We see A LOT of email here at Emma, and these are hands down some of the best of 2017. Join Senior Content Writer Jeff Slutz as he breaks down our favorite email campaigns of the year and shares predictions on the strategies successful marketers will be using in 2018 and beyond.
In this webinar you’ll learn:
• Design tips top brands are using to stand out in the inbox
• Content strategies to maximize engagement and conversion rates
• How to achieve the highest possible email ROI in 2018
All right. Hello, everyone. And thank you so much for joining us for today’s presentation, the Best Email Marketing of 2017. Before we get started today, let’s go over a little bit of housekeeping first. We will be sending a recording of today’s presentation, so if you need to hop off or, you know, you just want to share it with a friend or a colleague, we do have you covered. Just stay tuned to your inbox over the next few days and you will see the recording there. Also, you are muted, but please, please, please feel free to ask questions. And we’ll do a little Q&A at the end. Just go ahead and type those directly into the GoToWebinar Chat panel. And we’ll get to those at the conclusion of today’s presentation.
And I know a lot of you sent in some great questions in at registration, so we’ll also get to as many of those as we possibly can. And I know that not everyone on the line today is an Emma customer, so for those who aren’t familiar with us, Emma is a leading provider of Email Marketing Software and Strategic Services with over 15,000 customers worldwide. And our mission is to help our customers and marketers everywhere really, do their very best work on a daily basis. We’ve been around since about 2003 based here in Nashville, Tennessee, which is where I am presenting from today. And you’re probably wondering who the heck I am. So, let me tell you. I am Jeff Slutz, and I am the Senior Content Writer here at Emma, which basically means that I get to work every day with the fantastic team that creates all of our marketing content from blog posts, to emails, to webinars like this one today. But enough of all that, let’s go ahead and dive into the best email marketing of 2017.
So, first, let’s talk a little bit about what we’re going to cover. You know, being an email marketing company we see a lot of email. I mean, a lot and not just from our own customers. We’re fans of great marketing wherever it’s happening. So, we’re constantly sharing examples from our own inboxes with each other. You know, yeah, it’s nerdy as all get out, but it’s work we’re passionate about. So, today, we’re gonna try to recreate that a little bit, share some of the emails we love to hopefully give you a little inspiration. And, you know, if you attended one of our webinars this year, you might see a few familiar favorites. But I’ll also share plenty of new examples, so it’s not just the greatest hits. We certainly like to keep things fresh around here. And of course, it won’t be all about pre-design, though, there will be plenty of that too. I’ll also break down some of the smart strategies that these marketers are using, giving you the why behind what they’re doing. So you can take those tips, those ideas, apply them to your own email marketing strategy.
And finally, since it’s the end of the year, I’ll call my shot a little bit and make a few predictions on what successful marketers will be doing in 2018, maybe to help you get ahead of the game a little bit. And remember, 60% of the time I am right every time. But before we start showing some of the best email marketing I’d be remiss if we didn’t first talk about the backbone of any successful email program. That’s your list of subscribers of course. It’s quite literally your most valuable marketing asset because we’re talking about your core audience here, the people you’re trying to reach, and ultimately convert with every piece of communication.
And this is a pretty sobering fact here. I mean, the average email list churns by about 30% every year. That means almost a third of your email audience will unsubscribe on an annual basis. That’s pretty scary stuff, right? So, a smart list growth strategy is so crucial to your success. You should be looking for opportunities to grow your list, really wherever you’re interacting with your audience. So, whether that be on your website, you know, through lead magnets, or on your social channels, at events, at your brick and mortar location. All of those are fair game for asking for an email address. It helps you combat that natural churn and ensure that you have a solid and consistent audience to reach every time you send.
But when someone new joins your list, you have to ask yourself, are you treating them, every single person that joins, the same? And I hope the answer is no, because when someone joins your list, what they’re doing is they’re inviting you into their inbox. That’s a very personal space and you should treat it as such and deliver a personal experience. You owe it to your subscribers to be responsible and deliver relevant content. Make that one-to-many email communication truly feel one-to-one, because you know what? If you don’t do that they’re just flat out not gonna stick around.
Receiving too many emails is the number one reason that people unsubscribe. So, if your email strategy is to blast everything to everyone on your list every single time you send. You know, it might actually work at first or at least seem like it’s working because, you know, email is an effective channel, even when it is done poorly, which is why sometimes, you know, email might get neglected and you do still see some pretty bad email out there. But today’s consumers are smart. They’ll quickly realize that most of what you’re sending isn’t actually relevant to their interests at all. So, even if you aren’t really sending that often it will feel like you’re sending too much because it has nothing to do with them, has nothing to do with their interest. You become one of those senders that they reflexively delete when they see your emails until they also might get tired of doing that and unsubscribe, or even worse, mark you as spam.
So, what is the answer to that? Segmentation. We’re gonna take a look at a couple awesome examples of segmentation because really, it is the single biggest differentiator between those who see great email results and those who don’t. Because here’s why. According to the Data and Marketing Association, which was formerly the Direct Marketing Association, segmented campaigns can lead to a 760% increase in revenue. Just go ahead and marinate on that for a minute and let it sink in. There are a million ways that you can segment and it gives you such ridiculous advantage over brands who aren’t doing it. Pretty much any data point that you’re collecting can be used to segment your list and tailor your content accordingly. So, you just have to make up your mind to do it. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at a couple of brands who did an excellent job of segmenting in 2017.
