Emma's guide to email and fashion shows you how to assemble a smart email ensemble, add features that bring it all together and style a template to suit any brand.See full article
Around the Emma office, designer Elizabeth William is better known by her nickname, Lizard. You've seen her work in your inbox if you receive Emma's Roundups and all over the Emma website (like the imagery in our homepage video). Get to know her a bit better today, as she shares email design wisdom that'll help your messages stand out.
You've designed custom email templates for Emma customers. Templates frame content nicely, but what do you recommend for arranging the body of an email (its text and image fields)?
Great question. It's best to have your content strategy determined before you get to design. Establishing a content hierarchy is so important when making complementary visual hierarchy decisions. Here are some questions to ask yourself about the content that will help to inform the design:
1. How often do you want to send?
Sending often might mean sharing just one or two stories per email. Sending a newsletter-style monthly or quarterly email requires you to give a bit more thought to how all the stories will come together — and how your design elements will support the story.
2. What do your subscribers respond to?
Do they tend to click more on image-based links or text-based links? Do they click on stories at the top of your email, or are their clicks dispersed throughout the email? Are they mostly mobile users? The answers to these questions will determine how you should lay out your content.
3. Is the amount of content you've chosen easily replicable?
For example, if you have four articles each month and you want an image to go with each, do you have access to great imagery that will support each article every time you mail? If not, you may need to rethink what you want to do there, or think about having an in-house designer create images that you can re-use. Or, ask the Emma design team. We love making designs that work for the resources you have access to!
4. How does your brand use imagery, and how can that imagery best support your story via email? Could you utilize custom image-based headings?
Image-based headings really add pop and personality to an email.
5. What's your message hierarchy?
Do you have a featured article each time? Do you have a big image up top that spans the width of your stationery? This will help you determine if you'd like to use a similar story layout each time, or if you'd like to switch it up each month, based on the news at your company.
Other questions to consider: Can you reduce the amount of copy and let some images do the talking? Or better yet, can you create teaser copy that links to the full stories elsewhere? Can you use a sidebar for quick links, ad space or smaller supporting elements (as opposed to primary/secondary items in the content hierarchy)?
I find headlines, subheadings and body text hard to balance visually. When you design a stationery that's meant to employ consistent headline and body copy (like Emma's Agency Insider), how do you find the perfect balance?
A good headline is powerful. It needs to entice the reader, and it should be very distinguishable from the body copy. There aren't really set-in-stone rules for this type of thing since there are many ways to achieve a good balance between headline, subhead and body copy. Here's one test you can do: after you style your copy, scoot back from your computer and make sure the first thing you see in the text is are the headlines. If those are somewhat distinguishable from a distance, you're on the right track. Typically, playing with bold, italics, text-based divider lines (using dashes, forward slashes or Emma's horizontal rule tool) and color will all help to create the right balance, but always remember to self-edit.
Choose two or three styles to make each section distinct and stick with them. Don't oversaturate your text with styling. If you use much more than two fonts, two colors (even accent colors), more than two or three font sizes, it'll look cluttered. And just because I have your attention — no comic sans, please.
I've noticed that most folks stick to a clean sans-serif font, like Helvetica or Verdana. The Uppercase email (below) is a nice exception. Mixing font choices can be tricky, though. What holds this campaign together even though it employs a number of different typeface styles and colors? There's no shame in making daring font selections (well, daring in the realm of web-safe fonts). But you've got to have the design reasoning to back it up. In Uppercase's email (I just love Uppercase, by the way!), they clearly want you to read the text in the serif font [the main article section] first. So they set it apart using a different style of font than the rest of the mailing — and they also bumped up the size a few points to create an obvious hierarchy.
Also, since that particular copy is in letter format, the serif font gives it a more classic, formal feel which is in contrast to their use of a sans-serif in the sidebar for more ad-like copy; they want to get straight to business there. Within that serif text in the main well, they've highlighted what they consider the most important piece of information by changing the color of the type and using bold and italics when appropriate.
