Responsive design for email marketing: Q&A

More on mobile-optimized emails from Emma's experts

A couple weeks ago, you heard right from the horses’ mouths the case made for mobile optimization when it comes to designing emails.

Those horses are back (don’t they ever stay in their pen?) with more about optimizing your content’s display for whatever device your audience is using to consume it.

Rather than design a specific version for tablets, smartphones, etc. that might overlook certain types of tablet or web users with different monitors and resolutions, responsive design allows you to customize your work in a way that regardless the way you view the content, it’s going to look right – or left, depending on the flow of traffic.

Now for the lightning round, with UX Designer Cale Mooth and Senior Product Owner David Wright:

What goes into changing one of Emma’s templates for mobile?

Cale Mooth: For our templates in particular, it’s going through and looking at the widths of the template, going from a fixed width to a more fluid width, something that’s going to expand to whatever environment that template is now in on the mobile site.







David Wright: If you’ve got a one-column layout, there isn’t a whole lot of extra attention you need to take. When you think about multiple columns, I guess general considerations would be we’re assuming that the left column is the primary column. The content that gets fed into that primary column is going to show up first. There are other things you can do like putting in jump links, a table of contents and summarizing the mailing with some content up top.


Who benefits from mobile optimization?

Wright: When content’s formatted for the device that people need to use it on, it’s a win. All of our customers would benefit. Continue that user path completely on a phone or completely on a tablet without having to get halfway through the version they’re looking for. I think mobile is not going away. We thought it was important to optimize our gallery templates, which are available to any one of our customers.


I don’t have an iPhone. How do I know how iPhone users are seeing my emails?

Mooth: Actually send the email and look at it in the webview link. That way, you can shrink the browser down really small to kind of simulate what it will look like on the phone. In our case, our emails will, if you’re on a desktop machine, the email will look one way, and then on a smaller device like a phone, it’s going to look a little different. The idea is that both versions of the email will be adaptive to that particular device.

Wright: With mobile in general, if you think about how someone interacts with their mobile phone, they’re using it for quick tasks, at-a-glance information, social media – That is a little bit different than the task focused when I’m at my computer and sitting down to purchase something on Amazon. When designing for mobile, there’s more emphasis on that leading image and a quick call to action.


Besides using an optimized Emma template, what else should I be doing?

Wright: My recommendation would be to think mobile first in terms of trying to create that conversion. Subject line is important, so split testing comes into play there. As more and more customers are going to be interacting on mobile anyway, a super-long email is extra prohibitive. I would think a quick call to action in any case is important. If you think about the customer who’s going to be magnifying to view it, taking them to a mobile optimized experience if possible, a call to action would be a second-best option.


Find a mobile-optimized template in our design collections

Emma customers can look for the "mobile-ready" label on templates in the drag & drop editor.

Not yet a customer? Try Emma for free.

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3 tips on choosing a great image for your email campaign

How to find the right stock images to support your marketing message

From Bigstock: New message

No matter how often you speak to customers through regular emails, selecting a template that succinctly conveys the message of your brand is a must.

To really entice someone to click through from their email to your website, you'll need a format and layout that not only engages customers, but makes them want to see more. Many businesses leave space for a big image either at the top or in the middle of their emails to break up text and keep people happy. 

But choosing just the right image for your newsletter, depending on both the context and the content, can be difficult. Here are three tips to keep in mind the next time you're looking to add imagery to your email marketing:

1. Reinforce the message

From Bigstock: On target

The most important thing to remember is that everything in your emails must ultimately come back to the purpose of the email. Images that don't directly serve or illustrate that purpose will be perceived as out of place and distracting.

No matter what message you're trying to communicate – whether offering an update, promoting a deal, or doing a survey – the images you use should support it. For instance, if you're trying to get word out about a limited-time promotion, make sure that the pictures accompanying it deliver a sense of urgency.

Perform a sample test on yourself or your colleagues when picking your photo and think about the particular call to action. What are the emotions behind it, and what type of picture would push you in that direction? Then trust in yourself as a sample subscriber.

2. Keep things cool

From Bigstock: Abstract dots

One mistake businesses sometimes make is giving the image too much attention. Treat images as if they're in a supporting role, appealing to the more photo-oriented minds in your community, but within reason.

If you use bold colors, it says something, likely more than you intend. Keep it subtle and attractive. At times you may want to include photos of recognizable objects that draw the eye, but in other cases a pattern might do just the trick.

It's something to look at, but it doesn't pull you away from the key message at hand. You want people to walk away more informed or excited about an opportunity. If the image speaks too loudly, you won't reach the viewer where it matters most.

3. Be subtle

From Bigstock: Elementary playground

With so many images available, it can be difficult to select just one. The best advice when making your picks is to err of the conservative side; don't take any chances or else you might rub someone the wrong way. Give them something familiar, but also dynamic.

Suppose, for example, your company is launching a new feature and you want to invite your community to come check it out. You might want to include a general business photo to appear in the middle of the announcement.

By selecting an image that represents the opportunity for growth, progress, and success, you'll pull everything together and leave a good impression. 

And to start brainstorming on the types of images you'd like to use, check out Shutterstock and Bigstock's image trend report!

Today's guest post is written by Danny Groner, manager of blogger partnerships & outreach for Shutterstock and Bigstock.

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Emma customers get 5 stock images on us through March 31. Not yet a customer? Try Emma free.

