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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How to achieve brainiac status when it comes to your email’s images

Read our five tips now, and follow the blog for more details all March long

5 tips to make your email's images stand out

Did you know…

What's all that mean? It's a good time to brush up on your image smarts, which is why we've just published our Brainiac Guide to Images in Email. You'll find five practical tips for making the most of your images with visuals (of course!) that help make the point.

But wait, there's more: all month long on the blog, we'll be going into more detail about leveraging the power of images in your email newsletters. We'll share real-world examples, expert interviews and videos. Check back often or, hey, just subscribe here or follow us on Twitter for the latest.

Also during the month of March, Emma customers can get 5 stock images on us. It's to celebrate the brand-new Emma integration with Bigstock that makes about 12 million stock images searchable right from your account -- and makes it easy to always add the all-important image to your next email campaign.
 

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Add style to your emails with stock images (they’re on us)

Emma customers get five images from Bigstock now through March 31, 2013

If you haven't peeked in Bigstock's library of over 12 million images that you can use in your email campaigns, you're missing out. 

Maybe you were waiting for us to sweeten the deal? Alright, alright.

Yup, that's right. Now through March 31, 2013, you can purchase up to five stock images right from your Emma account, and we'll take care of the cost. 

 

How it works

To claim the offer *and* find the perfect images for your next mailing (or the one after that – there's no pressure to use 'em right away), simply follow these steps:

  1.  Log in and head to Campaigns
  2. Click create a new mailing in the drag & drop editor. (If you've been with Emma for a while, this is the "Your mailings: beta" editor that's in the second section of the page.)
  3. Click any image placeholder and in the window that appears, navigate to the stock images tab to start searching by keyword or phrase.
  4. When you find an image you like, purchase it, and we'll remove the cost from your next invoice.
  5. Repeat up to four more times by March 31, 2013 to take advantage of this stock image giveaway.

 

How to edit images

Remember that Bigstock has more than just photos in its library; you can also find illustrations and vector sheets to add visual appeal to your emails. That means you may want to crop just the part you want or edit an image before using it in your mailing.

Emma's new image editor, which is powered by Aviary, lets you crop, add filters and more. This video walks you through the steps:

So what are you waiting for? Log in now to get started. 

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Want more tips for using Bigstock and Aviary? You'll find 'em in our resource center

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New (and free!) football themed email templates are here

Customize 'em with built-in color swatches for your favorite team

Hosting a gathering for the big game this weekend? Why not use a free football themed template to send your invitation? They're free, and we just added them to every Emma account. 

These templates come with built-in color swatches for the Ravens and 49ers, so no matter who you're cheering for on February 3rd, you can customize your email's design in just a couple clicks.

You can also find just the perfect shade of green to match your spinach artichoke dip. (That's who I'll be cheering for.)

We used Vine to show off how easy it is to switch out the colors on these fun new designs, so take a peek and then log in and head to the Winter Collection in our new drag & drop editor to see them for yourself.

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Yes, you can create a last-minute email

Readymade templates for Thanksgiving greetings and retail promotions make it possible

It’s not too late to send a Thanksgiving greeting or Black Friday promotion, friends! 

Since releasing our free fall templates to the Emma community last month, customers have been ever-so-kind to share their gorgeous fall emails with us on Facebook and Twitter. We love seeing these fall designs in action! 

There’s still time to get in the game: The fall holiday collection in Emma’s template gallery holds readymade designs for a short and sweet Thanksgiving greeting or an invitation to watch college football rivals take the field.

And if you’re thinking about a last-minute Black Friday or Cyber Monday promotion to help boost winter sales, look no further. 

Add a few images and to these templates and let your customers know how to score some deals this week.

Trust us: It's worth it to take a few minutes to create a fall email today, and when you do, be sure to share them with us on Facebook and Twitter

Haven't tried Emma's new editor and readymade templates? 

For customers who are used to Emma's classic editor and haven't tried our all-new beta editor, this is a perfect time to get in there and start using drag & drop layouts, background colors and built-in access to images from Facebook, Flickr and Bigstock.

To find the fall readymade templates just log in and head to Campaigns. Scroll down the page to find the beta editor, and click Create a new mailing in that section of the page.

On the page that loads, scroll to Emma's Design Collections and click the thumbnail for fall holiday designs.

Find all the how-tos for our new editor in the resource center, and reach out to us if you need a hand. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Emma! 

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What you see is (now really) what you get

We've changed how unused image and text placeholders behave in the inbox

If you've used Emma's new editor, you've probably noticed a few improvements (mostly in the form of streamlined workflow and fancy features) that help you create the most stylish emails around.

Now comes another change designed to make it easier to know what's really going to get delivered to your recipients: Default text and image placeholders will actually display in the inbox. 

