Jamie: Hello, everybody. All right. Thank you so much for joining us for today’s presentation, Emma’s top email design tips for 2017. A little housekeeping before we get started if you’re just hopping on. To put your minds at ease, we will send a version of today’s webinar out to every single registrant. So if you need to hop off or you just wanna share this with a friend, you’re gonna get that in your inboxes as soon as we can get it to you. We got you covered. Also, wow, we have so many registrants for today’s webinar. So we have tons of questions that came in at registration and all that jazz, and we’re really, really excited about it. But please, we do welcome you to share as many as you have and we’ll get to them at the end.
We’ll get to as many as we can, but yeah, we have some record-breaking numbers of registrants here. To that end as well, if you get booted out and are unable to get back in, there’s only so many seats in the auditorium, the virtual auditorium. So it could be possible that the seat was taken. A way to sort of combat that, if you can plug in via ethernet and that should help with any connectivity issues and you possibly getting booted out. But again, we will send a recording, and we don’t anticipate a change in cabin pressure, yada yada, but just in case, I wanted to get that out there.
And you can also tweet at us @emmaemail using the hashtag #yearinemail, Y-E-A-R in email or just generally, @emmaemail. We’ll be looking at that and scooping up questions, comments as we go. So without further ado, introductions. I’m Jamie Bradley. I’m Content Marketing Strategist here at Emma, and I get to come in every day and learn more about email, talk to people about email, and hopefully inform our own email strategy with the things that I pick up along the way. And I am joined by the illustrious Logan Baird.
Logan: Well, hello, Jamie. Hello, webinar gentles. It’s always a great delaine to get to do one of these webinars with you. So yes, as Jamie mentioned, I’m Logan Baird. I’m the Design Services Lead. I lead our team of email developers and designers in crafting beautiful, responsive email templates for our clients.
Jamie: Absolutely. And as we head into the presentation, one last thing actually. We’re having a little bit of a thunderstorm here so if you do hear rumbles of thunder, it’s not…
Logan: Don’t be concerned for us.
Jamie: Yeah. Don’t be concerned. We’re safe, and there’s no, you know, I wish we were that with it that we had a little soundboard with sound effects, but it’s real deal thunder here in the south.
Logan: It’s true.
Jamie: All right. So without further ado, hopping right in. So talking about the year in design, what to expect, we would be remiss if we didn’t start here. So when we, you know… Up until the past few years really, I’ve worked at Emma for quite some time as of you, and we’ve watched mobile become a thing. We watched…I remember when it didn’t matter. I had my little flip phone, my razor. And now, mobile is such a piece of our day to day lives. We live and breathe on our phones. And naturally, we’re spending a ton of time in our inboxes as well. And these numbers are only trending up. Do you have a little of stat?
Logan: I think the last is 54% of the industry as a whole is opening on mobile first.
Logan: Significant number.
Jamie: Significant. Over half will experience your email first on their phones. And it’s almost kind of passé at this point to not consider designing with that space in mind and/or considering that space first. So really putting mobile ahead of how the experience will be when you’re on a desktop and so on.
Logan: Yeah. And well, we know that we’ve talked about this before. The reason we keep reiterating it is that we still see so many non-mobile optimized designs. As part of my role, I can help people transition over from other ESPs to Emma. And so part of that is going through a design audit of their existing campaigns and materials, and it is really surprising to me now in 2017 even how many times I still run across non-mobile optimized designs.
Jamie: Absolutely. So I’m gonna get real for a second. If you’re not considering mobile, if mobile is not an ingrained piece in your sort of email marketing planning, you’re behind. And so hopefully though you’ve tried it, you’re getting your ducks in a row, and we’re gonna look now at some examples that we think really highlight what the value is and just some nice tips. Because not all mobile responsive email is created equal. It’s catching up, so there’s a little bit of a lag. So these two examples, email on the left is a good email. Email on the right is not as good as the email on the left.
And the reason being the email on the left is doing a few things really, really well. It’s a nice one-column design. Actually, they’re both one column, so MAC got that right. But it’s a nice one-column design meaning that it’s not three little spots, three little strips, or two little columns or what-have-you. Also, they’ve got this nice logo at the top with their wordmark. It’s beautiful branding right out of the gate. All of the sorts of headlines and subheaders in this email are right-sized really for mobile readership. The box that the text is in contrast with the background. It’s easy to read. And all of the elements they want you to interact within this email kind of look like big old buttons.
They’re really sort of tantalizing you to click further and experience this email. And so I know on the sort of text front, the email on the right, that’s really where it’s falling short. Other than the don’t wait, it’s virtually impossible to read this email on your phone. Mobile was not in mind in that space. So what is our current recommendation there?
Logan: Sure. So I mean for mobile, I would not consider less than 15 pixels for text on mobile. Ideally 16 or more really. So one of the ways that the one on the left stands out, the Poncho email, is…the two things that come to mind are legible and parsable. Not only can you read all of that text really easily, but you can read it at a glance. That seems really important, and it is really important. So they clearly had what it will look like on the screen in mind whereas for MAC Cosmetics, I mean, a line that you are a fan.
