Autoresponders, holiday templates and drag & drop editor enhancements

Our product development teams have been busy as ever as we head into the holiday season: We recently released a major fix to our autoresponder system, a whole collection of (free!) seasonal template designs and a ton of exciting enhancements to our drag & drop editor.

Reliable autoresponders for new subscribers

At Emma, we've always worked to make it easy — and dare we say fun — to grow and engage your list: You can drive point-of-sale signups with our free iPad app, Emma Guestbook; you can welcome new subscribers with a free Welcome Collection template; and you can automate those welcome emails with autoresponders triggered by new signups, so you can engage your brand-new readers without ever lifting a finger.

One of our development teams took a deep dive into autoresponders last month, because some customers reported that their automated messages weren't firing reliably. We found some instances where the trigger event was attempting to fire just before the new subscriber actually popped up in the account — and so, in those cases, the autoresponder didn't know where to go, and the trigger would quietly fail.

That issue is resolved thanks to our trusty API team, so autoresponders are now delivering consistently again. Why not celebrate by creating your own?

How to create a signup trigger event »

How our free iPad app can help grow your list »

 

Template Gallery update: Free winter & holiday designs

Our Template Gallery now features a set of festive holiday and seasonal designs created by our world-class design team.

These gorgeous templates are easy to save to your account and absolutely free to use — and they're a beautiful, no-hassle way for your brand to share your season's greetings or holiday promotions.

Check out the Winter Collection »

Enter your mailing into our fall/winter template contest »

 

'View' sent mailings without creating new copies

On the Campaigns page, drag & drop editor mailings appear in one of three tabs: still-in-progress "Draft" mailings, soon-to-be-delivered "Scheduled” mailings, or already-delivered "Sent" mailings.

Customers often click on Sent mailings to create and edit new copies of something they've previously sent — but, as one Community user asked, what if you're simply wanting to take a look? In that scenario, you don't need to launch the editor, and you certainly don't need add more copies to your Drafts tab.

Each mailing under the Sent tab now has its own "View" button, which opens a web-based preview of that mailing in a separate browser tab without creating a new copy in the editor.

Different confirmation for *scheduled* mailings

This was a small change, but one we're excited about: When users schedule mailings, they're now seeing a different confirmation message ("Your mailing has been scheduled") than users who set up their mailings to send immediately ("Your mailing will soon be on its way").

We're hoping the alternate language will be a little clearer for the folks who like to get their mailings set up ahead of time — and thanks to the customers who suggested this tweak!

How to schedule a mailing to go out at a later time or date »

 

Spellcheck changes (also known as "The Manuary Ticket")

An Emma customer recently posted in our Community asking that we expand our spellcheck library because the editor had suggested changing January to manuary — which, as it turns out, is an archaic synonym of manual. The more you know, you guys.

In any case, we've now expanded our spellcheck feature so it won't try to "correct" common proper nouns like the months of the year, days of the week, major cities, states, countries, and the most popular first and last names according to census data. We've also included common contractions like "can't" and "we'll."

Learn about spellcheck and other toolbar features »

 

Bug fixes

  • The apostrophe character in the normal editing view was changing to its HTML equivalent in plain text view. This bug has been fixed, so apostrophes are now appearing as normal apostrophes in both HTML and plain text views.
  • A very specific, very unusual bug was cropping up for users who copied content from an outside source, then highlighted all the text in a text box with command+A, then immediately replaced all the highlighted text with their copied content by hitting command+V. That exact sequence of steps was removing the <p> tags from the text box content, which inhibited users' ability to then format the pasted text. This bug is resolved.
  • On the Response page, the calculations for click trends over time were slightly off from the calculations for a single mailing's click activity. We have fixed this issue, so the calculations now match (and are accurate in both places).
  • Some users were encountering a thumbnail issue when sharing campaigns to Facebook, but this has been corrected.

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Grow your email list from 1K to 5K in three months

Wholesome advice for turning your subscribers into your biggest fans

Editor's note: This post was originally published as a guest post on Advertising Week Social Explorer.

If I learned anything from The Wonder Years, it’s that having friends on your side makes dealing with girls and bullies easier. When it comes to growing your email list, those same buddies who put up their fists for you in the schoolyard can do wonders (har har) for generating buzz and taking your audience places that you couldn’t travel to on your own – like a Colorado ski lodge.

What's in it for me? 