First up, is sports clothing retailer HOMAGE. So, I’m from Ohio. I’m a big Ohio State fan. Don’t judge me. I’ve purchased a couple of Ohio State T-shirts from HOMAGE before, they’ve captured that data about me. And so, I get promotions whenever they have new Ohio State gear available. This particular one arrived during the week prior to the Michigan game, which is Michigan’s Ohio State’s biggest rival. It’s when Buckeye fandom is certainly at its height. And that’s the thing about segmentation when it’s done right, the recipient isn’t necessarily where they’ve been, “Segmented” at all. They just get an email that’s super timely and super relevant to their interests. So, you know, I do this for a living, so I had a pretty good idea that some segmentation was happening here. But to be sure, I gave my brother a call because the thing about my brother despite being raised in the same house, he doesn’t care about Ohio State, which is a decision that’s more than likely to get him written out of my parents will, but I do know he has purchased other clothing from HOMAGE.
So, I asked him if he got this email and he said he didn’t, which, you know, that’s super smart on HOMAGE’s part because they’re not annoying him with a promotion that he’s probably going to ignore or delete especially this time of year when there’s a ton of email being sent. But what my brother did get is this email. So, he’s a big Cleveland Cavaliers fan, he follows the NBA closely, and again, HOMAGE knows that about him so he received this email for their new collection of NBA throwback T-shirts. It’s catered to his interest, and while I didn’t buy that Ohio State shirt I just showed, my brother actually did end up purchasing an old school Cavs T-shirt as a result of this email. So, the point is segmentation with relevant timely content, it works. Had HOMAGE bombarded my brother with email for every single T-shirt, every single announcement or promotion that they had he may have ignored this one as a result of just being tired of seeing their emails. But instead, they segmented and they made a sale. It’s a real life example of that 760% stat that I just shared with you.
This next example is from David’s Bridal, and I apologize here if the copy is a little small for you to see, but I’ll kind of talk you through what’s happening here. And my colleague, McKenzie, she recently got married. And prior to her wedding, she joined David’s Bridal list. So, during that signup process, they asked for her wedding dates so that they knew when her big day would be, and with that information, they can create segments based on how many months away that their subscribers are from the wedding day. So, this particular email was sent six months out from McKenzie’s wedding. The subject line was, “McKenzie you’re six months away,” which it’s personalized, it’s relevant, and so it includes her name, it’s very eye-catching.
So, naturally, she opened it and she saw this. Each piece of content here is tailored to something she would be doing at the six month planning mark. Relaxing here because planning a wedding is pretty much the most stressful thing on the planet. Hair and makeup tips to look best on the big day, pointers for making sure you have all the right vendors in place. You get the idea, it’s all super relevant, super helpful. You can be sure that she’ll be opening and clicking on the next mailing whenever they send. Plus, this is quite a bit of content here, but it’s laid out on a way that doesn’t feel like a lot of content when she opens it. There’s clear divisions between the sections, has separate headlines, different images with each section, and CTAs that makes it very easy to scan as you’re scrolling down, whether you’re on your desktop or on your phone.
And that brings us to our first prediction for 2018, which is that the most successful marketers will focus more on engagement than on a reach. So, in other words, they’ll spend more time marketing to their existing customer base and delivering them the best experience possible than trying to acquire brand new customers who may or may not have ever heard of them. So, this is a simple case of making the most of your time and your resources. According to marketing metrics, the probability of selling to a new prospect is somewhere between 05% and 20%. The probability of selling to an existing customer, 60% to 70%. So, a lot of marketers have this flipped, devoting a ton of time and energy to get their brand name out there, to attract new eyeballs. While existing customers, you know, they’re kind of an afterthought, but in reality your customer base is your biggest untapped resource. There’s nothing more powerful than word of mouth. So focus on engaging your customers, deliver value and exceptional customer service at every turn, and your name will be the first one they think of when their friends or colleagues ask for recommendations. And when you have that engaged customer base it allows you to do things like this.
So, this is a, refer a friend email from the content software platform Uberflip. We happen to use Uberflip to host our own blog, and I can say from personal experience, they do a fantastic job of customer marketing. They keep us in the loop of the latest product developments, offering tips to get better at this whole content marketing thing. So, when Uberflip asked customers to refer a friend, the ask feels earned because they’ve been providing value every step of the way. And plus having the email come from an actual employee with really human, funnies, and a natural sounding copy, you know, a kind of GIF at the end that you might send to your friends. It just gives the whole experience a nice personal touch. Plus, they’re offering a ton of value if you do refer someone who ends up converting, so there’s something in it for the customer, the opportunity to win a free year of Netflix. That’s one heck of an incentive. So, really, really smart customer marketing on their part.
But if you want to take segmentation to the next level, then it’s time to talk about personalization. So, personalization is one of those marketing terms…you hear it all the time. It gets thrown around a lot and it can mean so many different things. So, for some it’s simply including a first name and a subject line, but for savvier marketers, it extends all the way through the content of the mailing. So, you know, are you personalizing images, copy, the type of content you’re sending. It’s important to define what exactly you’re talking about when discussing personalization with your team so that you’re all on the same page before you get going. Because personalization is really important to getting the kind of results that you’re gonna be looking for next year.
Eighty-six percent of consumers say that personalization plays a role in their purchase decisions. Again, it’s all about being relevant and timely. So, I’m about to show you an example from Netflix. The subject line said something along the lines of, “Jeff, here’s a new show recommended for you.” So, of course I opened it because I’m always interested in that next binge worthy thing that I can watch, and this is what I saw. Thomas, “Thomas the Tank Engine.” Not, “Stranger Things,” not, “Master of None,” not, “Orange is the New Black,” Thomas. That seems like a terrible mistake, right? Nope. It was an absolute lifesaver. See, I have a three-year-old son who just so happens to be obsessed with Thomas. He loves watching it and though, you know, we try to be responsible and limit his TV time, you need that thing as a parent that you can give your kid as an incentive, or to calm them down on a long car ride, or, you know, simply just finish making dinner.
