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Email like the best:

Retail design trends to copy in 2017




Regardless of your industry, team size, and budget, today’s consumers expect you to market like Kate Spade, West Elm, and Apple. Those big-name retailers dominate inboxes left and right, but here’s the good news: Many of their flashy tricks can still apply, no matter what product or services your brand offers.

Join Jamie Bradley and Logan Baird as they share some of their favorite retail examples from their own inboxes. You’ll learn:

  • • Design strategies that can easily be applied to your brand’s email marketing.

  • • How to keep up with the biggest names in the game.

  • • The email design trends that matter now – plus what’s on the horizon.

Jamie: Hello. Thank you so much for joining us for today’s presentation, “Email Like The Best: Retail Design Trends To Copy in 2017.” A little housekeeping before we get started. We will send a version of today’s webinar out to everyone who registered. You will always get the recording. Every time Emma does anything ever, you will get the recording, just got to register. So if you need to hop-off or you wanna share with a friend, that will hit your inbox, do not worry.

We also have a big crowd today, so you will all be muted, but if you have questions for us be sure to type those directly into the go-to webinar question panel, chat, motile, whatever you wanna call it, and we’ll be scoping those up, and we’ll get to those at the end of today’s presentation, so do not worry. Also, if you wanna tweet at us or just let us know what you’re thinking, if you have a burning question, we’ll check it, you can go to Twitter and use our handle, @emmaemail and we’ll be looking there too. So, who are these people you see on your screen today? Who are we? I’m Jamie Bradley. I am a Content Marketing Strategist here at Emma, and I am joined…we’ve spent, what, three months in a row?

Logan: It’s really exciting.

Jamie: I know, with the illustrious Logan Baird. Yes, say hello.

Logan: Hello everyone, Jamie, it’s always a great delight to be here, to join you in the webinar which is your natural habitat, so.

Jamie: It is, it is. Logan is our Design Services Lead, and he is the guy that really leads the team of professionals that our customers, whether they’re brand new or have been with us for years and years, his team really guides people through that entire design process, top to bottom. They make templates, they make assets, they train people on how to send the best emails possible. So you’re in good hands with his advice today. And I’m on our marketing team so we’ll look at some examples of our favorites but also how, a little peek behind how Emma uses email as well, so very excited. So why are we talking about this topic today, Logan?

Logan: Well, I think that retail design and retail email design really drives the industry forward in many ways. In part, that’s part of their audience. Their audience is usually folks who adopt early and so they push the platform forward, but we see some really exciting examples here.

Jamie: Exactly. And email marketing typically also for retail specifically generates about 20% of their overall traffic. So retailers are innovative largely because it’s a fast-moving, very competitive industry but also possibly because, you know, that’s where their customers are, they learned very early on that they could have some quick wins in the inbox and were also checking their data and seeing, wow, especially if you’re selling something online or you’re wanting to promote and drive business, you know, email’s a great way to get people to do that. They have to be good at this. Right?

Logan: And that’s what it seemed like. With 20%, that’s not a small stuck.

Jamie: No, sink or swim guys. But in the general landscape, you guys may not all be retailers on the line today. In fact, there’s probably a lot of you specifically who aren’t, wanting to learn from retail if you’re not in that industry. And so general industries stats, and we quote these a lot here, but the average ROI for email as a channel, sort of agnostic of what you’re sending, who you’re sending to, that can be somewhere in the range of $40 for about every $1 spent. And obviously, when you do get into different industries and different types of mailings those numbers can kind of swing up and down. But by and large, email is and has been for as long as I’ve been working in email marketing, one of the most powerful channels for actually generating great ROI and it performs better than the others. Like I said, it’s more than double that of every other channel, that’s been consistent for many years, and McKinsey and Company actually found this out that email is almost 40 times better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter.

Logan: Seems like it’s worth a minute.

Jamie: Yeah, exactly. So today we’re gonna cover some email examples. Not all of them embody best practices but we’re gonna point out the do’s and don’ts along the way. But each one does showcase innovation and really what’s next or what’s on the cutting edge of the horizon for brands that are winning in crowded inboxes because at the end of the day you’re competing with these guys not just your own competitors. So today we’re gonna look at subject lines, we’re gonna look at animated gifs, we’re gonna talk about calls-to-action, we’re gonna talk about smart use of content marketing in email in general and we’re gonna talk about different types of mailings like reengagement campaigns and welcome notes, and then they’re gonna look at just some of our favorites and sort of point out why they’re important.

So to hop right to it, making a good first impression. So, with email marketing, you know, you get someone, you work super hard to get them on your email list or you have, you know, you make a sale or they’re in a trial, you can’t do email marketing without those emails. So let’s say you’ve got them in, you’ve reeled them in, now what? What do you do? Well, because email is such a personal channel you can do some really, really compelling things. So in this section we’re going to talk about subject lines from name, from address, and some best practices on that sort of first automated touchpoint with your audience. So let’s get to it.

So like I just mentioned, you are no longer competing with your specific competitors in your space. Retailers are not competing with their own retailers. You know, a boat salesmen isn’t just competing with other boat salesman, Domino’s competing with travel companies and Tech Crunch and you’re all competing with Cynthia, and Cynthia, one of my favorite people, also our VP of Marketing, who is also my boss, and a very important person to email me. So, there is a stat here you can see, the two biggest factors influencing open rates are the organization the email is from first and then the subject line. So I feel like this is a nice stat to just level the playing field. This is what I’m dealing with.

Logan: Very much, yeah. Because it really is like you are competing with everything else in the inbox for their attention.

Jamie: Absolutely. And with the rise of mobile opens you are competing with lots of other factors too. You’re not just competing with other people in the inbox, you’re competing with me looking at something on my phone and Logan says, “Hey Jamie, look at this thing, in person ,” and “Hey, you know, my internet just went out because I’m riding the subway,” or whatever it might be, you know. The advent, more than half of all email, not just retail email, is opened first on a mobile device. And those numbers, they change and sort of fluctuate but it’s been over the 50% mark for a couple of years.

Logan: Right. It’s trending upwards for sure.