Make them an offer they can’t refuse if they bring a friend on board. Reward those “power sharers” with coupons, access to special content and that lovely little rumor that Becky’s friend Hannah’s sister’s boyfriend told Becky.

Lunchroom gossip isn't all bad.

Create calls to action for current members to share with their social platforms. Make use of social media platforms for recipients to easily find you and/or spread the word and/or tell your parents that you’re at the library when you’re really…well, you know.

Let's hang out after class.

Interact with your customers – and come from a place of yes. Post questions on Twitter, respond to inquiries, monitor hashtags, agree to write guest blog posts, RSVP to speak at an event and participate in neighborhood block parties when there’s free food involved.

Make sound decisions, son.

Invest in ad space where your potential customers frequent. Is that Facebook? A car repair shop? The Chamber of Commerce? Advancing your audience converts the coins in the jar from copper to silver-colored.

Don't forget the formative years.

Nothing turns me off faster than the wrong their, they’re or there being used. Write coherently and passionately, engaging customers with your message rather than distracting with the incorrect version of its. Why should they have faith in you if you flunked elementary school?

Show, don't tell.

If you manage a food blog, then I want to see the steaming gourmet burger in my Inbox as I stumble over myself to click for the recipe. I want to share the recipe with my mom – who will recommend that my grandpa make it for our next picnic. You may have just gotten two new subscribers from me – all with a picture of a burger.

What a delicious life of wonder.

Need an email marketing provider? Try Emma for free.

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5 questions with Christy Farr of Seeds & Weeds Coaching

How email marketing gave her small business a boost at just the right time

Christy Farr shares her story with us.

I talk to customers every day who run their own businesses and rely on Emma to share their story and connect with their customers. I recently had the opportunity to connect with Christy Farr, a life coach here in Nashville, and I learned how she used Emma to take her one-woman company, Seeds & Weeds Coaching, from maintenance mode into a period of high growth.

With a little planning and a lot of heart, Christy created a community of clients with a 30-day Sick of Being Stuck email series and breathed new life into her own business. Read on to hear Christy's story, in her own words.

1. Tell us a little bit about a day-in-the-life of a life coach.

My day is an ever-evolving balance between empowering others and managing "the business" of empowering others. Every day starts with writing – blogs, class materials and newsletters – then it's to the phone for coaching sessions with clients, group coaching with students or a book study. Throw in networking over vegetarian Indian food; collaborating with other coaches, healers and teachers on new projects; and looking for more powerful ways to serve my community, and you can piece together any given day in my world.

2. How has Emma helped you grow?

Emma helps me grow by meeting me wherever I am, no matter what. And every single time I get stuck, Emma has what I need to keep moving forward. When I needed to maintain my contact list and mail a monthly newsletter (aka, lick my wounds from the violent experience I accidentally had with the dark side of virtual marketing for life coaches ... only a touch of exaggeration here), Emma was there. And believe it or not, last summer when I faced the possibility of closing Seeds & Weeds Coaching (essentially for lack of engagement from the community I was trying to serve), it was Emma that helped me bring the business back to life.

I know how that sounds, but it's actually true. After two and a half years, the business still wasn't sustainable. Even more disheartening than the poverty (literally), was knowing that I wasn't doing what I was born to do. If I was reaching "enough" people, I'd be making "enough" money. If working for someone else could could solve both of those problems, it was time to consider the possibility. The decision felt impossible, and every time I would meditate or write or talk about it with someone else, I heard the same lesson in my head again and again. Maddeningly, it's something I always use to cultivate ideas in other people: You already have everything you need to take the next perfect step in this journey.

Rather begrudgingly, I agreed, "Fine, I have everything I need." A quick inventory revealed that I had only three things I could use to give this business one more chance: Me, Emma and the idea that when any of the gardens of our lives are unwell – body, relationships, money, creativity, spirituality, etc. – we can radically transform the situation by releasing that which no longer serves us from our physical environment. That was all I had, so I went for it, and "Sick of Being Stuck September" (SOBSS) changed, well, everything.

3. Creating a 30-day email series requires a lot of planning and content. What's your secret to success?

The program included daily clutter-clearing challenges, articles, group calls and community support, and I managed the entire thing through Emma. Now, I wish I could tell you that it was premeditated and smooth, but that would be a lie. This was, after all, my Hail Mary pass, and it took everything in me to get those emails crafted and sent every day with everything else that SOBSS stirred up.