If you’re a parent you’re totally nodding your head right now. So, prior to receiving this email, I noticed when I open Netflix, there was this little disclaimer on all of my son’s favorite Thomas episodes that said, “No longer available after November 1,” and my wife and I were freaking out, our son would be devastated without Thomas. Our house will be anarchy after November 1. But then like a ray of light, this email arrived in my inbox announcing that new Thomas episodes would be available. Netflix, they use their data, they know we watched a lot of Thomas, that those episodes were just gonna be cycling out, so they gave us a heads-up that new ones are gonna be available. It’s just great customer service. Keeping us watching, keeping us retained as happy Netflix customers, and most importantly, keeping us sane parents.
Here’s another example of top notch personalization from my colleague McKenzie’s inbox. LOFT incorporates her name a couple of times here within the body of the email. It’s attention grabbing, you know, we can’t help but stop when we see our name. And it makes the overall experience and offer feel like it’s tailor made just for her. Even though, you know, it’s probably not. A lot of people probably got this, but it’s personalized even beyond that. Just look at the copy, “It’s been a while, here’s a little gift to get you back in the mix.” It’s been a long time since she bought from them, so they’re taking that customer data, in this case, her last purchase date and they’re using it to send her a personalized offer. It’s a classic reengagement tactic, and guess what? It totally works. I’ve bought from one of these emails before, I’m sure you’ve probably bought from one of these emails before. We should all be sending these kinds of emails if you aren’t already. Oh, and one quick design thing as you’re looking at this. If you look at that model, do you notice where she’s looking? It’s right down there at the CTA button. Eye tracking studies show that we’ll naturally follow the gaze of someone to see what they’re looking at, so that’s a neat little trick you can use if you’re including an image of a person in your next mailing.
Prediction time, you’ll finally do that multichannel marketing you’ve been talking about. Now, I know you’re probably like, “Hey, you know, way to go out on a limb there Slutz.” But I’m not predicting that multichannel marketing itself is gonna be a thing. It’s obviously a concept that’s been around for a while. What I’m predicting is that more marketers will actually do it rather than simply talk about it. You know, of course, we’re all using multiple channels every day from email, to social, to content, but in 2018 marketers will get smarter about truly connecting the dots between those channels, using them to create a cohesive experience for their target audience. Because, you know, some people they prefer to consume content, you know, in different ways via video. Some prefer websites or landing pages, other might prefer an infographic. So, keep tabs on those analytics, let the data lead the way and then you can serve content in the channels that people prefer ensuring that they’re receiving consistent thematic messaging wherever they’re interacting with your brand. And of course, is the one channel that is super efficient, trackable, plays remarkably well with the other channels at your disposal, email will be at the center of it all. You can kind of think of it as the hub of your marketing wheel, so to speak.
So, on to the fun stuff. Let’s talk a little bit about email design. There’s a ton and that we can get into when it comes to design. So, what we’re gonna do here is break it out in a few ways from scanability, to mobile design, to particular elements like GIFs and video. So, here’s an important thing to keep in mind when it comes to design. Eighty percent of people are only scanning your email. People are busy. They’re quickly checking their email while waiting in line at the coffee shop, or if they get to a meeting a couple minutes early. You really only have a few precious seconds to make a big enough impression that they’ll either engage right then, or remember to revisit it later when they have more time. You know, they say that the human attention span hovers somewhere around eight or nine seconds, which believe it or not, is actually less than that of a goldfish. So, that’s pretty depressing, I know. But just think about your own habits, so like when you open an email, you’re probably not reading it word for word at least not at first, you’re quickly looking at the images, maybe scanning the headlines, maybe the CTA button. And just only then are you giving it a closer read if you find something that seems interesting. So, it’s vital that you take that behavior into account when it comes to your own design. And don’t just assume everyone is gonna be reading every single word of your email.
Case in point, this is another example from Netflix. I promise this is the last Netflix example, but they just crushed it with their email marketing this year. Talk about grabbing your attention, you know, grabbing attention of our little goldfish brands. When you see something like this in your inbox, that immediately pops out. When you see those initial lines are getting crossed out, you know you’re in for something cool. So, you’re locked in to see what happens here? How this is gonna play out? The actual email doesn’t cycle through like this when you receive it. It stays static once it lands on that screen for, “The Punisher” show with that play button there. But we just kind of turned into a GIF here so you can kind of see what it does. And look, don’t ask me how they did it. I’m a writer that’s certainly out of my wheelhouse. I’ll leave that to the smarter folks than me. I just know as a recipient, it was one of the hands down the coolest emails of the year. And it speaks to the value of creating something a little different that breaks up, you know, the deluge of branded 40% off discounts that overwhelmed your inbox every day. So, think differently, and you will get the results and the attention that you’re looking for.
Getting back to scanning a little bit. When you design with scanning in mind, more often than not, your design will also be mobile optimized because 75% of your audience will flat out delete an email without a second thought if it’s hard to see on their phone. We are practically addicted to our phones, so mobile optimization is no longer one of those would be nice to have things, we’ll get around to it type of deals. It’s an absolute must if you wanna get into the marketing game. This welcome email is from an Emma customer, Back Yard Burgers. And it’s an example that renders nicely on mobile. It’s scanable, quickly grabs your attention, it’s got a nice, you know, single column layout, plenty of white space there. It makes it easy on the eyes. They’re using large fonts for easy reading on the small screen, and the content is focused and cohesive throughout. “Welcome to our email list. Here’s a coupon for a free burger as a thank you for signing up. And here’s where you can find a location near you to take advantage of it.” And when it comes to grabbing attention, nothing quite does it like a big, juicy burger. Neuroscientists have proven that our brains light up when we see images of either food, sex, or danger. So, really, the only way they could have improved here is if they put the burger in a bathing suit and had it go skydiving.