Jamie: Yeah, it ain’t slowing down. So what we’re looking at here is an excellent retail example of REVOLVE. They are a women’s clothing company that I’m quite fond of, and, you know, obviously I saw it in the registration questions, lots of emoji in subject line questions. I think this is almost become synonymous with retail at this point.

Logan: Very much, yeah. So we’re seeing so much more use of emoji in subject lines. And while it can be very effective there are a couple of things that we probably wanna bring up about that, right?

Jamie: Yeah. And we’ll look at those, and you’re jumping the gun. We’re look at them in the next example because what I wanna talk about with this one with REVOLVE, is… Whoa, sorry. They’re blasting. They’re building a lot of stuff here over by our office. Do not be alarmed. No. So the subject line here, this is incredibly bold and this is not something necessarily that we would say is always a best practice. This is all engagement rings, but what they are doing really well in this example is that they are making the most of what they know to be true about their audience most likely. So, that mobile stat that we mentioned, it’s interesting to note, and like Logan was saying, he’s gonna get into some do’s and don’ts for using emoji.

But really to me, this is an illustration of knowing that the majority of their subscribers are most likely looking at their emails on a mobile device. This is something that you can see in Emma, you can probably see it in your ESP if you’re not using Emma. They know that when they send out this all-emoji subject line, the majority of people are going to be able to see it. It’s going to render, it’s not gonna get blocked out. What they do just in case though that’s really smart is that there is text here. They have fall in love with lacy tops, dreamy floral maxis and more, and this is called pre-header texts. So now with people viewing email on, you know, in a majority on a mobile device, this pre-header text always is gonna show up on mobile and mobile inboxes. It’s also gonna show up, you see here, this is just my Mac mail, my desktop view. It also shows up there as well. So the point of this mailing and what I could expect from it, even if I didn’t have my preview pane enacted, you know, where I could see the preview of the mailing here to the right, this would still be an effective subject line inbox experience regardless of the fact that they just, “Hey, forget words. We’re doing some wedding rings here.” So it’s really, really nice.

And a mobile stat on subject lines, you’re really working, if you do use words and you choose to do that as we would encourage you to, you’re looking at a cut-off of around four to seven words max for subject lines on mobile, so you wanna be mindful of that. So let’s look though in another example here, more emoji in subject lines.

Logan: So many more emojis. Yeah. So, yeah, this is what we wanna kind of dig into just briefly. So emojis are unicode characters. Unicode is just kind of a standardized way that people adopted of trying to make sure that, like, images, like, certain symbols all appear the same way on different operating systems. But despite it being kind of standardized, there is varying support for these things. And very much like HTML or CSS, that one mail client may not support it in the same way or interpret it in the same way. So, as a general rule, if you’re on OSX or IOS you’re good, you’re golden. If your recipients are primarily using those, you’re great because they have, since OSX Lion, they have universal support for emoji characters. If you’re on Windows it gets a little more nuanced. So you’ve got, if it’s on Windows 8.1 or above, you’re good. If it’s Windows 7 it has kind of limited support and if sadly, you’re on something previous to Windows 7, there are a lot of life choices we would encourage you to make, but that, you’re not going…

Jamie: But you can’t always control that.

Logan: You can’t always control that. Absolutely. And if you’re recipients are on them, and you’ll see that in other industries more particularly than retail, they don’t support those characters, so they will see that little square symbol instead. So it’s just about knowing your audience which is something that we hammer home again and again.

Jamie: Yeah. And I would say too from a content perspective, if you’re going to sort of look at things, and I will say from an email marketing perspective here at Emma, we do a lot of testing, we do a lot of split tests on our subject lines when we send information to you and we start, we test emoji. And honestly, a lot of the time the emoji subject line will win, and it’s just simply because you saw that inbox view. It’s quite simply stands out especially if I’m able to see them. However, if you’re not sure, if you don’t have the data, if you’re not positive or it’s more likely let’s say you send email out to a retirement community and it’s maybe less likely that they’re gonna have the hottest, newest devices, there are some best practices for emoji. First and foremost, what you’re seeing here I wouldn’t say is a best practice, this all-emoji subject line. You wanna make sure that emoji are never replacing a word that would make your subject line no longer have meaning.

So if it’s “I heart emoji you,” if that heart emoji is just a square you’re saying, “I square you,” and that doesn’t make sense. And so your subject line loses meaning. So if you are gonna use them, think about using them as a fun enhancement, may be at the end of the subject line, maybe at the beginning of the subject line, but you wanna be careful just to make sure that if those do get stripped out I still know what’s going on with this mailing here. But again, as a B2B brand it’s worth testing, it’s fun. Our brand voice lends itself to it and we have a lot of fun, and it’s worth a try, don’t be scared. It’s no longer like this is really the cutting edge, it’s kind of a fun one. And this gif, that we’re looking at here, we’re gonna get to gifs, but this is an excellent one and we’ll kind of dig into why here in a moment. So moving on. So you get someone to open it or you get someone into your world, what do you do now? What do you do now?

Logan: Well, Jamie, I think you start with a welcome series.

Jamie: You sure do.

Logan: You start at least with a welcome email. You wanna make sure that people know, that your recipients know that you noticed that they signed up. It helps kind of emphasize that feeling of importance, like, “It matters to me as a brand that you decided to give me your email address.” So here’s a lovely one that I got from ModCloth, a brand that we love. And there are a number of things I like about this, but just speaking specifically to the subject line. In a very few words, they capture both, there’s a plain-spokenness here like you know exactly what you’re getting. And also it has kind of a casual, like a personable feel, a little intro info. And so just in a few words that means that they’re carrying their voice all the way across that experience.

Jamie: Absolutely. And again, though, it’s not overly clever, it’s very direct and yet this is kind of a fun, whimsical brand or it can be, but I love it in this very first touch point, they’re just, it’s very clear and direct that, “Hey, this is a welcome to our experience.” Welcome note stats, if you’ve been to other webinars you might have heard these before, but a welcome note can actually increase long-term brand engagement by as much as 33%. So if I receive this versus brands that don’t send these, you know, you’re allowing your subscribers, you’re striking while the iron is hot. If you don’t send an automated welcome or you don’t get them into some sort of cadence that, you know, an expectation of what to expect from being on your email list, you’re missing a really golden opportunity.