There were times that I was writing emails at 1 a.m., climbing up the stairs and crashing for a few hours before I was up again getting the children off to school. Toward the end of the month, some of them were even written the morning they went out. It wasn't pretty, but it worked. Six hundred people signed up for that program, more than doubling the size of my newsletter list. And when I say everything changed, I mean the "now I have coaching clients, a monthly class with students actually paying to come, and the book is on the editor's desk" kind of everything changed.

I suppose that the secret to my success really boils down to integrity. I did everything in my power to keep promises that I made to myself (pursuing my dream), my family and the wild and wonderful people who said and continue to say yes to the Sick of Being Stuck invitation (crafting and sending the emails). To be clear, it's not perfect, but it's my best, and my students can affirm that my perfectly imperfect is enough to rock their collective worlds.

4. Where do you draw inspiration?

That one is easy. I'm inspired by what's not working. I believe that our struggles and challenges are a direct result of living out of alignment with the truth of who we are as individuals. The coaching, writing and teaching allow me to address the needs that my clients, readers and students bring to the table. When something stinks, they bring it to Seeds & Weeds, and we work together to craft a new way of being for them, a shift into thoughts and actions that will cultivate better results. I've found that when we are willing to accept lessons from the natural world, our lives can begin to bloom.

5. You can invite any four people to happy hour. Who'd be there?

Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Anne Lamott, Dolly Parton and Ellen DeGeneres.

Learn more about Seeds & Weeds Coaching >>

Sign up for Christy's newsletter >>

New to Emma? Try us for free.

Leave a comment »


Growing your email audience

A primer to start building your email list easily and effectively

 

Signup Form
Taco Mamacita wisely mixes required and optional fields in their signup form.
When I was a kid, I was cursed with the summer birthday blues. When my July birthday hit, I'd be ready to celebrate, but since I didn't have a classroom to share the news (or the cupcakes) with, I didn't get any of the attention that's lavished on those lucky enough to be born during the school-year months.

 

It's a frustrating feeling to have a great announcement to make, but no audience to hear it — just ask any business owner who's just beginning to build their email audience list. Your news may be more about software updates or new product lines than cupcakes, but the challenge remains: If the classroom doesn't come to you, how do you find the right folks to share in your celebration?

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to find the right audience members and play well with Emma's permission policy, too. With a little advance planning, you'll set yourself up to share your brand with the right folks — and engage them from the start.

If you're new to email marketing and not sure how to attract subscribers, follow these tips to get your program up and running:

  1. Create a strong signup form. Your signup form is the perfect place to gather all the subscriber information you need to know. Make a clear distinction between what you must have (mark it as required) and what can be shared at your subscribers' discretion. You might need to know their zip codes to send them accurate info about a store in their area, but you don't need to send birthday coupons to everyone — just the folks who choose to fill in their date of birth. Remember, subscribers may abandon your form if they feel that the process is too long or intrusive. Also, let your subscribers know what to expect as a new member of your list. Will you be sending daily, weekly, monthly or on some other schedule? Will they see promotions along with newsletters? Can they pick and choose the news types they want to receive?
  2. Identify all of your customer touch-points, and get used to asking folks to join your email list. Think beyond your website for a moment. Does your company send transactional emails? Do you tweet? Have a Facebook page? You'll reach the biggest audience by making your email signup forms as visible as possible in as many places as possible, so identify your points of contact. And think beyond your online presence. Put a fishbowl near your store's register so customers can sign up by dropping in their business cards. Encourage your sales team to bring up your newsletter in their daily calls or demo classes. Even include a link to your signup form in your own email signature. Every interaction is an opportunity to build a relationship.
  3. Create a welcome trigger. Catch your subscribers when their curiosity is piqued: right when they sign up. Your automatic welcome emails can net four times the normal open rate and five times the normal click-through rate. A welcome email is the perfect time to reinforce the benefits of your newsletter, give subscribers a discount on their next purchase or simply thank them for signing up.
  4. Ask subscribers to share your emails with their networks. Then, provide unique and entertaining content so they can't help but do so. Incentivize the share, too. Reward those who share with a special coupon or unique content from your brand. That's a built-in loyalty program!

Give a little thought (and a lot more action) to these four tips, and you'll be growing your email list in no time.

This is part one in our blog series on audience growth. In our next installment, we'll talk about more ways to maintain a healthy, engaged list.

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