And I’ll quickly move on from that glorious image with the next prediction. Less will be more when it comes to design. Not everyone has the design resources or chops of a company like Netflix. I know that. And we’re speaking from a budget and time standpoint. Most marketers are being asked to do more with less. So the key will be simplifying your design, simplifying that template and messaging, and will not only help your team move faster, but to create a more scanable email that looks great on all devices. So think clarity, and simplicity, substance over style. That will be the ultimate differentiator when it comes to competing with the top brands in the inbox.
Project management software provider Trello, absolutely nails this idea. So, this is clearly a template that they can repurpose whenever they have multiple pieces of news to share. The header establishes the overall theme. The email content is broken out into scanable sections. Each has its own headline with fun illustrations and CTA button, and knows how the background color changes from section to section. It’s a little subtle thing, but it makes each one stand out more and it makes it much easier to the eye as I’m scrolling down on my phone. Plus, you know, they’re sharing a lot of information here which I know we all get pressure to do sometimes just like that David’s Bridal example from before, it doesn’t feel like a lot because the design is so clean and well executed here.
So, let’s talk about an Emma favorite, which are GIFs. Including a GIF in your email design every once in a while is a great way to lift your click rates and freshen up your content. They add some movement to what’s traditionally a static medium, and so they immediately grab your attention when you see one. Plus they’re just flat out fun, and we all like to be surprised and delighted every once in a while. And they also work, GIFs have been shown to increase email conversion rates by 130%. And, you know, we get this question a lot. But yes, GIFs should function for the vast majority of your subscribers. Almost all email clients support GIFs, according to our trusted friends there at Litmus, and it is extremely likely that down the road 100% of them will. Right now, Outlook is the only tricky one. Some older versions of Outlook will only display the first frame of an animated GIF, it will display as a static image. So, as long as that first frame looks good and makes sense as a standalone element within your email, no one will ever know the difference.
And I won’t spend a whole lot of time on this email from mattress company Casper, other than to say, I just love that GIF. When you open the email those coffee mugs animate, cheers each other. The coffee the mugs start sloshing around. It’s simple, it’s fun, it ties in well with the rest of the email, that promo code CLINK, the CTA, “Celebrate with us,” just a clean, beautiful, celebratory email that you wanna be a part of. But look at me, GIFs don’t have to just be all about fun, they’re also a great way to show off product. Think about the T-shirts that we’re cycling through back on that HOMAGE NBA email or, you know, if you’re a B2B software company, a GIF could show off some new features of your product right there in the inbox without asking people to, you know, to log into their account or watch a demo to see them. So, they have multiple uses.
Another surefire way to boost your engagement through email though is to link out to a video. Video has proven time and time again to be one of the most reliable ways to lift your click rates and to drive people back to your website. So, because Email Monks they found that including a video thumbnail in your email, it can actually lift your ROI by as much as 280%, so powerful stuff here. And this example from Emma customer GoldieBlox is downright perfect. GoldieBlox is a company that makes toys and games that are designed to help girls develop an early interest in engineering and problem solving, really cool stuff. So, they have a wonderful relationship with their customer base. They’re very loyal.
So, to show their appreciation for five successful years in business they sent this simple heartfelt thank you email that includes a video message from their founder and CEO. And something that’s crucial if you wanna be successful with video and email is to pick the right screen grab. This one is great, she looks like she’s having a blast. You wanna know what she’s laughing at. You wanna be in on that joke. You can’t help but click on it and see what all the fun’s about.
And then after you’re full of the form and full of, you know, the warm and fuzzy vibes from watching the video and you feel like you have that nice personal connection to the brand after sharing a laugh with the CEO, here’s a free copy of a signed copy of their latest book. That’s how you focus on engaging your customer base. You’re turning everyday customers into true fans who will sing your praises from the nearest mountain top or Twitter account. It is brilliant marketing.
This brings us to our next prediction, I know I’ve shown several emails already that include some sort of discount or sale, but my prediction for 2018 is that you will see brands focusing less on how much they can slash prices and more on the value they can provide. Everyone’s offering discounts, so establishing other ways to provide value is how successful brands like GoldieBlox set themselves apart. Let me show you a couple of examples of what I mean.
So, this is Cyber Monday email from retailer Everlane. It hits it head on. Positioning themselves as the opposite of all those discounts that flooded inboxes on Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. They’re still communicating and competing for attention and dollars, but by establishing that they’re providing value every day, rather than just trying to outdiscount their competitors, they set themselves apart during one of the most difficult times to stand out in the inbox.
And here’s another example from retailer, Consider the Wldflwrs. This takes a page right out of the B2B playbook. Yes, this is a retailer that is doing content marketing. The top spot in this email isn’t selling you engagement rings, it’s providing a guide on how to shop for engagement rings, buying an engagement ring is stressful. I wish I had a guide like this when I was doing it. So, providing something of value like this helps establish some trust and a connection that’s deeper than if they had just offered 20% off rings. And of course, you know, once you’ve read the guide and you do feel ready to shop and comfortable, they’re here waiting with a fantastic selection to choose from. So, it’s brilliant marketing on their part.
