to chime in and answer.

But, they didn’t just reply to a tweet and leave it at that. They followed one of our Content Rules: “Share or Solve, Don’t Shill.” They realized that answering my question might be hard to do in the 140-character limit of Twitter and instead recorded a quick, custom video.

Yes, this running shoe company took time out of their day to film a video for me. The video is personalized by my name and, at the end, it references my book and a couple of other things I had talked about online earlier in the day.

If you watch the video, you’ll see that it’s obviously filmed in their store. You’ll hear people working in the background — it’s not overly-produced or scripted. It is simply a heartfelt conversation that they probably have multiple times every day in the store with customers who walk in.

The only difference? They realized their store is more than the brick-and-mortar structure they are based in.

So, how does this apply to you?

You might not be able to record custom videos for every question you get. But, couldn’t you take the top 10 most-frequently-asked questions and film video answers to them? Then, when you receive those questions via social media or email, send along the video link.

The personalization in this particular video was awesome, but honestly, if they had sent me a note saying, “Hey C.C., we’ve got this great video on how to start running that might help. Let us know if you need more details,” it would have been just as helpful.

The key fact here is the timely nature of your content. You’re no longer allowed to be asleep at the wheel or coasting through support queries. We live in a 24-hour world these days, and you never know where your next customer is going to come from. If you’re not spending at least one hour every day listening and reacting, you are missing out on business.

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C.C. Chapman is the co-author (with Ann Handley) of Content Rules, a book that explains how companies can create remarkable blogs, podcasts, webinars, ebooks and more. C.C. is a leader in the online and social media marketing space; he speaks about building passionate consumer communities, and the strategic values of content-based marketing. C.C. can be reached by email at cc.chapman@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter (@cc_chapman).

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Gazing into the crystal ball

Emma staffers predict email marketing trends

If you’re trying to keep up with the latest email-related app or social platform, you probably find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed. And you may wonder how to make the best use of your time and energy

I know the feeling. As I try to stay on top of email trends, I find myself wondering, What’s next for email? And how can I keep up?

From email personalization and audience segmentation to cross-channel messaging and social marketing, there are lots of possibilities to pair with online media’s cash cow. (Email’s ROI hovers around $40 for every $1 spent, by the way.)

I challenged five Emma staffers to hop into a time machine (fashioned from a few cardboard boxes, lamp wiring and Hubba Bubba’s Bubble Tape) set to a year from now, and tell me what they believe the hot email trends will have been. Let’s see what they have to say …

Suzanna Best, Sales

Suzanna: I’m pinning my email predictions on Pinterest. With email’s mastery of social integration, this new craze is an asset worth welcoming into every email campaign. Be it a simple link, a call-to-action button or a custom Pinterest icon permanently embedded in your email design — the pinboard social network is a must in terms of connecting with your email audience.

There’s already a wealth of tech-savvy artists and craftsmen utilizing the down-the-rabbit-hole platform to generate interest in new products and projects. And with the launch of Pinerly, a comprehensive analytics tool, even the more traditional internet denizens will be jumping on the pin-wagon to strengthen their online presence. Email, pin and watch your efforts go viral.

Jimmy Thorn, User Experience

Jimmy: I think the biggest trend that we need to pay attention to is actually less of a trend and more of a revolution on how we view content. There has been a huge surge in the mobile realm, and the idea of “mobile first” is really starting to sink in.

This applies specifically to us (and to Emma customers) because it’s easy to check email from your phone. If we don’t cater to the mobile market, we’re missing the opportunity to meet our clients and their constituencies where they are — and that’s really the most important thing in regards to sharing content.

Carolyn Kopprasch, Agency Relations

Carolyn: Over the past few years, emails have gotten longer and more crowded — this sense of more and more content. However, we seem to be at a (welcome) tipping point, as content creators and curators realize that more isn’t necessarily better; it takes a lot more time and it makes readers’ eyes glaze over. Know the feeling?

This will be the year that content marketing reaches maturity. Developing blog posts, whitepapers and other thought leadership has become a huge focus of B2B and B2C companies, and for good reason. Handing out free knowledge builds a company’s credibility, reach and even search results. But, with the explosion of content, we have started to drown in it.

We’ll see the craze to create content become a lot more focused. Blog posts, email newsletters and (hopefully) even tweets will get less frequent, but more focused. As companies continue to demonstrate expertise, we’ll churn out fewer articles, but the ones that make it to the presses will be richer and more valuable.

Art Quanstrom, Delivery

Art: For email deliverability trends this year, I would say that people will look back and say, “I’m glad I started segmenting my audience by engagement: removing people that don’t respond, rewarding my most loyal readers and giving people options regarding how often I send to them.” I risk sounding like a broken record, but as far as improving and maintaining great email response, it’s the most important thing a sender can do with their opt-in, permission-based list.

Grey: The trend we will have likely seen is one where our friend email has found renewed energy by hanging out more with its younger cousins in social media.

Grey Garner, Market Strategist

Email realizes that it doesn’t have to carry the engagement load like it once did and, honestly, is a lot happier being the stable, reliable and trusted channel for delivering all kinds of messages, large and small. It feels more personal than ever because it stays connected to other sites and information sources automatically; email sometimes even creates and sends itself. How liberating!

Personification aside, the point I’m trying to make is that email is evolving alongside every other marketing and communications channel and will continue to have tremendous value because it does certain things better than any other medium. Consumers value the relevance of a message, not the delivery channel; the challenge for marketers will be first learning what their members value, and then leaning on technology like Emma to get it delivered down the right pipe.

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There you have it, folks. If you’re looking to implement similar thoughts or tactics into your own email marketing plan, please give us a ring — we’d be more than happy to talk shop with you.

Do you have your own email predictions to share? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below!

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From us to you: A sneak peek of our free, readymade templates

A whole new way to get handcrafted Emma design

What do you get when a company known for custom design turns its attention to readymade templates? You get campaign templates with all the love and care of custom design, of course.

That’s what’s coming in our Template Gallery, and we couldn’t help but share a small sampling of the brand new email template designs you’ll have access to in a few weeks.

We’ve always believed in making great design accessible to everyone, and these templates represent a tremendous step toward fully realizing that vision.

If you’re an Emma customer, the gallery will allow you to instantly add templates to your account and customize most of them on the fly with your own brand colors and logo. (Of course, custom design will still be available with even more personalized service.)

They’ll all look great and deliver beautifully to all popular email inboxes. But that’s not all. Every template has a built-in, coordinated suite of styles for text, links and captions. And each comes with three variations in design and content styling, so you get an entire collection for newsletters, postcards and memos.

And of course, these templates work with our new drag & drop content editing system and new image editor, both of which are currently being tested by a smaller group of Emma customers and will be rolled out to everybody in a few weeks.

Together, it’s an entirely new kind of thinking about email design, and it’s all, ahem, designed to make sure your email looks great from top to bottom — and gets great results, too.

Oh, and did we mention that it’s all free for Emma customers? Take a look at some gorgeous examples.

Old Havana gives vintage texture a tropical twist. Make it yours by editing the header with your company name and tagline.

Reminiscent of old world adventure, Cartographers Society features an editable headline and tagline.

Minimal and natural, Inverness lets you change the banner and footer color to support your own branding. Of course, you can change the title, too.

Pacific Heights, with its clean lines and fresh look, gives you space to add quick links and a note to readers above the first featured article.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing even more sneak peeks of our Template Gallery, and we’ll let you know when they’re available in your Emma account. If you have any questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

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