The other thing about a welcome is that they actually are some of the most engaged with mailings. This is probably the most successful mailing you will ever send in your email program barring maybe some very hyper-specialized, targeted messages. On average, everyone regardless of industry, sees almost over, you know, between 40% and 50% open rates on these and incredibly high click through rates, sometimes more, you know, 30%, 40% click throughs, and that’s incredibly high industry standards or industry averages for just sort of a business as usual email can be around 20%, 30% sort of industry-wide. So, you know that you have a good opportunity to get in front of them here.

Logan: Absolutely. And kind of to that point, so they placed a really easy coupon here for me to use. So, since you already know that’s gonna be a higher engagement with a welcome email, that’s a great place to try and convert.

Jamie: Exactly, I love it. And so, a brand that gets this really well, who’s really good at email marketing, is Nike.

Logan: I think I’ve heard of it.

Jamie: And what they’re doing here, so we just mentioned welcome notes. So what ModCloth did really well and what Nike’s doing exceptionally well here is that they are actually using the welcome experience to segment already, like from the jump. So here on the left you see the plus means more, “Welcome to Nike” email, the one on the right has this, you know, beautiful woman holding products, “Nike at your service.”
The one on the left was one that my male colleague Jeff received. Jeff had downloaded an app. He’d, you know, gotten into, told them very specific, I mean, like, he told them, like his body mass index, like the a lot of data about Jeff, and it was a very specific interaction. I just sort of signed up on a page with women’s, you know, sort of running clothes or clothes that would, you know, they could make an assumption that perhaps these are the types of items I’m interested in purchasing.

So I received this email on the right, Jeff received this email that’s really about the app that he downloaded and kind of getting him to learn more about, “Hey, do you know that we have coaching and events and gear and all this good stuff?” And so, what we sort of point out here is that it’s important if you’re already doing a welcome note and you feel you’ve nailed that, if you really want to get granular with it, making sure that the welcome, because it is so important, matches exactly where I entered your world and has a very specific sort of flow and cadence to it. That can be incredibly powerful.

So if you know that I came to you from a certain page and it’s a 20% off, make sure that my welcome note reflects 20% off. If I maybe join your list from let’s say the sort of a form field on the bottom of your page about, you know, consulting services, maybe you send me a different a different mailing. But what he mentioned earlier is that welcome note, while that’s a great first step and we think everyone should send one, a series can actually do you a little bit better. So we’re gonna look at the series that I received. And so here you go.

Logan: Look at that lovely series.

Jamie: Look at this. And so there’s a couple of things that are really great about this. So, of course, there’s email number one, which I got immediately, then I few days later I get email number two, which is the one in the middle, and it’s really just sort of saying, “Hey, we’re gonna give you a gift, it’s sort of extending offers. It’s letting me know too that if I am part of this program and from this experience with the variables that I had when I signed up, I get free shipping. So I may not have known that, I may not have noticed that, so they’re using this welcome series to really just get really sticky information about their brand in front of me.

Logan: Yeah, they’re setting those expectations. They’re like, “This is the experience you can come to expect of us,” and building that relationship.

Jamie: Yeah, exactly. And a lot of B2B brands, you know, this is a fantastic step in the welcome series, maybe show me some social proof. Show me clients of yours that have had success, show me why I should care about your brand, and Nike’s doing a really good job with that here. And then this third mailing is really being a little bit bolder and trying to connect me with an expert, which inevitably I’m assuming if I get connected with an expert I’m probably going to make some sort of purchase with them. And this is something too that we see a lot of our B2B brands, really any brand sending a welcome series can sort of follow this formula. You don’t wanna ask me to do something crazy right out of the gate, we’re new friends. But by this third touch, I might know a little bit more about your brand, you might know more about me, and you might be a little bit more bold with that call-to-action.

Logan: Yeah. Using a series helps you build a relationship, build confidence and also kind of build that expectation of like, once I’ve gotten the second one, it seems reasonable to assume that you’d receive another one after that. And so they know to sort of expect it.

Jamie: Yeah. And to that point too, you know, if you’re in a welcome series and you say, “Hey, sign up for our 8-part series,” make sure you send an 8-part series. You’d be surprised. People do forget that. But anyway, some good tips for that first bit. But let’s say you’ve got them in there, they’re loving your content, you feel like you’ve really established a relationship, now you’re gonna you know, they’re opening your emails, you wanna get some great content in front of them.

Logan: That’s right.

Jamie: And so now we’re gonna look at one of my favorite sections, and this is an area that retail dominates.

Logan: Very much.

Logan: Great Gifs.

Logan: Or Jaunty Gifs.

Jamie: We respect both pronunciations of gifs of jif. So let’s hope right in. Or actually no, a few stats around gifs first. Gifs in email can be super powerful, according to Marketing Sherpa, they know a thing or two.

Logan: They’re very reliable.

Jamie: And this is industry-wide not just for retail. They can increase click rates by about 42%, which is insane, and conversion rates, this is not, I’m not misspeaking, by around 130% and revenue by 109%. This was in a study across the board. And that’s simply because, and we’ll look at them, they are super compelling, they draw your eye, you wanna click on them and they get some great results. So let’s hop right in. So, and you have to wait for this one. It’s very subtle. This is why we’re starting here. So, this example from Aarie, the animated gif is this little gray bar across the top. And I love it because it’s very utilitarian.

Logan: It’s very subtle.

Jamie: It’s very subtle.

Logan: And it really speaks to the point that when we think animated gifs, I think some of us still kind of hearken back to like GeoCities website days, you know, and flashing everything. And really, what gifs can be used for is simply summarizing or keeping multiple points of information kind of in one space. It’s a great use of space. And so this is a wonderful example of how you can use that spot which we see in so many emails, like it’s a tagline, it’s a banner, to consolidate some information rather than taking up more space needed unnecessarily.