Now, let’s dig into automation. We hear it all the time. “I know automation works. I know I should be using it. I just haven’t got around to it. I don’t know where to start.” You know, a lot of excuses there. And look, you’re not alone. Heck, we’re a marketing software and services company, and one of our resolutions for 2018 is to do a better job with automation. But the fact is, you know, not only will it help you save time, the results are just too big to ignore. This is a number that I wanna share with you, 63% of companies outgrowing their competitors use marketing automation. We’re marketers, so we’re competitive people by nature. We all want to outperform our competition. Automation is one way you can do it. And look, automation can seem a little intimidating at first, we’re all afraid we might screw something up. But you apply the same careful thought and strategy to automation as you would any other tool, and you don’t just set it and forget it. You’ll see some pretty great results and you will definitely be thankful for the extra time you’re gonna save. So, if you’re just getting started with automation, my advice is to test the waters with a welcome email.
So, Boden, they check all the boxes of what a great welcome email should be. First, they immediately tell you what you can expect to receive by joining their email list. You’ll get access to new arrivals, styling tips, exclusive sales. Next, they follow through on a promise of their signup form, which is providing a 15% discount to anyone who joins their list. That’s super important to establish credibility for your brand from the outset, and believe me not, everyone does it. I can’t believe it, but believe me there’s no way to hurt your brand’s credibility than to not make good on your initial offer when joining the list. And finally, they give you a chance to click through to their site. It’s simple, straightforward, this is clean, and it’s effective because simply sending an automated welcome email has been shown to increase long term brand engagement by over 33%. So, if you’re not automating a welcome email, sign off from this webinar right now, go set one up, you can always watch the recording later because a subscriber will never be more engaged than the moment that they join your list.
But unfortunately, you know, not every subscriber is going to stay engaged. For one reason or another they’re gonna stop opening and clicking your email. It happens. If someone hasn’t opened an email in a while you can automate a reengagement email like this one to see if they want to stay on your list. And if they don’t, that’s perfectly fine. You have a cleaner list, you have more reliable data, and an unsubscribe is always preferable to someone sending you to the spam folder and hurting your sender reputation in the long run.
But in between saying hello with a welcome email and potentially saying goodbye with a reengagement one, there are all sorts of opportunities to automate. I love this birthday email I received from Nike, and not just because it’s an automated birthday email. This one is actually a reminder of an automated birthday email that I had previously gotten. So, you know, we’re all busy, we forget things and I forgot that I had this birthday discount waiting for me in my inbox. The thing is, this is the exact same email as the initial one I received. All they did was change the subject line to, I think it said, “Last chance, your birthday gift is waiting.” They didn’t have to recreate and spend the resources to create a brand new email from scratch to get me to click through to their site and potentially buy some shoes. All they did was use their data to automate a reminder with a different subject line when I didn’t click through on the initial send. So, great way of maximizing their time and resources.
So now, I’m gonna show you a series of automated emails from an Emma customer called Promevo, where they’re a Google reseller. And this is just a really, really great idea. It’s all based on the email data and the actions their subscribers took inside the inbox. So, what they did is they took advantage of, we have a branching logic tool, easy for me to say, branching logic. Which automates a sort of, you know, kind of a choose your own adventure experience for subscribers. So, here’s the initial email and what they’re doing here is saying, thank you for stopping by their exhibit booth at a recent conference. So, they’re offering a white paper to give their subscribers something of value and get them to further engage with their brand. This is really content marketing 101. Now, if someone doesn’t engage with that initial email, then they automatically receive this email a few days later which offers the same exact white paper just has a different subject line to see if it does a trick. So this is kind of like the Nike reminder email example I just shared earlier. Didn’t really have to recreate the wheel here just a simple next step to try to get them to open.
If someone does click on the email and shows that they’re engaged, then they automatically receive this follow-up message which offers to answer questions and show them around Promevo’s product offerings. And if they don’t click Promevo then just kind of bows out gracefully automatically firing off this email, which acknowledges that, you know, maybe now wasn’t the right time. But we’re certainly here whenever you ultimately want to learn more about what we have to offer. The beautiful thing is that they’re able to set up this entire series ahead of time before they went to the conference just using their data that they’re going to easily have access to through Emma, to create this seamless inbox experience without ever having to push send on a single email. It’s all about using automation to help you save valuable time and resources while using your data to create these relevant inbox experiences wherever a subscriber is in your marketing funnel. Because they’re all at different stages.
And now, you know, Promevo, that’s a B2B brand. So, let’s zero in on B2B for a minute and talk about one of my favorite B2B examples of the year. Because whenever I do a webinar, I’m always asked, “How can B2B marketers take some of the more fun, cutting-edge things that they’re seeing in the B2C space and apply it to their own marketing?” And, you know, the thing to remember here, whether you’re in B2B, B2C, a nonprofit, whatever, it’s still a human being on the other side of that email you’re sending. A lot of these same rules still apply. You have to be mobile-optimized. You have to design for scanning. You have to provide value. You have to be helpful, establish trust and credibility. And most importantly, you have to be human. Subscribers, they want to relate to your brand. So, just because you’re in B2B doesn’t mean you have to sound like a robot and spew out jargon, strike a human conversational tone, speak in their language, and communicate that, you know, you’re all in this together. And if you do that, you’ll be one of those emails that subscribers are excited to open when it lands in their inbox. You know, an email kind of like this one.