Jamie: I love them. I love them. I’m wearing Mac today which I shouldn’t say because you’ll see my face later and maybe that’s not a good endorsement but…
Logan: It was clear that they never thought about how this would look on a small screen not only for the text, but their button is very small, and those social icons at the bottom. Nobody’s gonna be able to pick those out with a fingertip. So you want to make sure that all of those icons are 44 pixels by 44 pixels is the smallest that we would ever recommend to make sure that they’re still easily tappable.
Jamie: Exactly. So before and after. So it’s kind of where we’re gonna move next. So essentially, our next email, there’s quite a bit of a lag. Sorry here guys. We’ll wait. This next email is great. You’re gonna love it.
Jamie: There we go. So we’ve got an example here. We have a client called Visit Philadelphia. It’s the Convention and Visitors Bureau in Philadelphia. Imagine that. And they came to us, and they were coming from another ESP. And one of the first things right out of the gate is we sort of analyzed what they were sending. This isn’t a bad email. The email on the right is obviously the sort of desktop view, the email on the left is clearly the mobile view. And there’re some things…sorry. Left and right. But there’re some things about this that are nice.
Visit Philadelphia has beautiful photography. They have really awesome things to talk about, fantastic events. It’s a fun brand for them to market. And so we were able to sort of sit down with them and say, “Hey, with just a few small tweaks and iterations, you guys can really take this to the next level.” So Logan, will you walk us through sort of what elements here with this email sort of needed improvement?
Logan: Of course. So I mean this really is that kind of classic newsletter that we saw for so long and that a big portion of that is you’ve got a lot of small articles. You’ve got that two-column arrangement. But if you look at it, the first word that comes to mind is busy, is very busy. And frankly, those of us who are recipients, we are too busy to try and make our way through all of that. So you’ve got a lot of text links, you’ve got the Read Mores are also text links, you’ve got very small images, and, of course, not optimized for mobile at all. Which means that somebody’s pulling that up on their phone and half your content is already cut off which is just unfortunate.
Jamie: Right. So we sat down with them, we consulted, and we landed here. And just gut check of seeing this email versus the one, you kind of…when they’re side by side, it’s like, “Oh, this just feels better.” This is, as Logan said, parsable, easier to digest. There’s also some other really great things from a just content curation standpoint, what they’re asking you to absorb. This email is still really lengthwise just as long as the previous mailing, but instead of trying to direct you to 60 calls-to-action, which is what they were doing in the previous mailing, really they just narrowed it down to about 10 to 15.
So from a just user experience standpoint, Logan can talk to the design, but from a content standpoint, you’re giving your reader less friction with this mailing but still giving them tons and tons of value and just making it a lot clearer for them to land on your site. Which is ultimately what you want them to do because that’s when they can stumble upon the other 100 things that are going on in Philadelphia.
Logan: That’s right. So the first thing that I felt when I was looking at this design as opposed to the previous is it feels like my brain has a little more room to breathe. And so there’s some really notable and great things that they did here. One is that they…, so you see there at the top, the 20 awesome things to do over Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia, which, who doesn’t want to know that?
They just stuck with a headline and then a call-to-action. They didn’t need an article lead-in even. They know that if the headline is sort of enticing enough and you’ve got a strong image, that’s really all they needed in order to draw people in. And you don’t have to give them more information that their brain is trying to process at that point. So I think going with that strong image, strong headline, call-to-action is so focused and streamlined. So we love that.
Jamie: And they have a button. And when they moved from non-mobile optimized, not as friendly to this new friendlier version, their clicks increased by about 20%. So immediately saw some value there in what they were doing. So as we move on to the next section, obviously we’ll not hammer. We’re gonna weave mobile throughout this presentation, so we started there. But when we talk about really design, it’s nice to take a step back. Email does not live in a vacuum. You absolutely can’t just design your emails in total isolation. Ultimately, you want people to experience your brand and experience…have the same experience with your brand whether it’s in the inbox, on your website, in person and the best brands are really nailing this.
And so we’re gonna move into a section where we’ll really talk about what’s happening before, during, and after in an email design workflow that feels really cohesive. So we’re gonna start here. This is a brand called Frank and Oak, absolutely love them. They’re a retail brand. And what you see here, kind of to walk through, this is a snapshot from their website. When you land on their homepage, you’re essentially greeted with this fun banner. There’s a sale. It’s got this lovely sort of thermometer. It’s very in line with what they do. And then you’ve got obviously this content here about the new men’s collection and most importantly, that blue area at the bottom is their sign up form.
It’s a call-to-action. It’s what we would call a banner style sign up form. And you’re going to start seeing these more and more and more on websites because they are outperforming pop-up lightbox forms significantly. And there are a lot of things that I love about this. First of all, you know, it allows you as the user when you land on this website to still interact with content. I’m able to still see their brand. They’ve just sort of reduced the window in which I can do it. So if I’m really stubborn and I don’t wanna close out, which I do sometimes, I mean you can still experience the website. You can still see all of the content there. But I’ve just got this nice little call-to-action at the bottom, this 15% off just enticing me. And there’s other things that you pointed out that you liked about it, the…
Logan: Sure. Yeah. So the Yes is already selected, so it makes it easy. I don’t have to give too much of a choice if I do want to save 15%. And then, of course, like the “No, I’d rather pay more,” it’s a little sassy.
Jamie: Yeah. And they can get away with that.
Logan: Yeah. I’m sure. And that’s part of their brand voice that they have cultivated. Let’s take a look at some of the…how this translates over into a cohesive email view.