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Responsive design for email marketing, part one

Making emails mobile-friendly, one template at a time

Emma’s a strategic gal. When the time is right to release a new product, there’s much thought that goes into what the story is that we want to tell our customers. That story – ranging from the latest Zadie Smith to Are You My Mother? – is inspired by our own habits as well as what we’re gleaning from you.

Toward the end of last year, Mashable called 2013 "the year of responsive design." Their article speaks largely about web design, but if you’re anything like us, you wear glasses while consuming emails on a variety of platforms, too: smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktops.

That’s why it’s important to optimize your email campaigns so that they look their best and brightest, no matter the stage.

What responsive design means at Emma

Our product developers and designers have been thinking about mobile-optimized email design for a while now. And with the release of our new drag & drop editor and new template language to go along with it, Emma is poised for responsive design in the inbox. Wherever that inbox may be. 

So, how do we go from being poised for responsive design to actually achieving responsive design? We experiment with our own email newsletter, of course. 

We coded our last email newsletter to change format when viewed on a mobile device.

Emma UX designer Cale Mooth – who’s done the actual template work, coding, CSS, HTML retrofitting, whozywhatsit to optimize our own email and some of the templates in our readymade design collections – said adaptive emails improve your recipients’ experience.

“Looking at something on a small device versus a desktop or laptop, it’s a totally different experience,” he said. “So if you can cater to those specific devices, I think it’s just one more chance for users to identify with the content you’re putting out there, react with it, interact with it.”

So what is mobile optimization, and should you be scared? It means that your email design responds and adapts to the device your recipients are using to experience it. And yes, of course you should be scared: Haven’t you noticed the uptick in zombie TV shows and movies?

According to eMarketer, the average American adult spent almost an hour and a half a day last year on their mobile busy with non-phone activity – That’s twice what it was in 2010 and a 50 percent increase from 2011.

“There’s been a big trend just in overall website design, not so much apps, just as far as conveying messaging to let that content be optimized,” said David Wright, a senior product owner at Emma who has researched trends in the market. “With the trend of more and more email being read and interacted with on a mobile phone, you’re not tethered to a computer anymore or tethered to a big screen.”

Are you ready to optimize your emails for mobile?

Emma customers can access mobile-ready templates in our collection of free readymade email templates. Our design team is working on optimizing each free design, but for now you can spot the mobile-ready ones at a glance. 

Stay tuned for next week's conclusion of Emma's Responsive Email Design: Zombie Slayer

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Read more about making smart email design decisions in our Brainiac Guide to Images in Email

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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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Whip up a sweet Valentine’s Day email in minutes

It's a love connection: Free Valentine-themed templates + built-in stock images

Love is in the air and in your Emma account, thanks to a new collection of free Valentine-themed email templates. 

These are just some of the designs available in your account. Log in to see them all!

Our designers have handcrafted new templates for events, promotions, newsletters, and of course, love notes. I bet these new designs have your heart fluttering and your marketing wheels turning.

Thinking about using a Valentine template for an impromptu email campaign, but don't have a lot of time? 

No problem! It's a cinch to whip up a sweet email when you have access to 12 million stock images, right inside your account.

Yep, customers using our new drag & drop editor can search for and purchase stock photos, illustrations and vectors (from our partner Bigstock) to drop right in their email campaigns.

And a big, bold image is the perfect way to capture the attention of your audience and get your message across quickly. 

Watch us create our own Valentine email in just 83 seconds, then log in and craft one of your own. 

And share the love with us! Show us your Valentine email on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Not an Emma customer? See all our Valentine's Day templates here and open a free trial account.

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A peek at our DIY email retrospective

We started fresh in 2013 with a look back at what worked well for us in 2012

With the launch of Emma's shiny new API and drag & drop editor this past June, we had a lot of news to share in the second half of 2012. 

The emails we sent customers in the last six months showed off our new & improved editor, announced new features, and spotlighted an ever-evolving collection of free readymade email templates

And even though we eagerly watched the opens and clicks tally with each send-off, I saw an opportunity to start the new year off with a look at all the emails in one place.

There's nothing complicated or high tech about this exercise, unless you count not being certain about which office printer I sent my files to. It just takes wall space, Post-its, and a few brains to make sense of it all. 

I made a timeline of emails sent over the last six months, adjusted each one's height on the wall according to the open rate, wrote out each subject line, labeled key metrics and trends, and – here's the important part – pulled together a small group of Emma staffers to soak it all in and make some insights.

We took note of what jumped out to us:

And then we let that shape our conversation about the kinds of emails we want to send in the coming months. 

Did you do an email retrospective? What did you learn, and how many Post-its did you use?

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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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What we’re reading now

A roundup of articles for small busness owners and Emma Agencies

If you’re anything like me, then your day consists of asking yourself this question countless times as you scroll through your Twitter app, Facebook feed, Flipboard and RSS reader: Is reading this article going to be worth my time?

Content marketing has afforded us more free resources, case studies and education than we could possibly have time for. In this roundup, I’m cutting through the noise and sharing some of my favorite recent reads.

Part one: for the small business owner

Part two: for the agency owner who's managing multiple client accounts

I’ll be back next month with more articles worth reading, tweeting and bookmarking. And please share your favorite reads with me in the comments section below.

Become an Emma Agency: stylish email marketing for you and your clients.

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