I like mixing sans-serif and serif fonts in headline and subhead copy. I typically prefer the headline to be in the serif font and the subhead in a sans (Georgia and Tahoma provide a nice mix), with a very obvious font size difference. Using that mixture lends a classic sophistication to any campaign, but always have your brand top of mind when making that decision.
Oh, one last thought — using a serif font within your sans text for a pull quote is also a cool way to use the mixture and give it a more editorial feel.
In last year's New Year's Resolution design, you chose a striking purple color to highlight several areas, including some of the header text. I'm guessing it's not a coincidence that this is also the shade of Claire's lipstick in the design. But which came first? Did you isolate that color from the photograph? Or did you plan the color scheme, then adjust the photo? Oh, interesting question. The color scheme for the campaign was decided before our photo shoot. I actually played off of our Emma green and used magenta as an accent color to give it a fresh feel since it was all about New Year's Resolutions. We edited the photos accordingly, and then enhanced her lipstick with that purply-pink text color to tie it all together. Photoshop is fun.
Pulling a highlight color from a logo or photograph is a great way to bring the email together visually. But, at least initially, it sounds a little daunting to those of us without design chops. What sorts of tips and tools do you recommend?
Since Emma's email tools are simply an extension of your brand, I think the most daunting part is making the foundational commitment to your brand. That is, choosing brand colors, denoting the primary, secondary and accent usage cases for each, the font styles you want to use, etc. Get together with your team to build a brand style guide, then find the specific color codes for the colors you've selected.
If you're working with an Emma designer, we'd love to help with color selections, and we can provide the proper color codes to input when using Emma's text editor. If you need a free, on-the-fly "color picker" check out Eye Drop for Chrome, or Colorzilla for Firefox. You can identify the HEX code for your color, then input it in the Emma text editor.
I also like free photo editing tools like Skitch, Gimp and Pixlr. With a little practice, they become pretty easy to use.
What is the Emma design team up to now?
We're really busy — and really excited — to be working on a new template gallery for Emma customers. They'll be able to choose from hundreds (literally, hundreds) of free readymade templates, then customize the look of their campaigns with their logo and brand colors. It's a lot of work, and we can't wait to unveil the designs soon.
Emma powers the emails of more than 30,000 businesses, nonprofits and agencies.
Lots of business owners have been turning to daily deal email campaigns to attract new customers lately, and many more are wondering if it's worth a try. To help cut through the hubbub, the Bradford Group teamed with Emma to create a guide of best practices, case studies and strategies for daily deals.
Along the way, we discovered some interesting facts. Here are five things we didn't know about daily deals:
1. Your industry matters
Are you a restaurateur? An interior designer? A ballroom dance instructor? When it comes to daily deals, your industry greatly influences the odds of a successful campaign. A Rice University study found that health services and special events were the most profitable deals for business owners, with 70% of businesses claiming profitability. Restaurants and spas were the least profitable, with 44% of businesses claiming profitability. Ironically, restaurants are also the most highly purchased deal. Go figure.
2. Expect spurts and lulls
The largest surge of daily deal customers typically occurs at the beginning and end of a promotion. A Yipit study found that approximately 25% of coupons are redeemed in both the first and last months of the deal. When determining how long your deal should last, factor these spurts and lulls into your foot traffic estimations. In most cases, a deal with an expiration of three or six months should suffice. A year is too long.
3. 85 is the new 100
Historically, 15-20% of buyers never redeem their coupons, but businesses still receive profits off these sales. So if your business sells 100 deals, look for 80 to 85 to be cashed in. A ForeSee poll found that 62% of these shoppers are potential new, or infrequent customers. With 100 deals sold, your business can expect about 50 new customers walking through the doors.
4. No two deal providers are alike
To differentiate themselves, daily deal providers take either the super store or boutique approach, driving business through either the quantity and reach of their email subscribers or via the importance of location and business niche to their subscribers. Partner with a daily deal site whose business goals are most in line with your own. For example, if your company has a philanthropic vein, you could find a deal provider that will donate a portion of its profits to a non-profit in your company's name. You can also find vertical-focused sites, like Daily Gourmet for foodies.