Jamie: Yeah. I sign up, yes, I want to say 15%. I want an email, and I start getting emails like this. And obviously, what do we see? It’s the same exact element that was horizontal on the previous page, now just in this vertical, adorable, fun GIFt thermometer. And this email is really powerful. And I think that this really illustrates a point where you don’t, again, have to have too much going on. You don’t have to have too many elements. It actually is a benefit sometimes to go with this sort of minimalist route and keeping it consistent.
Logan: That’s right. Yeah. So what I love about this is that one, so while they do have their branding, their logo at the top, part of creating that cohesive experience is the page you were just on had this graphic as well, had this color scheme. And so they’re tying that in so that you’re creating like the seamless experience from site to email. It’s using an animated GIF which we know, of course, converts really well because we just love our little mammalian minds, just love a little bit of action and movement happening there. It catches our eye. And then it’s just so simple. Winter price drop, you’ve got the price like the low price, and then shop.
Jamie: Get me there. So then I click to shop the sale, and I land…
Logan: On a page.
Jamie: ...on a page here. I land on this page, and there it is again. Even though I’ve clicked through from a mailing that still had that thermometer motif, they put it there. They still put it at the top because it lets me know that I landed in the right spot. I mean, obviously, I’ve landed in the right spot because they linked to it and this is “the right spot” for where they wanted me to go. But as the consumer, I’m able to say, “Oh, hey. This is the same. I’m in the right spot on this website.” Also, a thing to note is that the buttons on this page are orange just like in that previous email. They don’t have orange buttons on every page of every product on their main site. So I think it’s really nice that they carry those elements over.
The other thing that I think is really, really fantastic is that I actually, this is an experience I had, I entered Frank and Oak’s email list from a page on their site that was announcing when they first had a women’s line. From now on, every email that I get from Frank and Oak lands me in the appropriate section based on my sort of sign up history or my purchase history with them. And I think that’s really important because when we talk about personalization which we’ll sort of dig into with some other examples coming up, personalization is so much more than just putting my first name in the email. It really is taking what you know about me and making sure that I’m landing in a spot that makes sense. Obviously, I’m more likely to take an action if I’m in the right place.
Logan: Of course.
Jamie: And so great design is as much about the strategy behind the pictures that you’re seeing. It’s not just the graphics.
Logan: Right. It’s about the information that’s presented. Whether that information is graphics which create a cohesive kind of aesthetic experience or it’s the information about that personalization that ties it in. Like an acquaintance knows your name but if you’re trying to build a relationship with your clients, you’re gonna want to know kind of their wants, and needs, and their interests and that’s usually important.
Jamie: Yeah. Absolutely. So I think this brand nails it. And just because this is a retail brand, this is still applicable no matter what you do. So to move on, our third big trend, I would say, is also something that we talked about a ton, but it remains to be really powerful, and that is the use of videos and GIFs in email. And so we’re gonna look at some couple of examples of people nailing that. We’ve already seen a good GIF but yeah, so let’s hop to it.
Logan: Yeah. Well, and so video click-through rates improve by more than 300% and sharing increases more than 50% with the addition of video instead of like a regular graphic.
Jamie: Which is crazy.
Logan: Which is… yeah. So these are stats. We’ve known for a while that this is the direction that we’d want to push people, but now we have so much more data to back that up with, right?
Jamie: Yeah, absolutely.
Logan: Like that seems really important. So we’re gonna take a look here. All right. Charity: Water, one of our favorite Emma clients. We love you all though.
Jamie: Yes. No. And they’re doing some things really, really well. And what I love about this, first and foremost, this is a “Thank you for being part of our story.” It feels nice. It’s creating a great experience. And then they take that a step further by making it really personal, making a message from the founder, Scott Harrison, and a video is an amazing way to convey that. So obviously they had that resource. They made this video, and email is a fantastic way to deliver that to me. So they’ve put the video sort of down a little bit in the mailing. They set up why, sort of the experience I’m gonna have at saying thank you. And that video is really the main call-to-action here is they want me to go land on their site and see that. And you can talk more about sort of the design of it for sure.
Logan: Of course. As Jamie mentioned, so they made the video, the call-to-action where they could have easily made that a button as well, and we know that buttons are fantastic. But you’re wanting…they talk a lot about story with Charity: Water and their brand. And so a video is part of how they tell their story, and the people who are getting their emails are used to wanting to see what they’re doing, what’s happening. Also really important to note here is that they created a static image here that links out. So when we’re talking about video, including video in emails, we’re not talking about embedding video. Like that’s still… the client support is still iffy enough, and you’ll not be able to track those click-throughs which you need. That’s the data that you want. So this is just creating that nice still graphic, and we’ll talk about some other ways of enticing with video.
Jamie: Yeah. Well, and I was gonna say too just to sort of clarify. When we talk about client support, really we mean that it’s accessible no matter where you’re viewing it, the environment. So in Mac, Mail, Outlook, wherever it might be.
Logan: A static image as a call-to-action will work anywhere that somebody doesn’t have images turned off in which case you always use all text. So that as opposed to embedded video which has much more limited support in those common email clients, right?