Yep, the placeholders for text and images now appear in the actual email

When you send an email that looks like this, where the placeholders haven't been deleted or replaced with your real text and images:

It will render just like that in the inbox. In the past, those unused areas disappeared from view upon previewing and sending.

But now, you get a built-in preview experience as you go, and the inbox version of your email is true to the layout you built in your account.

Why we like it

When we set out to build a new editing experience for our customers, we aimed to cut down on the number of steps it took to get you from creating to sending. That means providing a sense of the email's look before the content comes together.

The placeholders and lorem ipsum text do just that, and by allowing them to render in the inbox, we're finally able to provide a "what you see is what you get" experience. 

As the Emma staffer who sends newsletters and announcements to our own community, I appreciate being able to send a test email with the placeholders intact for the stories I'm still working on.

Even if all my email's content isn't finalized, my colleagues can get a feel for my layout choices, spot how the text will wrap around images and see where I've enabled captions. 

What it means for you

Ultimately, this change adds up to more creative control for our customers.

When I worked in customer support, I found myself constantly reassuring customers using the old editor that they could ignore unused image and text boxes because Emma wouldn't send them.

But you know what? It's a lot to ask customers to imagine those placeholders aren't there. With Emma's new editor, you're in control, and it's easy to delete the content areas you don't need and just know that what you see on the screen is what's going to send.

Besides, I much prefer to free up customers' imaginations to dream up the most compelling headline copy, the most eye-catching images and the most irresistible subject lines. 

So save your creative thinking for the important stuff. 

Want to learn more about our new editor?

Read 8 ways it can take your email from good to great in our resource center.

 

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How an email marketing company got it wrong (but still got it right)

A surprising lesson from our very first send-off using Emma's new A/B/C split test feature

Editor's note: Scroll to the bottom of this post to request early access to Emma's new split testing feature.

A couple weeks ago, we tested out Emma's new subject line split test feature with a mailing to customers about fall holiday designs, and we learned just how hard it is to predict the behavior of our email audience.

There. I said it. We're an email marketing company – subject line experts, some may say – and we were surprised by the results of our first official subject line split test.

Here's how it went down. We started by coming up with a list of subject line candidates. After jotting down whatever came to mind, we reviewed our list and pointed out the distinguishing characteristics of each. Some were short and punchy, some long and explanatory, some teased a video, some used the word "free" or mentioned Emma by name.

The coolest part? We didn't have to pick just two subject lines to test -- Emma's split test feature lets you test a third variation, so it's a-ok to stick a wildcard in there and see what happens. Here were our picks:

Variation A: Emma's fall templates are free and ready in your account

Variation B: Free fall templates + a video of how we made the email you're about to open

Variation C: Fall design is here: free templates + affordable custom design

If we didn't have the option to split test, we would've sent Variation B to everyone. It's a little longer than your average subject line, and previous subject line tests (we've done a few over the years, but without the use of this handy feature) have indicated that our audience responds well to subjects packed with details. Plus, it mentions video, which we figured would entice recipients to open and click.

As soon as the split test was launched, Emma staffers postulated which subject line would perform best. We huddled around the whiteboard casting our votes on Post-Its and analyzing words and punctuation with unbridled scrutiny.

The result? Well, we segmented our audience into two groups, customer contacts and non-customer subscribers to our emails, and we ended up with two winning subject lines:

Customers preferred Variation A: Emma's fall templates are free and ready in your account.

Our broader email community preferred Variation C: Fall design is here: free templates + affordable custom design.

So there you have it. Sometimes you don't know your audience as well as you think you do. But isn't it great to have a tool that helps you gain that insight? I sure think so. 

And you sure can have a ton of fun being wrong. 

Can't wait to try split testing your own email marketing campaigns?

We're looking for a few eager folks to try out split testing alongside us. Just email us your username and we'll add this feature to your account right away.

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How to create a great-looking email campaign this fall

Our email subscribers get a peek behind the scenes at how we use Emma. Are you one of them?

Just today, we sent our email subscribers an announcement about free fall email templates that are now available in every Emma account. These seasonal designs are stunning (I feel okay about being boastful because I was in no way involved in their creation) and work alongside our new drag & drop editor.

Since I create our own email newsletters and announcements, I recorded a short screencast of how this email came together.

Recording this video was fun way to introduce Emma customers and fans to the bells and whistles in the new editor and provide a peek at how we approach our own email marketing.

And as someone who uses our editor regularly, I can attest that it makes editing emails less of a chore and more just a fun part of the day. Especially when there's a catchy tune playing in the background.

Are you signed up for our newsletters and announcements? We're sending out some pretty cool stuff these days, so I invite you to subscribe on our website and stay connected to your friends at Emma.

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