Jamie: Absolutely. And another point is that this is one of the first things you see when you open that email. So by putting the gif there, it really captures your attention. I mean, Logan and I like to call it the lizard brain. Sort of on a subconscious level, if you see movement your eyes are drawn to that movement. And so anchoring that sort of above the fold, to use that newspaper term, and in that top sort of 20% of the mailing, you’re much more likely for someone just skimming and scanning to catch their attention with movement in that area. And you really want to anchor some of your most important information, of course, in that space. But we will look at some mailings that kind of defy that here in a moment. And one last thing to point out about this one is that this is a great use of video. When we say video in email we don’t mean the video is playing in the email, just simply layering a play button over a still image gets clicks. Wistia, which is a video hosting platform, found that you can actually increase your engagement by as much as 300% just by including, you know, that little circle with the triangle and if it signifies a video. So, you know, that content is powerful.

Logan: Absolutely. I’m not a math major but I understand that 300% would be…

Jamie: That’s a good percent.

Logan: It’s a good percent.

Jamie: It’s positive percent.

Logan: A positive percent.

Jamie: So moving on. I love this one. So Logan, why are we looking at this one?

Logan: Sure thing. MR PORTER, one, they have just a really lovely, clean look. I mean, to be honest, a lot of retailers use that kind of very clean look, but what I really wanna point out here is that use of a gif, one, is that it’s not the hero image, it’s not the most prominent thing used. It’s definitely below the fold. What they’re using it for simply is to consolidate visual information in a way. They could have taken up another, let’s say, what…

Jamie: Three rows.

Logan: Yeah, another three rows with images of these shoes, and it’s totally unnecessary. When instead they just nicely consolidated to that little block, and then you keep your email scannable and you’re not unnecessarily adding content when you don’t need to.

Jamie: And another thing that I love too is that really they’re repeating the same idea, they’re just offering that information, in this case products, in three different ways. So this is still focused, but you see that jacket twice, the jacket, you know, they’ve kind of editorialized it in the above the fold area, then you’ve just got these little buckets where you can kind of click on them and then it’s anchored by this cool gif that draws your eye up. So it almost kind of does the same thing that the last one did but it’s, you know, when you land on that gif, you almost look above it and it’s exactly, you know, no matter what you click you’re clicking where they want you to go, which is cool.

Logan: That’s right. It’s also a great example of being able to, when you’re doing a product-focused email, to feature it in different ways to see how people engage with it.

Jamie: Yeah, absolutely. And we’ll talk about some more call-to-action. I kind of, I got ahead of myself, I’m so excited.

Logan: We’re just so excited about this

Jamie: This is a really great example though of that, so. This one.

Logan: Rickshaw. Yes. Rickshaw Bagworks is a great company out of San Francisco. They handcraft all of the bags that they make. And a really big portion of that buying experience, my own laptop bag is one of their messenger bags, is you get to customize the colors, you get to customize the colors of the trim, and of the bag, the material and everything itself. And so, not only is this like an illustration which also stands out in the world of retail because so many of them are just actual product shots, which they do include lower in the email, but their, that changing color help showcase what is kind of one of the defining aspects of their brand, which is that customizability.

Jamie: Absolutely. And, you know, I think, not just in retail, but this idea of just an innovative use of imagery, that it is a hand-drawn illustration, I could see that working in tons of different spaces, not just retail. I mean, and it definitely gets your attention because it looks so vastly different than everything else that you’re seeing. So I think that’s very cool.

Logan: Very much.

Jamie: All right. Who else we got?

Logan: The Swacket, which is an absurdly fun word to say.

Jamie: Swacket, yeah.

Logan: So, this Under Armor email. So they’re using an animated gif here to showcase the versatility of their product. So the Swacket, as they say, combines warmth and comfort of a sweatshirt and the production of UA storm. So they’re saying like, not only is this something that’s activewear but it will also protect you when it’s raining, and the animated gif does a really good job of just sort of presenting that information.

Jamie: Exactly. If that weren’t moving you wouldn’t necessarily know that that was signifying rain, but the movement knocks it out of the park. Very good example. This one from Shinola. So Shinola, they sell watches, and what I loved about this gif is that, if the gif doesn’t animate for you, and you’ll see it here in a moment, it’s going a little slowly on this. But this frame, the Valentine’s Day collection Shop Now, if this doesn’t work in my Outlook, which Logan can walk us through that here in a moment, animated gifs work in the majority, a vast majority of email clients. There are only a few issues with Outlook. so walk us through that.

Logan: So if you recipients are primarily Outlook, like, 2007 through 2016, then they’re only going to see the first frame of a gif.

Jamie: Just that one.

Logan: They work with everywhere else. So the main point to take away from this is that if you’re going to use an animated gif, make sure, and you’ve got a call-to-action there or you have really important kind of…

Jamie: Like that?

Logan: ...information, right, that seems very important, include that in the first frame even if you repeat it in the last one since it’s going to loop anyway. That’s fine and it’ll flicker past. But if you know that Outlook is going to be one of the…

Jamie: A factor.

Logan: ...a factor. Thank you. Yeah.

Jamie: Yeah, absolutely. So, just a nice functional example here. And, you know, they could have just had, again, this is a great one for what you said. I love your term, consolidating visual information with a gif. I love this one, and a lot of these are Valentine’s Day because that is, fun fact, my favorite day for retail email in the entire year, more than Christmas. People just get really clever and pull out all the stops. So I love this one from LOFT because really the only thing that’s animated in this gif are the chocolates. So this is a really great example of playfulness with gifs. So we’ve shown you some sort of utilitarian options which are, you know, by design we started there because people do tend to think of gifs just as fun, but you can see they’re having fun here with a gif, which I really like.

Logan: That’s right. What we’re talking about here is just using the gif as an enhancement. If it works it draws the eye and it helps people engage more. And if it doesn’t work then no content is lost.

Jamie: Exactly, yeah. That 40% off, the buttons there at the bottom, those are not part of the gif. The only piece of it really, actually I’ll show you. Oh, no. I can’t. I tried to get fancy with the deck here. So, but basically you can move that gif away and nothing else is hampered by those buttons.

Logan: No content left behind.