Logan: All right. We’re gonna jump right along here and talk about some…
Jamie: We’re gonna look at more GIFs. So this is an example actually that we sent. We host a conference in the spring every year in April. We’re doing it again. Come and join us, Marketing United. I had to do it. Sorry. Shameless plug. But when we concluded this past year’s conference, we wanted to basically make a nice video that was a save the date, a rehashing of the event that we just had sort of piggybacking on the excitement of that. And we wanted to target people who had just attended and say, “Hey, look how cool this video is.” Relive the magic basically. So clearly, video is the best way to do that. For us, we anchored the top part of the mailing with that video.
Logan: Audio is out.
Jamie: I am so sorry. We lost some audio there.
Logan: Okay. We’re back.
Jamie: All right. We’re back guys. So I’ll start. I’ll back up a little bit. So this is an email that we sent for our Marketing United conference, and the goal of this email was really to get people who had just attended excited again about the conference that they just attended. So a video was an amazing way for us to convey that. We were fortunate to have those resources on hand, etc. We made a video. And because that was sort of our main headline, instead of having a headline above that, it was the video. We wanna lead with some excitement, with some visual interests. And also if I attended this event which was the audience, I will recognize this scene, this still. I was in that room.
Logan: It’s familiar.
Jamie: It’s familiar to me. Then we have a button. As Logan said, buttons are incredibly powerful versus a single text link mainly because of the rise of mobile, and just the fact that it’s so much easier to interact with a button than it is with a text link.
Logan: And visually, it just stands out, right?
Jamie: Yeah. Absolutely.
Logan: If you’re trying to make your content parsable and you wanna make your call-to-action stand away from your content so that people can focus on it, it’s just visually different. That’s important.
Jamie: Exactly. It’s like a little corral around that language there if you look at it. Also, the language on that button is first person. It’s “Yep, count me in.” It’s not, “Submit here,” or something like that. It seems personal, warm. And most significantly, the animated GIF at the bottom, you know, this to me is an illustration of a really useful way for GIFs to happen. When we talk about animated GIFs often, I think of Beyoncé. and cats, and funny GIFs that I see online.
Logan: Which we share a lot here…
Jamie: Which we do.
Logan: ...like full disclosure. But this is a really useful way of doing it. I think that one of the best ways that you can use animated GIFs is to consolidate visual information. And all of us have received, I think, emails that have line upon line of sponsor logos and I get it. I get it why people do that.
Jamie: Sure. You’ve gotta get the sponsor’s love.
Logan: Right. Because we do love our sponsors.
Jamie: We do.
Logan: But this is just such like a more compact way of doing that. And basically, it’s supported everywhere except Outlook. But as opposed to like, as we talked about earlier with video, video is only supported about 58% of email clients according to our very trusted friends at Litmus. But animated GIFs, not only are they supported almost everywhere except for Outlook but now that Microsoft has partnered with Litmus and they’re getting feedback on that. I think we can say with some confidence…
Logan: Yeah. That they’ll end up supporting it down the line.
Jamie: Absolutely. And a good thing to point out though is if the GIF is blocked by Outlook and you have a specific call-to-action, let’s say like a discount on the GIF, make sure that that’s the first frame of your GIF because it will still show up as a static image in Outlook. So if you’ve got something, that last frame is something really punchy that you wanted to reveal, just put it up at the front when you’re designing that. All right. So video and GIFs. We’ll get off of our video and GIFs box here, and hopefully, it won’t mute us again. Now, you know, we just touched on buttons but really calls-to-action in general. We’re not doing this for our health. We are sending these emails not because it’s fun but because really, we have a job to do.
We have something, some goal attached to any sort of email marketing message that we send. And if you don’t know your goal, that’s really the first place to start. None of these design tips are going to be impactful if there isn’t focus to what you want that mailing to achieve. So we’re gonna look at some examples of really nice purposeful calls-to-action. But first, we’re gonna look at an example that needs some improvements quite honestly. So this is, if you’ve attended webinars before, this might be familiar when I talk about it often, and it has a happy ending. I’ll spoil it all the way.
Logan: And you have a very personal connection to this, don’t you, Jamie?
Jamie: I do. Yeah. This is my… I drive a Yaris, and I received this email. And it’s, “Jamie, experience the world of Yaris ownership.” Which is awesome. That sounds stellar cool. I do that every day as I drive to work and it doesn’t sound that exciting. But then I looked down at the bottom of the email, nothing about this email has anything to do with owning a Yaris besides the fact that they put that data field in there and they threw a Yaris at the top of it. In fact, they’re asking me to buy a different car, looking for an SUV. I mean they’re trying to sell me three different types of cars essentially and then also telling me that I lose my keys which I don’t.
Logan: I know. It feels a little judgy.
Jamie: So when I received this email, I was like, “Wow, there’s a lot going on here.” And as a result, I didn’t click through to any of this. Also, the first CTA is watch video. I honestly… Logan pointed that out earlier. That’s the first time I’ve ever noticed that that was like call-to-action and I’ve looked at this email a lot. So obviously, there’s a better way they could have visually represented that.
Logan: It’s a busy design.
Jamie: It’s busy.
Logan: It’s a busy design, and I think that you will find that one of the things we certainly propose here from our point of view is keep things streamlined, keep things simple. None of us has time to sort through busy stuff in our inbox. We just don’t. And so given the opportunity, we’re always gonna point you in that direction. So here, it also…like I really…we don’t have a mobile view of this, but I don’t know what this would look like on mobile. And if you’re going to have…like if you’re gonna use a button as a call-to-action instead of an image which they do here, then you don’t want that button to be superimposed over the image because that just makes it busier and harder to pick out. The whole point of a button really is that it…
Jamie: It stands out.