This is an interactive email from our friends at Litmus, who provide email design and testing software. They took their usual email newsletter where their lead story was all about the pros and cons of interactive email, and they turned that into an interactive email itself where you can click through on the arrows to the left and right to tap through the different sections of the newsletter. So, it kind of acts like a website within the inbox. We turned this into a GIF just to kind of recreate that effect. It doesn’t actually scroll through when it really lands there you have to click on those arrows to make it do that. It’s all very meta and very smart to show that, “Hey, here’s proof that we know what we’re talking about when we’re giving you advice about interactive email.” Plus they’re showing their customers what’s possible which that’s of the utmost importance when you’re marketing in the B2B space. Show customers how they can use your product and the benefits that they’re gonna get because of it.
Now, at Emma, nonprofits, they’re very much in our DNA. In fact, fun fact for you, our very first customer is the Belcourt Theater here in Nashville, very nonprofit. So, from day one, we’ve been invested in the nonprofit space, and I love to talk about nonprofit marketing when I get a chance because email marketing, it provides nonprofits such a unique opportunity to tell their story and really make an impact. So, a couple of my favorite examples from the past year. This is a first…this first one here is a gorgeous mobile optimized email from our customer, Charity: Water, which what they do is they develop clean water projects for people in need all over the world.
And the thing I wanna call attention to here is the singular focus of this email. Everything from the headline, to the image, to the copy, to the video at the bottom is laser-focused on just one thing, which is asking current donors to refer Charity: Water to their networks on Giving Tuesday. According to WordStream, emails like this with a single call to action can increase sales or in this case donations by as much as 1,617%. Let that number sink in for a second. That is huge.
So, if you want high ROI, if you want to deliver a great experience in 2018, start by not freaking out your subscribers with 18 different calls to action crammed into a single email. Including too many CTAs in your email’s a mistake that far too many marketers continue to make. And I get it. I mean, it’s tempting, you’re busy, you’re overwhelmed, you’ve got a lot of pressure. You want one email to do everything. But unfortunately, that rarely works. There’s actually something that neuroscientist call, choice paradox, which means if you give someone too many choices, then it becomes too difficult for their brains to process. So, the brain will want to take the easy way out which in this case, it means not making a choice at all. So, the fewer the CTAs the better. Charity: Water also smartly incorporates video like we talked about earlier. As a primary CTA it helps them continue the story outside of the inbox and it’s a surefire way to increase engagement and help them expand upon their message.
Here’s another example from Heal the Bay, they are an organization that works to protect the coastline and urban waterways in Los Angeles County. This is a different take on the Boden reengagement email that I showed earlier, but I just love the tone and the consistency of this email throughout. The lighthearted, a pun filled email, it’s a perfect way for Heal the Bay to clean up their list and prove deliverability, and show subscribers that they’re still paying attention. Plus that GIF that could have been featured alongside Casper in the best GIFs section. It immediately grabs your attention when you open it, which is super important when you are trying to win back a subscriber who may have tuned out. This whole vibe is a good reminder that, “Oh yeah, I like this organization. Let me see what they’ve been up to.” So, definitely clicking that, “Yes, Reel me back in,” button if this landed in my inbox.
And here is possibly the boldest prediction yet, but also the one I’m most confident in. You’re going to do your best email marketing ever in 2018. But you know, don’t just take my word for I’m just one guy. Let these numbers tell the story here. As marketers, we are all busier than ever. I know I’ve been kind of harping on that, there are so many channels, so much data, every deadline feels like it’s ASAP. And frankly, sometimes all that pressure really, really sucks. In our recent industry report we found that 64% of marketers lack the time and resources they need to do the kind of marketing they would like. The point is, when you’re that busy, and you’re pulled in a million different directions, it’s natural that some things might fall through the cracks or might just get put on the back burner. Even with something as critical to your success as email marketing, but not in 2018. You’re gonna put email front and center, and here’s why.
Forty-seven percent of marketers report that email generates the most ROI for their organization, and 58% plan to increase spending on email marketing during the next year. Both of those numbers are higher for email than they are for any other digital channel. You can see they’re on that graph there. If you’ve been paying attention to marketing trends over the past few years, these numbers shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise to you because email gives you the most bang for your marketing buck. It’s the one channel that provides reliable reach. Unlike a tweet, or a Facebook post, or a display ad, you know that your audience at least received and saw the message. They might not open it, they might not click on it, but you know they got it. And that’s huge when you’re strapped for time and resources.
And the other thing, email is what customers want from us. Seventy-two percent of adults prefer that companies communicate via email. Just think about your own habits. When you hop on Twitter, or Instagram, or Facebook, you’re not going there for brand updates. You’re going there to see what your friends and your family are up to. And I know for a fact you don’t want brands calling you on the phone unless it’s to resolve some sort of customer service issue. The place to go is email, and quite simply, if you build it, they will come. So, use some of the tips I’ve given you today. Take some inspiration from these emails and the favorites from your own inbox, mix in your own goals and creativity. And most importantly, focus your efforts. You could start seeing some of your best results ever in 2018, I’m confident of it.
So, I was talking pretty fast there, sharing a lot of examples, zipping through a lot of data and stats. So, let’s do a real quick recap of what we learned today. The best email of 2017 and the secrets to success in 2018 is all about engagement. Narrowing your audience through segmentation, fitting the message to that segment, using your data to personalize your content, and delivering it at the perfect moment with automation. This isn’t as daunting as it sounds. We have the data at our fingertips. We have the technology. We know what to do. It’s actually easier than ever, we just have to resolve to do it. And guess what? With results you’ll likely see your boss is going to thank you for it.