Jamie: No, all right. So here we go. So this example from thredUp, which you just saw, is really great because what they’re doing, and I pulled it away so that you can see just the bottom half, again, like that LOFT example, is the actual gif itself. And what they do here that I think is really great is that when I open this mailing, if this doesn’t animate, as you’re seeing here on the right, again, nothing lost. But as an enhancement, what they’re actually doing is sort of meta, showing me what the experience is going to look like on my phone when I click through. So it’s almost like a sneak preview of what to expect once I take them up on this offer that they’re giving me.

Logan: Exactly. Setting those expectations is a great way of kind of creating that consistent brand experience.

Jamie: Yeah, absolutely. In this sort of method, you know, what they’re showing in that screen just happens to be a retail product, but this sort of tactic I think could translate really, really well to any sort of industry.

Logan: Exactly.

Jamie: Show me, especially if you’re trying to get them to the website or drive traffic there, show me what’s on the website when I get there, and that’s a great use of a gif. Oh, I love this one.

Logan: Yeah, it’s more ModCloth. Again, a brand that we love. And so, this comes from, you know, kind of a much longer mailing but this is… So if you’ve have product of any sort, you want to be able to see a tangible product, you wanna people to look at all sides of it. And this, particularly in fashion I think this works phenomenally well, but it works with any product that you could pick up and handle. And so they’re able to show all sides of this dress.

Jamie: Yeah. Or like if you were selling a home, you know, anything like that. Like, think of how fantastic this would be for, let’s say, a real estate email for instance. I think it’d be amazing.

Logan: It lets them explore the products. So that would be kind of the best use here, is exploring the product.

Jamie: Absolutely. And we see this really well in B2B especially if you have some sort of software interactive product, being able to show that in a gif like this is really powerful, sort of give me a preview, I love it. Okay. And we’ll round out our gif section. This is one of my favorite examples. This is pre-Valentine’s day. This is an actual email that I received from Greetabl. And you may be asking, what is Greetabl?

Logan: What is Greetabl?

Jamie: Interestingly enough, I did not know myself. I had gotten on the list. I think someone had suggested, they said like, “You’ll like it.” I kind of forgot what it was. I received this email and it’s scan, you know, very easy to scan. I wanna give my significant other all the feels. Today is the last day that it got my attention. I was like, “For what? I don’t wanna miss it. I don’t know, I don’t even know what I’m missing, I don’t wanna miss it.” And then I looked at this great gif, and it shows you exactly what a Greetabl is. It’s, this is the experience that my friend is going to have when they open the cool gift which is called a Greetabl. So you can customize the inside of the box, you pick a cute box, you pick from a few curated items that they supply in a couple of different categories based on your relationship to a person, you can put a personalized note inside of it, and all of this selection takes around five minutes to put this gift, and it’s very affordable, together.

But this email just told me that story, and I immediately knew what it was, and that I wanted it, and that was gonna be really easy and today was my last day to do it. And their follow-up was fantastic as well. We actually wrote a blog about it, so you can head to our blog and lookup Greetabl. They’re great. But this is a fantastic use of a gif. And to the point that Logan made in the last example, again, this would be an amazing way to showcase software or let’s say you sell something that is difficult to explain, a gif is a very, very great way to just take a snippet. Film yourself doing something and then turn it into a gif and show me.
Logan: Any product that has an experience attached with it, right?

Jamie: Mm-hmm.

Logan: And you wanna be able to showcase and that’s an important part of the experience that you want your recipient, your consumer to have.

Jamie: Absolutely. And so that kind of brings us really, I think, nicely into our next section. Retailers are very good at getting you to do things, just like you saw at Greetabl. So, and, you know, all email marketers, like we said, they can have a significantly higher ROI, but if they’re not designed let’s say in the best ways, it’s less likely that people are going to engage with your mailings, and gifs aren’t the only way to get people to do that, though they are pretty good. First one we’ll look at actually does have a gif. And I always say this incorrectly think, is it Bonobos or Bonobos?

Logan: I like to say it both ways, one after the other.

Jamie: Perfect.

Logan: Just to cover my bases.

Jamie: So this is a men’s fashion brand. It is actually almost strictly e-commerce, they actually do have new pop-up stores, but they started online and they, of course, mastered email marketing by sheer necessity I would imagine, and they do really, really well. So what I loved about this is that this gif is explaining something which is for them, a bit cheeky, fill in the blanks here. But they’re doing it by really telling me a story. You know, it’s a narrative. We’ll let you, again, figure it out. But the button that they’re using specifically is layered over that gif. If this gif didn’t animate, nothing’s really lost. This language on the button that is sort of centered in the middle, it is direct, it is first-person, and I’m curious what’s gonna happen on the other side of that button, especially because it is, you know, they’re selling like button-down shirts and that sort of thing. I know it’s gonna be work-appropriate.

Logan: It’s an imperative. And I, you know, again, they have very small text content, very direct, like, the button is nice and high up in the field of view, and then the gif just helps build that story.

Jamie: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s surrounded by a significant amount of white space even though it’s technically taupe space because of that background color, but we just mean is that that button is contrasting with the background that it’s on and that you can easily, it’s separated from the text above it and the tier below it so it stands out. And buttons are much easier to interact with on mobile devices. So that’s kind of another reason why we think they are excellent calls-to-action in a mailing. Speaking of, Postmates. This is great. So they took the button idea and they blew it up literally. That is a big button.

Logan: That is a large button.

Jamie: Yeah. So, you know, like we just said, from a mobile experience, and I know, Logan can kind of probably elaborate on some suggestions and recommendations we would make for mobile, but again, you know, this is also very focused. There’s one thing that they want me to do. This is very skimmable, scannable mailing. The donut just simply adds some enhancement and movement that makes me wanna read this, but I don’t have to read it word for word to get that. There’s a promo code that I get 50% off and that they’re wanting me to do something now. So, yeah.

Logan: Exactly. You know, kind of one way of defining email marketing is just prompting focus to action. And so they do that really well here. Now speaking specifically to the button, on the button size, so Apple would recommend nothing smaller than 44 pixels by 44 pixels as they’ve determined that’s the average human fingertip size…

Jamie: Surface area. Yeah.