Logan: It stands out. It’s set apart, right?
Jamie: Yeah. Absolutely. And they’re also, I was gonna say one thing that this is also doing, there’s a cognitive phenomenon. I just want to be able to say that.
Logan: Tell me all about this cognitive phenomenon. I wanna decide too.
Jamie: Called choice paradox and we’ve all encountered it. I encounter it maybe not every night but when I’m binge watching maybe an Amazon or a Netflix show, or I’m trying to pick a new show. There’s so many options.
Logan: It’s difficult.
Jamie: There’re so many options that I end up choosing nothing, and that’s what’s happening here.
Logan: That’s a sad story.
Jamie: Yeah. I know. I build a queue rather than watch shows that’s neither here nor there. So I’m happy to report that we’re gonna move on from my Netflix behavior and look at what Toyota is sending now. So that email was older. Now they’ve got it together. Someone there at Toyota, they have the right intent. They wanna use their data in smart ways, and they’re doing it. So the email on the left is saying, “We miss you. We hope you enjoy your ride. Hey, by the way though, you haven’t brought your Yaris in a hot minute to get serviced.” Here’s two red buttons that are valuable that are related. I can schedule service or look at coupons that also land me on a page where guess what? I can schedule service. And the colors are nice and contrasting.
Also, I think it’s interesting. I don’t think it’s probably just because Toyota’s brand colors are red and white as you’ll see in the other example but they want me to do something that kind of has a timeline, and it’s a little bit more urgent. And so that red is sort of like, “Ooh…”
Logan: Danger will [inaudible 00:27:58].
Jamie: Yeah. Danger. Danger. Your car is gonna explode, Jamie, without being mean in saying it. So I think it’s…
Logan: It’s nice that they don’t say that out.
Jamie: Yeah. Because it would terrify me. But anyway, and it’s just a really, really nice example. And then the email on the right, now they’re trying to sell me the new car. Those are two very different things. One is trying to get me to take care of the one I already have, and then they can sell me one later. Maybe I got this email too because I didn’t bring my car in to get serviced. They’re like, “Your car is going to explode.” But as you see, there are some visual differences. The button, the hierarchy. The buttons are at the bottom. It’s a lower commitment call-to-action. I’m less, let’s be honest, likely to upgrade my Corolla via an email but this plants the seed.
This is something, if I do interact with this email, they can nurture me with more pointed CTAs about upgrading. And it’s just a really, really nice example of smart segmentation, tailoring content in smart ways, and really putting those calls to action in the right places.
Logan: That’s right. Yeah. Splitting up the content here seems so key. Before that previous email, they were trying to cram all of their content into one area. And what that led to was an email that didn’t feel focused. And so along with streamlined simplicity, focus is going to be something that we are just gonna hop on until the cows come home. I don’t actually know what time that is. I didn’t grow up around livestock.
Jamie: Check your local listing.
Logan: But I hear that’s a thing that people say. But splitting up that content, you really like send one, send the other, see how people respond and then you just get so much smarter when you realize like what people are showing interest in.
Jamie: Absolutely. So we’re gonna look now at a customer of ours that does this really, really well. And so we work with SoulCycle. It’s a fitness institution really. Very, very popular, and they just send fantastic emails. SoulCycle is doing some really, really cool things. I’ll let Logan walk us through exactly what, you know, the sizing of these elements and why it’s so impactful. But this just looks like a good experience.
Logan: It’s a very dynamic look to the content. So one is they’re using a lot of different shapes. They’re using that kind of their font usage. It’s all very on brand for them too because they’re kind of a little edgy there. They’ve got their branding kind of at a slant, and the way they’ve kind of offset it left to right. So while this is an image heavy email, like we know that, we recognize that. But there’s some reasons that they are including that imagery. We know that one, 80% of people are only scanning. So giving them like strong visual information is a way of like hooking them past that initial open. And also, we know that the brain processes images 60 times…60,000 times, I dropped a zero there, faster than text. And that’s not just like consumers, that’s not just shops, that’s just…
Logan: That’s just humans, and we’re all human. So you are just so much more likely to capture attention when using that. And as you see kind of on the mobile, so you start with Joshua, and Joshua is very striking. He’s wearing some very interesting things. But then, you start to think like, “What will Willie wear?”
Jamie: I wanna see.
Logan: And it draws you down. We wanna know. We wanna find out. And so just how they size that so that you have just the next bit of visual information to draw your eye down. And then the Shop Now button is at the very bottom which over on the left is the desktop view. On the mobile actually, that Shop Now is much larger and shows up really well.
Jamie: Absolutely. And again to Logan’s points, I do… what is Willie gonna wear? I don’t know. They don’t have to put paragraphs of text in this because they’re trying to sell clothes. If you have some strong visual information to convey…
Logan: We say, use images.
Jamie: Try it out.
Logan: Utilize that revolutionary.
Jamie: Great and simple. We love it.