5. Timing can be tricky
Most daily deal providers have a waiting list — some as long as nine months. On the one hand, this gives you plenty of time to plan your deal; on the other, if you've been putting off running a daily deal until a special event or your next slow time, you might want to consider reaching out to a provider to get a little more information and a realistic timeline.
Ready to plan your first, or next, promotion and looking for more tips? Download our Seize the Daily Deal and get a crash course on planning, launching and profiting from deal-a-day promotions.
Have some daily deal advice of your own? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section below.
Erin Gagnon is an account executive for the Bradford Group, a full-service public relations, advertising and marketing agency based in Nashville. You can reach her by email at ErinGagnon@theBradfordGrp.com, or via Twitter at @ErinDGagnon.
In the past year, we covered everything from fancy-lookin' customer emails to email makeovers to (lots of) mobile design tips. In this roundup, we're sharing the best design-related posts on the Emma blog.
1. Building a slice and dice campaign: Instead of compromising email deliverability with one big image, we taught you how to code an image into smaller slices.
2. Designing emails for smartphones: Guest blogger Anna Yeaman, creative director of Style Campaign, shared her top six mobile design tips.
3. Research, inspiration and doodling: Taylor Schena offered a behind-the-scenes look at her design process.
4. Stylishly formatted email campaigns: We featured five customers with effective content arrangements in their emails.
5. HTML code for email layouts: We gave you access to the code of Emma's content layouts to use and adapt if you're building campaigns with an Upload Your Own HTML template.
6. More mobile tips: Miles Price weighed in with more design tips for crafting emails for mobile devices.
7. An email makeover: We highlighted a refreshed email strategy and brand new look for Rumours Wine & Art Bar in Nashville.
8. Animated GIFs of the future: Cody De Vos paved the way for using animated GIFs in your email campaigns.
For even more design inspiration, see our design showcases.
What design topics would you like to see us feature next? Let us know by commenting here.
I'm back for another stop in our tour of Emma cities, and today I'm highlighting some of our New York City customers. And since it's Valentine's Day, I've added a bit of a romantic twist to my lineup of Big Apple destinations. February 14th means different things to different people — that is, not everyone expects to meet their soulmate at the top of the Empire State Building today — but the magical thing about New York City is that there's enough romance for everyone.
219 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn
Were you that kid in 2nd grade who distributed handmade Valentines while your classmates settled for assembling the boxed variety? Do you gravitate toward great design, appreciate a well-curated shop and just love love? Then you'll want to pop into Catbird this month to get in on the Valentine goodies. Or if you're admiring NYC from afar, visit their website and ogle collections of jewelry, stationery and treasures for the home. Oh, and while you're there, sign up for their emails to get a heads-up about free shipping offers, new products and maybe even a little special surprise on your birthday.
Kiki de Montparnasse
79 Greene Street, Manhattan
If you've moved past conversation hearts and Bee Mine cards (buzz), New York City has got you covered. After all, it's home to Kiki de Montparnasse, which boasts a luxury lingerie line sure to make your Valentine's Day special. Every product in their flagship boutique is ensconced in romance, and their online shop lets you get in on the fun even if a trip to SoHo isn't on your agenda. Kiki de Montparnasse uses Emma to promote new products and invite subscribers to exclusive events.
Daniel Boulud Restaurants
For some, Valentine's Day is all about candlelight, good wine and just about the best meal you could possibly imagine. Look no further than the restaurants of renowned Chef Daniel Boulud. Whether you're catching a quick pre-theater meal at DBGB Kitchen and Bar (try the burger!) or spending the whole evening lingering over a four-course prix fixe menu at Boulud Sud, it'll be a night to remember. Subscribers to Boulud's emails were recently enticed with a sneak peek of the Valentine's Day menus and a link to online reservations. They had me at Chocolate Macadamia Almond Cream Cake …
Brooklyn Public Library
10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn
Building Stories. Go yourself, and you won't only get to be cute and couply with your Valentine, but you'll learn about city architecture and start seeing your surroundings in new ways.