Logan: ...surface area, but going larger than, that’s the minimum, and we wanna do more than just the minimum, don’t we Jamie?

Jamie: We do.

Logan: And so we try to… So going larger with the button and especially since it is the, aside from the gif at the top, it really is the color in the email, it’s going to draw the eye. And so making that nice and large and eminently touchable.

Jamie: Yeah, absolutely. So this is a great one. Fitbit.

Logan: Oh, I love this one.

Jamie: This is another great example, yeah.

Logan: Yes, very much so. So this is… What I love about this email, there are a few things, but one of them is that they are inviting you, this is to someone who already owns a Fitbit, so this is about kind of building an engagement with the person who’s already purchased the product and then they’re inviting you to tie your goals with their product. It doesn’t get much more personal than that. And so to be able to kind of build that kind of engagement with that, set an intention. And for people who are about tracking their steps and tracking their activity, they’re already fairly intentional people, right? Like so it’d be good. And then just to also note, they’ve got some really nice personalized content there about your total steps, total distance, and then kind of a secondary call-to-action, just to sort of see, like, maybe which one ties in better.

Jamie: Yeah. And I think this is something that could translate beautifully to a non-retail environment, again, to Logan’s point, especially let’s say you are a consultant and you have clients, by tying in their specific, if you have data about them, pulling that dynamically into an email, which is something you could do with Emma, and making it so that their goals are really your goals, and telling that story with an email, that’s a super powerful thing that you can do regardless of what you’re selling. This example, they’re selling shoes. Obviously, this is our customer, Peter Nappi. What I love about this is that you see at the bottom there, there are buttons and this email is doing two things really well. One, this email is profiling me based on probably data they don’t have about me. I received this email and I’ve never purchased anything from Peter Nappi. Perhaps I will. But I received this email and they sent me an email that had both men’s items and women’s items. I have a size six and a half, I’m probably gonna have to buy the women’s items regardless of my preferences.

And so what they’re doing is they’re just basically giving me two different pathways. And they have buttons there at the bottom that say, “Shop Men’s Sale, Shop Women’s Sale,” but what I think is really interesting is the use of imagery that sort of creates its own button. Each of those shoes, I’m actually probably gonna click on that product before I even get to the button. So in this case, with the hierarchy of the way this is built, there’s this great headline, it’s anchored with buttons so that they don’t lose me, but it’s really providing two sort of isolated, beautiful, clean, you know, images that are telling me exactly what they want me to do. And then based on what I click, let’s be honest, they can segment me. If I click, you know, consistently on the buttons that have men shoes, that probably tells them that I’m buying these for, you know, a reason whether it’s for myself or someone else, but that’s what I want and send me more that. So, it’s great. Oh, and then this email from Kendra Scott, she sells jewelry, you might be familiar with her. And I just loved this one because the call-to-action here isn’t “buy my products” necessarily though you do have really easy ways to do that and you have a discount, it’s really saying, “Hey, I wanna know more about you.” And I think that sometimes we all lose sight of what our goals are with our marketing and not really what our recipients goals are for our interaction with them. And that’s industry-wide.

And so, retailers to me are not a brand that I would think would do this the best, and by and large, you know,  I see a lot of great ones, but this is really nice just saying, “Hey, I want to learn more about you so that I can serve you more relevant information.” And when you send people relevant content, you can increase your revenue by like 18 times, I think that’s the going stat, I’ll have to look up the source on that. But you, know, it’s relevant content converts much higher than that sort of batch-and-blast, and this is just asking for that.

Logan: And just, I love the transparency of this is as well. Just that it’s being very upfront about why they’re wanting that information.

Jamie: And then this is a good one. This is from Rent the Runway, and what I love about this is that visually, it’s about one sale, these were sent on different days, but they kept increasing the discount on the clearance item. Email on the left is 75%, a few days later it was 90% off, and what I loved about this is that visually they kept it consistent. But they changed everything else. This is a really simple mailing. And this is great too because they’re selling tangible products, they’re selling dresses essentially, but there’s not a picture of a dress on this. So this is a tactic that literally translates to whatever you’re selling. And I love their language, “Make a run for it, get in there.” It’s super actionable, it’s super fun and no example that we’ve looked at or that we’re about to look at ever says “click here,” so I think that’s important to note. Casper. Casper sells mattresses, like home direct mattresses. Not a picture of a mattress to be found…

Logan: Not anywhere on there.

Jamie: this mailing. And I think, again, you know, if retailers are being that bold, you can too. And to me, this is a great example of something that can translate to a brand. This feels personal. It’s a valentine to me, and then there’s that simple button that says “fall in love,” and that just took me to a page with product, and I just think it’s a really nice reminder that you don’t have to hit me over the head with pictures of your product. You really can, you know, just make me feel special. It’s kind of a nice touch point.

Logan: Well said.

Jamie: Yeah. And same thing with Rue La La. What I loved about this is that Rue La La is sort of an online auction site. And again, they’re not showing any product. They’re writing me a letter from the President. So when I received this, I stopped in my tracks, and was like, “What’s going on? This looks important.” And so this is just a note that when you sort of set your intention of breaking up a cadence, not just sending me what you always send me, if you have special information, let’s say, this is really beautiful it was on Valentine’s Day, it was just basically saying like, you know, be nice to each other, which I thought was a nice sentiment, I’m more likely to be, to grow closer to your brand, and I just think it’s a nice reminder there for that as well.

And I know we’re running out of time. We’ve got a few more examples but, you know, when we think of retail I think we’ve looked at, Logan, and I were talking about this, there’s tons of really fun dresses and bright colorful things and backpacks. Walgreen’s as a retailer. This is, you know, buying contact lenses is not sexy, it’s a necessity.

Logan: I wish it was, but yeah, for myself. Yeah. And so, it’s, so this is just very upfront, like they do a really good job of featuring that product and knowing exactly what to expect, and keeping this email really simple and streamlined.

Jamie: Yeah. And again, you know, a lot of people, I think the argument on the line is that, “Oh, well retail’s fun.” It’s not always fun, but you can still follow these examples and these tactics and people necessary information but still have really nice mobile experience, really big-button, a focused call-to-action. I think that’s where most important thing to hit on all of these examples, have one focus and that is, you know, when you give people too many options they choose nothing. So I think that’s true regardless of what you do.