Logan: That’s good. All right. Well, moving right along…
Jamie: Yeah. One of the biggest sort of trends, we touched on it in the previous section, is really taking the data that you have. Email marketing is one of the best ways to not only get the most impactful data about your customer’s needs, wants, interests. It’s also a very impactful way to put that information… turn around and put that data back in front of them in really meaningful ways. And one way, not just pulling in images or putting my name in it, one way to really do that is to take that visual information you’re wanting to convey and making one email that is dynamic. And so dynamic content is what we’re gonna talk about next.
Logan: Let’s take a look at one of our clients.
Jamie: Let’s take a look. So the Escape Game for those of you who don’t know, it’s where they lock you in a room, and for fun, you try to get out of that room.
Logan: That sounds terrifying, Jamie.
Jamie: It sounds like a panic attack, but I’m told it’s very fun. And fun fact which I will drop in here in a minute, I didn’t know there was a mission to Mars here locally.
Logan: Oh, goodness.
Jamie: That might get me to do it. That sounds fun.
Logan: I would go on a mission to Mars with you.
Jamie: I would do a sexy Jewel Heist game. But the email, let’s go back.
Logan: Let’s talk about that for a minute.
Jamie: We can talk about our plans later.
Logan: So our design team created this design and developed it for them. And so we took…we created a single template, and then we used dynamic content tags that work within Emma, although many ESPs offer this, to be able to send the correct graphic depending on the geographic location of the person receiving it.
Jamie: And there’s a general option as well if we, for some reason, don’t know where you are or that sort of thing which is nice. But it’s also interesting to note about this. This is also automated. So they get my information, they’re thanking me, and I think…I don’t know the cadence. I think it goes out maybe a day later. They’re thanking me for coming and completing one of the games and having fun here. And what I love about that is that they’re essentially just asking me to buy again. And the visual element that’s most exciting is the one that I pointed out earlier which is that mission to Mars, Gold Rush, Heist, that little block at the bottom.
I’ve already done a game. I may not know that I have multiple options and/or I may not know that I…I didn’t actually get to see inside the heist room. That little sneak peek tells me that might be kind of fun. And so they make it really, really simple for me to understand just visually why I would wanna come back and do it again. And also, they’re capitalizing on that fun. Like I just had a blast with my team or my friends, so the timing of this is really, really great. The other thing that I love about it as well is that it’s super scannable. I recognized the National Skyline right there. I know that building.
I also see FallFun which I point that out because that’s not a spacing error. I think that at this point, and I feel this way and we chatted about this before we hopped on here today. Seeing words sort of squished together like that in things, we now think of hashtags, we think of promo codes. There’s some sort of visual signifier that I’m gonna get a deal. I can book now, and I don’t have to read any of that text to know exactly what they’re offering me.
Logan: Yeah. And that’s what I love about this is that it is not dependent at all on people being able to read through the text in order to get the gist of what people are saying. Like you see this which scans as like a promo code of some sort. It’s in the same color as the call-to-action. And then you’ve got the featured games below it saying like, “And these are the things that you could book.” So while they have text which is helpful and they bold like some I think nice bit of that text so that you know what you’re getting, none of that is necessary, I think, to even prompt people to action. So that, to me, is the element of a strong design, is that it doesn’t depend on people having to scan through everything in order to get it.
Jamie: Absolutely. And another point to this, we actually just chatted with him yesterday, and they’ve actually driven 150 repeat bookings, and they just implemented this strategy. So it’s working for them. They’re pumped about it. So it’s really, really, you know… I’m happy to report that.
Logan: Maybe you and I will be 151.
Jamie: I know. Yeah.
Logan: It could be.
Jamie: Let’s go.
Logan: All right. Let’s take a look here at another one of our clients.
Jamie: Yeah. And so this is ecobee, and they make a smart home thermostat. And so there’s some really cool stuff happening in this mailing. I’m gonna actually let Logan kind of walk us through it because his team was really instrumental also in helping them with this.
Logan: Yeah. So this was a design that ecobee brought to us and then my team developed it. So giving good content, I wanna particularly draw your eye to that green block in the middle because that is the one that we coded in using a lot of dynamic content tags. And so that 74, the 32%, even the text around that are all dynamically populated based on information that they have. And that’s a huge deal because it makes that email very personable. Also, the information that they are choosing that they designed to display is information that affirms people’s choices in purchasing the product like “You saved this much money.”
Jamie: Right. So it’s not only neat that it’s personalized to me. It really is telling me, “Hey, we also care. We know this much information about you.” And there’s a stat actually you can see up there at the top. It says, “61% of consumers feel better about companies that send content instead of just offers.” So sending custom content, sending something that is actually gonna hit relevant content, drives more revenue. We have a stat down there for that. Receiving this lets me know ecobee actually is paying attention to their users and their consumers. And they wanna not just mine data for me, they wanna turn around and actually give me some immediate value there. And that builds brand trust, and loyalty, and all kinds of great things.
Logan: Exactly. That 18%... Oh, 18 times more revenue.
Jamie: Eighteen times more revenue than broadcast emails.
Logan: Really exciting. All right. Well, we’re gonna jump in to looking ahead a bit.
Jamie: Get our crystal ball out. We’re gonna look at the future.
Logan: I love our crystal ball.
Jamie: I know. We’re gonna look at the future here.
Logan: That’s great. So interactive email design is something that we have seen trending upwards over this last year, and we’re gonna see, I predict, a lot of it this year. Some of it better, some of it worse but we’re gonna see it a lot. When we talk about interactive design, just to make sure we’re being clear around that. What we mean is that the email has elements that you can click on or scroll around and that affects other elements within the email without leaving that screen. So it’s creating an experience onto itself. Like that seems really important. And so we’re gonna take a look at some of our favorites that we have seen and talk a little bit about what we find to be effective about each of those.