Whole Foods Culinary Center
95 East Houston, Manhattan
Rather than go out for a Valentine's Day meal with all the other couples, surprise your sweetie with a cooking class at Whole Foods Market. The Bowery Culinary Center is offering up a menu of intriguing classes this February — who wouldn't be delighted to attend Beer & Southeast Asian Cuisine or The Winter Herbal Kitchen? The Culinary Center uses smartly placed signup forms to keep website visitors in the know, and their campaigns contain clear calls to action with class registration links.
Maybe you're not in a romantic relationship right now. Maybe you're still going to have the best-ever Valentine's Day, thanks to your best-ever friends. If you're looking for ideas to gather the gals for an outing, consider a group fitness class at Physique 57. In one hour, you'll stretch, strengthen and tone by performing a variety of exercises to energizing music that's always changing to keep things fresh. You might even catch their Love Songs playlist in an upcoming class, which was cleverly promoted in a recent email campaign. It's the kind of exercise experience that always puts a smile on my face and makes me feel a little less guilty about indulging in a Valentine's Day pastry later in the day.
285 West Broadway at Canal, Manhattan
Perhaps a night on the town is in order, too. Why not meet up at Canal Room, a music and event venue that has some pretty irresistible shows on its February calendar. Make plans to dance the night away to your favorite guilty pleasures, courtesy of 80s cover band Rubix Kube. The Back to the Eighties show runs Saturdays in February and March, and it's guaranteed to be one of those dance-in-a-circle-you've-tossed-your-purses-in-the-center-of kind of nights. Canal Room fans learn about upcoming events through regular email updates, and since the email stationery matches the look of the Canal Room website, it's a seamless experience to hop from one to the other.
Emma powers the emails of more than 30,000 businesses, nonprofits and agencies. Try Emma. For free. Inquire now.
Yesterday, I offered tips for turning your email readers into buyers , but those tactics may not do you a ton of good until you've really engaged your audience. Today, we'll look at a few strategies for nurturing your growing audience.
So, take a walk with me down memory lane. When your email marketing strategy was young, you created signup forms to help it grow. As your strategy blossomed, you promoted your email newsletter through social channels and enabled Social Sharing . You kept it in line with a straightforward privacy and permission policy . You even developed a birthday club and segmented your audience by demographics.
Your list is all grown up. What now?
At this stage, I imagine that your email marketing goals are more advanced. You're keen to keep your original fans while attracting a larger crowd, but as you do so, you want to maintain strong delivery rates and engagement. Now's the time to pair your goal of growth with additional measures like effective messaging, relationship building and higher delivery rates.
Here are a few ways to do just that:
+ Segment beyond demographics . Your audience list likely falls into more relevant categories than male/female and north/south. For example, a brand new subscriber may respond better to being treated like a very special newbie than simply receiving a particular demographic's message. To kick off that relationship, develop a series of welcome emails for new subscribers that introduces them to your content and messaging. Retool a particularly successful past campaign or build a new one from scratch, or both. (For more ideas, Cody gives tips galore on segmenting your subscribers based on their relationship with you .) Alternatively, if you have a longer purchase cycle than traditional retail, you may want to segment based on your recipients' place in that process. Read my perspective on segmenting based on customer lifecycle .
+ Elicit audience actions to help your emails succeed in filtered inboxes . Most popular webmail clients (like Gmail and Hotmail) do some automatic filtering for their users. Unloved email senders start to get filtered to the "unimportant" category — and sometimes right out of the inbox. To combat this, encourage your readers to perform the actions that say "this email is valuable" to the inboxes that use these algorithms.
A reply is one of the most powerful indicators to the inbox filter that your email is wanted. Ask your subscribers to reply to your email, vote in a poll or ask questions. Subscriber clicks are also powerful boosts for your reputation; craft situations where readers click, even if they're not shopping or reading more. For example, let subscribers provide feedback by clicking on links right from your email. Keep in mind that every non-open hurts your reputation with all recipients at that domain, so send and segment wisely.
+ Measure past the click to learn what speaks to your audience. Your Emma response page shows you which links in your newsletter were the most popular. For an even deeper look into your audience's preferences, tag your links using an analytics tool like Google Analytics to learn where your subscribers are ultimately landing. For a tutorial, read Cassie's guide to implementing Google Analytics .