On content marketing. So, again, I’m a content marketing strategist. It’s kind of my job here at Emma. B2B brands do a lot of content marketing. Who isn’t a thought leader these days? And so content marketing is something that traditionally is not seen as a retail tactic, but because retailers are so good at this email thing, they’re actually kicking our butts in a space that we’re supposed to own. So, the majority, 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing in their strategies. Content marketing leaders, people doing it well, say that they experience seven, almost eight times more site traffic than people that sort of say that they’re not doing it well. So, people that identify as doing content marketing well are winning across the board, but especially in inboxes. And so, you know, we should, this is the healthy competition section. So, Harry’s, they sell razors, and I absolutely love this example, this gif is so delightful. They’re literally showing us how the razors are made in an adorable way. I love it though because they’re not trying to push product on us here at all.

Logan: Not at all. They’re just trying to get you to kind of engage with their brand to understand and to, you know, express interest in how they do what they do.

Jamie: Absolutely. And I love it too because it doesn’t necessarily follow the same button rules that we just hammered home. “Explore The Process” is a link but everything is sized rightly for mobile, it’s a very, very clean image, and you can click on that gif, which you likely will, and it goes to the same place.

Logan: There’s literally a person pushing a button on that image.

Jamie: Right, exactly. That’s great. And then Mouth, they sell sort of small-batch artisanal goods. I know that’s a lot, a mouthful, no pun intended, but I love that they venture into content marketing for their products. This is a lot of text for a retail email, and this is honestly very similar to a lot of B2B brands. But what I love about this is that their products are not often found in stores, they are direct distributors of artisanal products. And so they have taken a content marketing approach and are really leading with that because they’ve learned that their consumers like to learn about the products that they’re giving as gifts to others. So you see all of these tequilas or mezcals, they tell you a story about them, the region they’re from, what it’s about, and then down below they’re actually showing you recipes and things like that, ways to use their products. And this is just a fantastic example of showcasing the “how” and the “why” behind your products regardless of what you’re selling to really draw a reader into kind of your world. And then William Sonoma, this is kind of the last example, but they’ve done a phenomenal job here as well.

Logan: Very much, yeah. Here they’re tying kind of the experience of their product into their staff which they’re positioning as experts. And they’re, so they’re tying your experience of their product to this person, to the specific person who has ideas about how you can use it best.

Jamie: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that this, again, is something that we often see in B2B, but this is a great visual way to lay out this information, the small picture of the person, you can click to “Shop Now” but perhaps for you this would take them to your blog where, you know, Jamie, the bakeware guru has written a blog about something or what have you. So, just a fantastic example that hopefully sparks some good ideas of ways to do it, and healthy competition.

Logan: That’s right.

Jamie: And so in this section we’re gonna cover some different types of mailings that are super important. So, you’ve all seen in these reengagement campaigns. They are very, very powerful for taking data that you have, which is people that are not engaging with your brand, and using that data to then turn around and send an email that gets in front of them again. It’s a great way to refresh your list, it’s also a great way, don’t you forget about me, to just put your brand first and foremost, and it’s an excuse to reach out that is often overlooked but that literally anyone can and should be doing. PetSmart.

Logan: With, PetSmart, yes. So there’s some really nice things about this. One, is, they’re tying your experience of your pet with them. They’re kind of creating a mutual interest between you and your pup. And so that, and then they’re following so many nice design best practices, both in the use of, like the “Get Coupon” button, so they’re giving you an offer, and minimal text. I can scan this in five seconds and know exactly what to expect.

Jamie: Absolutely. And, Pottery Barn. Pottery Barn does this all the time. Quite frankly, I think they’re doing it maybe too much, but they always send an email that says, “We’ve missed you.” They gave me big savings. They take it a step further and they actually put my initials on this pillow. They are using some sort of software that’s pulling this information in, and this is quite literally putting me into this email, putting me as the recipient in it. It’s just a beautiful tactic that really anyone could use. This is where that, appending data you have. You can’t send these emails without some data, so chances are you have even more details about me that you could incorporate into this experience, and it’s really nice.

The Dessy Group, this is a customer of ours, and what they’re doing is really similar to Kendra Scott. They’re reengaging. They’re saying, “Hey, you haven’t engaged with us in a while. Perhaps that’s because we don’t have the right information about you. Maybe we’re sending you the wrong kind of content. And all you have to do for us to send you the right content is click one of these buttons,click Bridesmaid, Groom or Bride.” And so it’s another great example that if you are seeing a dip in engagement, if people are not, you know, opening your emails, this is a great thing to send. Obviously, theirs is product-based, but yours could be any number of things. So get the data you need.

This is a great one from Dollar Shave Club. They compete with Harry’s often, they do the same thing. What I love is that this is actually an automated email based on when they’re gonna ship my razors to me, and they say, “Your next box is gonna ship on 7/17,” but really what they’re saying is, “Oh, by the way, we’re gonna box up some stuff anyway, we might as well toss some more stuff into that box.” So it’s a great way to remind me of something but also show me why your brand is valuable, and this is something that translates really well with a nonprofit space especially for recurring donors. If you know that someone’s donor sort of date renewal date is coming up, send them maybe some content about why you’re nonprofit changes lives or send them something about a new building that you built on campus for alumni or something like that. It’s a really great way to serve more content based on those dates, and then finish what you carted.

Logan: It’s adorable.

Jamie: It is adorable.

Logan: Another email that follows so many of the design best practices that we’re talking about, kind of a leading, engaging image, again, illustration can be, can stand out sometimes even though we love photography. And then, again, easily scannable, I know exactly what to expect, nice big button and a playfulness that is totally on brand.

Jamie: Absolutely. And we have a final section but because we’re running out of time and because we’ve got so many great questions what we’re gonna do is we’re actually going to start taking your questions. And the last section was just some of our favorite emails, so this is sort of the bulk of the best practices that we wanted to get out there anyway, so maybe next time. Maybe we can put those in a blog for you.