Jamie: Absolutely. All right.
Logan: All right. So Burberry, oh, Burberry.
Logan: It is luxurious, isn’t it?
Jamie: It is. It is.
Logan: So this is definitely one of our favorites kind of across the email geeks community. And so it uses an animation there which of course is going to draw the eye. But then, it has this really great, very streamlined way of introducing you to this experience of the Scarf Bar. I didn’t even know Scarf Bar was a thing…
Jamie: I didn’t either.
Logan: But now I want to do it all the time. So I think I’m gonna pick a classic.
Jamie: He’s a classy guy.
Logan: Thank you.
Jamie: Because it brings out your eyes.
Logan: Thank you. You’re so sweet. You got my initials wrong.
Jamie: Well, you know, two out of three.
Logan: That’s okay. Yeah. That’s fine. This was actually personalized to show the initials of the person who received the email who I’m going to call Jamie Bradley. And so what I love about this is one, it allows people to experience shopping in a Burberry store without ever going in a Burberry store, right?
Jamie: Right. And I think that’s a great point. And I said luxury earlier. I mean, it’s really no secret that Burberry is a cost-prohibitive brand for some people.
Logan: For some people. For me.
Jamie: For myself. But I do think they have a lot of beautiful items. It’s a store that, quite frankly, I don’t walk into when I’m physically in the mall because I’m just terrified that they’re gonna talk to me and see if I wanna buy something and I can’t do it. But this experience with this email, first of all, I love that it’s a scarf which is one of the less expensive items. It’s not a $3,000 coat that they’re asking me to fantasize building together. Also because I’ve never gone in their store, I probably have no idea that it comes in four colors, and that you can get it monogrammed.
So it’s basically giving an accessible shopping experience to a user or to a recipient that may or not otherwise have that experience of the brand. And I think it’s really great. But it also doesn’t alienate the people who are surely on their list because they have frequently purchased items. So it’s a great sort of experience whether you buy it all the time or you never could.
Logan: Or just being introduced to it. It makes their brand accessible. It is creating a personal experience and which, “Discover my scarf.” They’re already like encouraging you to take ownership of it.
Jamie: Yeah. And you could put yourself in the story, and it feels personal.
Logan: And maybe I’d sit with that up on my screen for half a day like I did last week. And then I think, “Well, maybe I’m thinking again about this,” and you get to, you know, start up…
Jamie: I want it to be great.
Logan: I want it to be lightweight, and I’m gonna apply it.
Jamie: Right. Exactly. So moving on, love that example.
Logan: This is a favorite too. They’re all favorites, so you’re just gonna hear us repeat that. So this is from our friends over at EROI. So that’s E-R-O-I, and they created this for Taco Bell. And it’s this kind of great choose your own adventure game. So animation and then you get to pick…which would you prefer, Jamie? Do you want a sleigh? Do you want a white elephant?
Jamie: White elephant.
Logan: Yeah. I thought maybe so. And just by clicking on that element, then it changes the route.
Jamie: I’ve played this four times, and I’m literally sitting here smiling. I’m like, “This is so cute.”
Logan: I always like, I mean being the sci-fi enthusiast, I always enjoy a good jetpack so, you know, seeing that. Maybe I do miss Taco Bell. I never thought I’d say those words but right now, I’m thinking it.
Jamie: Yeah, absolutely.
Logan: So this is like they got a great response to this. The unique interactions with this email, game interactions, and link clicks were 188% higher than average which is fantastic.
Jamie: It’s a pretty cool thing to take back to your boss.
Logan: Very much so. Almost 50% of users who open the email on a non-supported email client click through to play the game in a web browser, so that means that you’re losing. Like they had a fall back of this that was just a kind of a static version and it still conveys the story.
Jamie: Right. And I think that that was my favorite part is that the email client support which is basically the users on the other end, whether they use Yahoo or Outlook or Mac Mail, there are…because this is a little bit more advanced, you can easily send out a backup version that is going to still be a fun, delightful sort of static experience regardless. So it shouldn’t stop you from exploring it as an option in your own marketing.
Logan: So this is actually I think one of the second email that EROI created for Taco Bell. We’re gonna take a quick look at one of the other ones right here. And so we’re gonna do a little scrolling, and we talk about embracing the scroll. And oh, look, we can scroll with Taco Bell with Nada or with Bland. Naming was a little awkward there. And we can kind of like walk them through their day here in this kind of fun, nostalgic 8-bit sort of way…
Jamie: It’s super fun.
Logan: ...until you reach the end which it sounds like…I mean they all end in good places. So this is one where EROI took a look at the clients that talk about as List was opening on and they saw that about 60% were using iOS. So they decided to use this interactive scrolling method that they knew would only work on iOS.
Jamie: Right. iPhones.
Logan: Yeah, on phones. iOS devices so your iPhones basically. And they sold it to them as most of your clients are gonna see this anyway. I’m gonna take a quick look at the kind of fallback option here which is just it has the same two calls-to-action at the top. And then it just says, “See what happens,” and that clicks through to the web view version.