+ Develop a plan for non-engaged subscribers . Disengaged subscribers hurt your sender reputation. Periodic pruning of your list is a good idea. First, define what "inactive" means for your brand. Is it someone who hasn't opened, clicked or engaged through any channels in three months? Six months? A year?
Next, create your plan of attack. Will you send a few emails asking folks to opt back in and then remove those who don't? Is opening the reactivation email enough to be considered active? Give your plan a try, and then move those lifeless email addresses out of your regular sending list. You may decide to remove them completely or send less frequently for a while before saying goodbye. Just don't be alarmed if your reactivation campaign doesn't win the majority of folks back. With email address turnover these days, many of them may not be salvageable.
Moving beyond "one size fits all" messaging and saying goodbye to your non-openers isn't always an easy transition, but your response rates will reflect the additional effort. Before you know it, those folks who stick around will be engaging with you in ways you may not have expected — and helping spread the word about you to new, attentive subscribers.
Not yet an Emma customer? Send stunning emails that get noticed.
This Sunday, millions of people will gather to watch the Super Bowl. For some, it's all about the commercials. For others, it's about critiquing Madonna's half-time performance. And for the sports fans among us, it's about the matchup of two football teams who had very different, and equally exciting, seasons. Regardless of which side you're rooting for, Emma is proud to power the emails of this year's NFC Champions, the New York Giants. The folks that handle the Giants' premium ticket holder relations have knocked their email strategy out of the park, er, into the end zone. Take a look at a few of the ways Rachel Wohl and her team tackle email marketing.
The right message to the right people
The Giants' marketing team understands the art of audience segmentation. With various levels of ticket holder, messaging has to be specific. By segmenting smaller groups based on ticketing level, the Giants ensure the relevancy of every message that hits the inbox. In turn, recipients trust that their time is not being wasted with unnecessary information. The Giants average open rate is a whopping 55% — that's more than twice the industry average!In short: While the Giants have built-in segments to work with, any business can find ways to get more focused with messaging. If you're a nonprofit, consider creating unique audience groups for donors versus volunteers. Retail shops and restaurants can group by recipient preferences. And businesses with multiple locations can use zip codes to divide their database. Find what groupings make sense for your business and industry, and use Emma's search and segment feature to make it happen. Then, test to see if segment-specific messages make a difference in your response rates.
Having fun with the brand
With a legacy that goes back to 1925, the Giants have established themselves as one of the most recognizable brands in the NFL. The block-style "NY" logo is as instantly familiar as their blue and red uniforms. In keeping with that tradition, the Giants' email stationery boldly conveys the brand. And once you've got brand recognition, it's easy to loosen up and have a little fun. The Giants call on Emma's design team to occasionally adjust their existing stationery by adding subtle nods to various seasons. From hints of pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month to leaves for fall and snowflakes for winter, the stationery stays true to the brand while delivering a little surprise and delight along the way.In short: If you're getting bored of your newsletter's look, chances are your audience is a little bored too. Why not get creative? Adding holiday elements for an end-of -year push is an obvious place to start, but any season or special event in your business or industry can inform a slight variation on your existing template. Send a design request to our team, and we'll walk through the details with you.
Keeping the party going
The Super Bowl is a time to party, and that's especially true for the Giants and their fans this year. As a special thank you for continued support, the Giants planned a party for their premium ticket holders. They worked with our design team to create a custom email that has the feel of an exclusive invitation, while incorporating brand familiarity. To manage the response, the Giants linked the invitation to an Emma-powered survey, which acts as an RSVP form. When recipients fill out the survey, all the information goes right into the response section in the Giants' account, making it easy to track and follow up.In short: Consider managing your next event right within your Emma account. Create an email invitation, link it to a survey that collects all of your RSVP details, and then set up triggered emails to remind attendees about the event in advance. You could even create a follow-up survey after the event to gather feedback. Need help geting started? Our support team would be happy to show you how it all works together.
As you watch on Sunday and get swept up in the gameday antics, take a moment to marvel at all the behind-the-scenes work that boosts fan engagement and participation. We're thrilled to be partnered with the Giants, and we're excited to see how their marketing team continues to smartly reach their fans.