Also, simplicity is a beautiful thing. Your subscribers are just scanning email and you only have a few seconds max to get them to pay attention. So, don’t just send them a wall of copy filled with text links and a bunch of different CTAs. Simplify your design and your messaging. The more white space the better, large fonts, clear section breaks with headlines and focused CTAs, and please, please, please be sure it’s optimized for mobile. The more you can templatize the better. Your team and your subscribers will certainly thank you.
And number three, you’re never done. That kind of sounds depressing, but it’s not meant to be. What it means is don’t just set your email and forget it or leave it on the back burner, or just pay attention to it in January, and then figure you’ll come back to it later in the year. Spice up your content occasionally with a GIF or an occasional video to boost engagement. Stay on top of your data, your subscribers’ interests are going to change over time. If you’re paying attention to your data, then you’ll notice these shifts and be able to pivot accordingly. If you’re nimble and you’re consistently testing and iterating, you’re gonna stay relevant and you’ll have an engaged customer base that’s full of brand advocates. And then you’re also gonna minimize the amount of that list churn that you experience every year.
So that’s it. We’re onto the Q&A time. I hope that was helpful. I know we have about 15 minutes left and I see a ton of awesome questions. So, I know for a fact I won’t be able to get to them all, so let me offer you something here. I wasn’t going to mention this because it’s meant to be exclusive to only customers, but you’ve been such a good engaged crew, I figure I’ll let you in. We’re going to do an, Ask Us Anything on Thursday, December 14, that’s Thursday, December 14. So, if you have a question that I can’t get to, or can’t answer, or if you just want more of this kind of content, or like to get a little bit more of a feel for what the Emma app is like. Please feel free to join us, just visit myemma.com/webinars to register. That’s myemma.com/webinars and you will see the Ask Us Anything registration block there.
So, enough of that, onto some of the questions. Let’s see. Let me dig in here. Okay, looks like there’s a lot about subject lines here. So, we have one from Stephen, “Isn’t it all about the subject line?” Victoria, “What subject lines have worked best?” Caitlin, “Can you share some…” Okay, so I get it. I didn’t talk about subject lines, that’s a major…not oversight that’s not the right word. But this was already a long enough presentation, and I could probably do a whole webinar on subject lines.
So, here’s some quick tips, keep them short. You know, especially, I think on iPhones, you wanna have ballpark 32 characters or something. So, don’t write a novel, keep them short. And definitely value clarity over creativity. I think too often people think that a subject line has to be super clever or super witty. But what I’ve found is that if you get too far out there, if you try to be funny that people aren’t going to take the time to get the joke. They’re just scrolling through their inbox, they’re not gonna pause to get it. So, it’s really…communicate the value of the email of what’s inside clearly. And that will help boost your open rates. And most importantly, test, subject lines are one of the easiest thing to test. You can create, you know, certain tools that you can test up to three or four subject lines and just see which one performs better. That way you’re maximizing your open rates every time you send.
Here’s actually a quick example of one that we tested, so we host our own marketing conference every April, it’s called Marketing United. We’re doing it again this April, so if you’re interested, please check out marketingunited.com. So, last year, we were promoting some speakers who had previously spoken at Marketing United, and they were coming back to speak again. So, our subject line, we tested two different ones, one was, “They’re back” which, you know, kind of a little fun, poltergeist play. Another one was called…or it said something like, “See who’s coming back to Nashville.” A little bit more straightforward.
So, the overall results of that test is that, “They’re back” won. Then when we dug a little deeper into the data, what we found is that the folks who opened, “They’re back” were existing customers, but with our pipeline and folks who weren’t existing customers, “See who’s coming back to Nashville” actually won. So, it was kind of interesting. It’s like the more fun, clever one worked better for the customer bases more familiar with us, they know that we can kind of be a little cheeky and have a little fun with our brand. Whereas the prospects who weren’t quite as familiar, the more straightforward this is what is inside this email, was the winner. So, that is just some audience data that we can learn from the next time we’re sending an email and we can segment accordingly when we’re sending to customers versus prospects.
Okay, we have another one here from Frank. “Our content strategy is more efficient and effective at achieving clicks via email when comparing those emails that highlight product. However, product emails get eyes on our product and lead to sales. How do you make an argument for content when they’re not a direct link to money coming in the door?” Okay, I think what I’m hearing is content performs better from a click-rates perspective but product-focused offers perform better from a lead gen sales perspective. So, my advice is that it’s not an either/or, do both.
Sure, they’re all email subscribers, they’re on your list, but they might be at different stages of your marketing funnel. So, use the content to reel them in, get them engaged, get them feeling familiar and comfortable with your brand. And then paper in some product offers and some more direct promotions if that’s where you wanna go. The content will help you build that good karma because you’re providing them something useful and valuable. So then when you do send that product offering, not only will they be more likely to take you up on it, because you’ve already established you’re an expert in the space with your content, they won’t mind that you’re sending them an offer or a direct product promo. Because that will feel earned. You’ve already given them a lot of value. You’re allowed to send them something and it won’t turn them off. They won’t automatically unsubscribe, just because you’ve given them an offer. I hope that answered your question there, Frank.
Another one coming in from Katie. “So, for a company newsletter, what is a good amount of information to hold a reader’s attention? For example, is it one to three information sections or so?” I would say it depends on what you’re sending, really. If it’s something that’s super valuable, that’s really high value content that you wanna make sure people see, if it’s a major announcement or something. I would recommend making that a dedicated email with no other content, just have a single CTA. Think back to that stat I shared earlier from WorkStream that increases conversion rates by 1,617% if you just have a Single CTA. So, if you wanna make sure you get the most action possible on a single piece of content, make it a standalone.