Logan: Maybe I can be on another webinar with you.

Jamie: Maybe. So I’m gonna turn on our cameras here and stop showing our screen, reduce this, and we’re gonna hop into questions here, so. Okay. Hold on, technical difficulties here. So you take the first question. I’m gonna get us out of this thing here.

Logan: Sure thing. So, from Dana Elliot. Both Dana Elliot and Steve Worth both speak to talking about images and versus live text, and just kind of, some guidelines around that and why we recommend live text versus images.

As you’ve seen, like, retail goes really image heavy, and that’s… There are specific instances where that’s okay. The main thing is you don’t want any content lost. I would think that that’s the main point to put here. So if you’ve got important content in your images, just make sure that you’re using really descriptive all text. That’s also really important for accessibility reasons.

Jamie: Yeah. And image heavy emails, those are fun. Obviously, our brains actually process images 60,000 times faster than text, all human brains.

Logan: Not just…

Jamie: And yeah, and so you’re seeing that shift, again, because retailers read their data and I would, industry standard, when you send a more image heavy email, it typically gets a little bit of higher engagement. And so they’re probably, they learn that over time, they keep up with the Joneses. So you’re seeing that trend because it’s probably working for a lot of brands.

Logan: That’s right.

Jamie: So, let’s see here.

Logan: All right.

Jamie: We talked about emoji. So here we go. This is actually a great one. This is about subject lines. Josie asks, “Emoji’s in subject lines. Yes or no?” We went through that part. So I’ve done AB testing and open rates are pretty much even every time. What that means is, emoji’s probably not resonating with your audience. That’s not for you. That’s probably not for your brand. And I think that that’s a great illustration of what we brought up earlier. You know, we started testing it with our audience, lo and behold, and it was actually, we were kind of like, “This won’t work,” and lo and behold almost every time we’re sending something that maybe is a little bit more generalized and we add an emoji, if it’s really like less important, it’s not like, “Hey guys, there’s been a, there’s an important change to our software that you have to know about,” you know, we don’t just throw emoji into those. We pick and choose when we do it and when we do they tend to perform well. So we’ll continue to try it and then we’ll probably stop trying it if it’s no longer pulling out ahead or showing some results.

Logan: That’s right. I mean, the general principle here is, no matter what hard and fast rule we’re putting out there or best practice, test it for yourself. And if your recipients or the mail clients that you work with support what you’re wanting to do or don’t support, make your decisions based on that.

Jamie: This is good. This is from Kristen. “You’ve mentioned only having one call-to-action but a few of your examples show more than one. However, they are all to show now. Is that why is it okay in those examples?” Do you have thoughts, any thought?

Logan: I do. You have thoughts. Go ahead with your…

Jamie: We all have thoughts.

Logan: Yeah, we have so many thoughts.

Jamie: So I think, you know, and we didn’t get to hammer this home as much, we wanted to try and get it all in there, but on calls-to-action, when we say a focused call-to-action, that doesn’t necessarily mean one button. It really means that thematically in that email, what you’re wanting me to do has some harmony. It’s all either on the same theme or everything that I click out to in that mailing takes me to the same place. So there’s a couple different ways that can play. When we say, “Don’t have too many unfocused calls-to-action,” it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have three buttons, but they should have a theme. They should have a purpose, the goal of that email ultimately should be really what drives how you build those calls-to-action.

Logan: That’s right. You want a unified and coherent, a cohesive experience because you’re wanting to find out if what you’re talking about, whether it’s in section A, B or C, is driving to the same place.

Jamie: And I think the point of testing, and we actually just did a webinar about this last month, we’ve introduced some new testing tools, and it’s been really fun to sort of dissect and break out our best practices on testing for people. You know, when you are testing anything, whether it’s the subject line, the call-to-action, again, make sure it’s tied back to the goal. Why were you sending this mailing in the first place? If you’re testing subject lines, is it just out of pure curiosity or is it to say, “Will our audience like emoji?” That can be a goal.

Logan: That’s right.

Jamie: The goal with subject lines though almost always is increase engagements and opens. You want them to, you know, lift that, if it’s increasing calls to or testing calls-to-action is, you want to, you know, maybe your opens are great but you wanna actually get people clicking on the right thing in the mailing and taking items away. It’s like when you leave the house too much jewelry, take one piece of jewelry out.

Logan: Just take one.

Jamie: Edit, and you’re much more likely to get to the heart of what piece of the mailing resonates with your specific audience, I think.

Logan: Well put.

Jamie: Yeah. Oh, just a clarification. Can you repeat the size for mobile buttons?

Logan: Sure. So the minimum that you would want is 44 pixels by 44 pixels. But again, that’s the minimum. I would probably recommend going just a little larger than that, and particularly, like, if you have important information, information on there that you want people reading, like a button.

Jamie: All right. Let’s go back up to one we got beforehand. Okay, Julie. “Many popular trendy emails are B2C. We would love to see more of this in B2B, in a boring industry.” Me too. That’s exactly… I mean, I think just to reiterate, because I know when we do a topic like this people are like, “There weren’t any B2B examples.” And so we finally did a webinar that on purpose only had B2C examples because everything that we showed you today can translate. It follows best practices for email marketing. Retailers just happen to be doing that stuff really, really well, making database decisions, having clear calls-to-action, having really clear goals that tie back to their business goals, for them it tends to be a lot clearer. For you, it might be a little murkier, but you have a goal for your business even if it’s, you know, and it doesn’t matter? If it’s getting donations, getting more people to volunteer, those are goals and email can help facilitate those, and you can do that with gifs, you can do it with a big button, you know, all of this kind of things translate no matter what you’re doing, so especially B2B. All right. I think we’re out of time.

Logan: I think sadly, yeah.

Jamie: I know.

Logan: It’s been, it’s gone by in a whirlwind.

Jamie: It really has. Well, thank you all so much for joining us. I hope this was helpful. And again, we will send the recording to you. If you have any follow-up questions, feel free to reach out to us. You can reach out to us at Hi,, and we’ll make sure you get to the right person. So, thank you so much.

Logan: Thank you for your time.

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