Now, if it’s more of a traditional newsletter, where you have a lot of information to share, so just kind of giving out news that’s sort of equal weight. I think it’s less about the amount of information or the number of sections, and more about how you break them up. Think about that Trello example, or even the Litmus example I shared. There was clear dividers between the sections, clear headlines, breaking up the sections, minimal copy. So, it was kind of headline, tight little blurb CTA button, with an image or like an illustration that accompany them. What that does is it makes it super easy to scroll on your phone. We’re used to scrolling down our phones, it’s a natural action for us, so don’t be afraid of having a long email if there’s a lot of news that you wanna share. People will kind of scan through and scroll through it to see if there’s something of interest to them, as long as you’ve hooked them.
Let’s look for another question here from Antonio, “Does testing always work or is it a waste of time?” Well, I would say it is certainly not a waste of time. I’m a big proponent of testing. In fact, I think you should probably be testing with virtually every email that you send. And there’s a couple of reasons why. Testing will resolve creative differences within your team. So, you know, I know from a writing perspective we’ll sometimes come up with different subject lines, or different headlines, and it might be like, “I like this one better. I like this or that one better.” Test them out, put them out there, put both out there with your audience and kind of let them decide what the winner is. That way you’re taking some of the subjectivity and some of the emotionality…you won’t have any conflicts within your team, if you’re trying both and letting the audience decide. And then you have a tangible hard indicator of what one, not just one person’s preference or opinion.
Testing will also…it will help you when you’re trying to sell something to your boss, when you’re trying to sell a new idea. You know, prior to going into that meeting, I would recommend testing out, whatever that idea is that you have, whether you wanna invest in a new channel or start a new campaign, or simply just tweak something with your email template or something. You know, test it out first with a small percentage of your audience and get some data on your side to show that, “Hey, this works better than the old way we’ve been doing things.” Your boss is gonna respond a lot better when you have some hard data on your side than if you just go in there cold, like, “I think this is gonna be better.”
And most importantly, I kind of hinted at this earlier, what testing does, is it gives your audience a vote in how you’re marketing to them. They are telling you exactly what they wanna see from you, so testing is really just another way of saying you’re listening. You’re testing the results, or your audience’s response. So, yeah, definitely not a waste of time. It’s super helpful. I would say also, one thing that I see a lot of marketers kind of make a mistake with is that they’ll test more than one thing at a time. So, they might put…like test an image and the CTA button within the same email, different version. So, the thing there is that you don’t know exactly well, was it the image that impact the results, or was it the CTA button? So, only test one thing at a time. That way you know exactly what variable it is that impacted those results.
Let’s see, we have time for a couple more here. Tanya, “I’ve been given a goal to send daily campaigns for the month of November. How will I be able to keep revenue up, but lose less subscribers?” Oh, boy, daily campaigns every day for the month, that’s a tough one. No doubt about it. What I would say is…so we actually kind of…and this is especially relevant this time of year when you’re sending a lot over the holidays. One idea is…one of our customers actually did this and it was pretty brilliant and I’ve actually seen a couple of examples since then, which is basically putting a pause button on your email. So what you do is…so our customer, Canyon Ranch said we’re gonna be doing a Cyber Monday campaign, and ahead of time.
So, right before they really start sending about it, they sent an email that was basically a heads-up email that said, “Hey, we’re gonna be emailing you a lot about this stuff, so if you’re not interested click this button, we will temporarily remove you from emails related to this offer. If you are interested, click this button and we’ll keep you on the list.” It was really a great idea because what it does is you’re not offending people who aren’t interested in that offer. You’re telling them about it and you’re letting the folks who are interested to kind of opt in and letting the folks who aren’t interested opt out. That way you won’t lose subscribers in the long run, they’ll come back to you after the promotion is over. And you can be sure that the people who are receiving your message are the ones who are gonna be interested in it and more likely to buy. So, I think that’ll kind of accomplish your two goals of boosting revenue with multiple sends without losing your subscribers.
Let’s see, I think we have time for about one more, so I can get you guys out of here a few minutes early. From Christina, “If we make a fantastic looking email, we wanna make sure we send it at the right time or day. Do we have any suggestions regarding when the best time to send an email?” This is a perfect opportunity for testing, what I was talking about before. It’s actually pretty straightforward, just try out different send times, and then keep an eye on your data. It’ll tell you, like you’ll start seeing some trends there of when we send at certain times, when are people opening? I would also say, you know, just trust your intuition, you know, about your customers there. I’ve shared this story before, so if you’ve been on one of our previous webinars.
One of our account managers works with…it’s kind of a niche industry where they’re charter boat captains. They’re marketing two charter boat captains. And they were sending at, I don’t know, 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon and they found that their open rates weren’t great and they’re like, “Well, you know, we’d like to optimize this, what can we do?” And our account manager kind of did a little research and found that the charter boat captains aren’t actually getting off the water until the evening. So, they’re likely not even checking email, they probably only have internet reception until they get home and later on. So, she recommended shifting the send time to later in the evening more around, you know, the 7:00 or 8:00 range and they found that their open rates soared. So, it’s a little bit of just obvious testing, but also trust your gut and know your audience, and when they might be receptive to receiving the messages from you.
All right, well, thank you so much for joining me today. That was fun. I hope you got something of value out of it, you know, the Best Email Marketing of 2017. We’re gonna be sending out the recording, so stay tuned to your inbox, if you want that. If you want more of this content, like I mentioned before, just go to myemma.com/webinars and we can answer some more of your questions during that Ask Us Anything.
So, thanks a lot for joining us y’all. Take care. Bye-bye.