Jamie: Right. And that should work for everyone because it’s just on a website. So really, really great again just sort of learning from… you don’t have to be scared to take these steps. And also to Logan’s point, they had data that said people…the majority of people they’re targeting which honestly are I would imagine maybe younger, mobile…
Logan: Yes. Millennials,
Jamie: ...millennials that love… college students, that love Taco Bell and buying Taco Bell from their phones. It might be walking by. They knew they had the data to support. Honestly investing in EROI coding this email because this is a little bit more advanced, and we code these emails for our clients. Most people don’t have the luxury of someone in-house that does this. If you’re sitting here going, “How are we gonna do it?” Raise your hand, and you might need some help. And it’s a great thing to pull out of your arsenal when you have a really specific goal in mind with data.
Logan: It speaks to you knowing your audience, right?
Logan: And that’s what we’re always gonna say as well. You really need to know like, where are they opening it? How are they opening it? And that opens up opportunities like this.
Jamie: Absolutely. So let’s look at another one.
Logan: Jumping right along.
Jamie: I love this one.
Logan: So this was designed by… developed by Christian Robinson over at Two, UK. This was actually their first major send to their agency’s list which I think is pretty great. They started with like a pretty small list, a pretty small send and they were really trying to encourage social shares. You see that. So our interactive Christmas tree was made to be decorated. And so let’s kind of see. Like you can click around, definitely a bit of an homage to, and Christian was the first to tell me this too, one of table TRTDs emails. And you can even change it so that they twinkle. You can even Hamburg it and…
Jamie: Kill your tree.
Logan: And kill your tree which is sad, but then you can start over again. And so they were really banking on this being shared, and they grew their list by 600%.
Jamie: Probably it’s something they didn’t even fathom would happen. And I love, love, love this story. I think this email is super special. It seems there’s a lot going on behind the scenes to make it. But it’s a simple, just sort of wholesome experience, and it’s super, super shareable. And I do think obviously it worked for them. But again, they went in with a really clear goal in mind. And I also think it’s really interesting to point out again on that sort of investment front of, do we wanna maybe pay an agency to help us build an email of this caliber, that does this?
This is a great time to do it. It’s the holidays. They had a very specific goal, and list growth is something that we all strive for. It’s something that…it’s the number one request that we have especially from new customers. And so this is a really, really great sort of tale that says that growing your list isn’t just having a form on your website. There are lots of different ways to go about that, so I love it.
Logan: That’s right. All right. So Nest. So our friends at Nest, Eric Lepetit and his team created this. And so it allows you to kind of swivel between different views of their product. And for them, they first created this like earlier last year, and they really wanted to create a cohesive brand experience. So kind of calling back to our point earlier in the webinar where we were talking about how important it is to make it cohesive. They wanted the experience from website to email to be so cohesive.
Logan: To be seamless, right? And that also kind of introduces this idea of like being able to kind of page through the different product views at your leisure. Like for myself, when I go to Amazon, and I’m thinking about purchasing a product, I’m looking through all those different product views to get a sense of it on all sides.
Jamie: Yeah. Absolutely. And I was gonna say too, Amazon uses the same type of carousel for product recommendations, and it accounts for between 30% and 40% of their total business. These carousels are…people love it. They love scrolling through and seeing that.
Logan: It gives people agency, right?
Logan: You can accomplish the same thing, multiple product views with multiple images or with an animated GIF. But this allows people to sit there and linger and to examine, and it keeps them in that experience. That first image carousel email that Nest sent was their top performing email of all time.
Jamie: Wow. Logan, I was gonna say one thing I also love about this is that it introduces me to the fact that I didn’t know that Nest also sold smart smoke alarms. I think of them as a very sort of one product line. I think I know that they do thermostats as well as smart devices. I didn’t know that there were other things that they could do. And so this email introduced me to that concept, and I was able to learn that immediately and then just changes and shifts my perception of the brand with something that’s so simple. And I also, we’re about to hop into questions.
This is the last example because I know we’ve had a lot coming in, but the thing I love about this as well is that this is incredibly accessible to pretty much any brand. This type of functionality can translate no matter what you’re selling, and it’s fairly simple as far as just that complexity of coding something like this. This is easier.
Logan: Sure. This is… Well, Eric and his team helped pioneer this, and they spent a lot of time on it. Thankfully…
Jamie: It’s nothing.
Logan: ...there’s some other folks like Justin over at FreshInbox and some other folks who have created tools that make this a lot easier. So that is something that we’re very grateful for. Grateful to Eric and his team for pioneering it, and grateful for Justin for making it a little bit more accessible for the rest of us.
Jamie: Absolutely. All right. So in this last little stint, we’re gonna hop into questions. We’ll get to as many as we possibly can. I’m gonna switch the mission control over to me and all right. Hello, everyone. Here we are. I’ve got a couple teed up here. So we’re gonna just hop right in. So Andre wants to know and Julie actually with two TooFar. We’re gonna use Andre’s wording. “While I know this won’t work for everyone’s user base, I’ve been hearing more and more about companies switching over to plain text emails. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it’s gonna become more of a trend in 2017?” And I’ll let you start. I have thoughts as well.
Logan: You’re so thoughtful. And Andre references a really good emails article where they were talking to Newton, a particular brand who switched completely over to plain text for…and so there are few points that I think would make it there. One is that Newton, like plain text, was very in line with their very minimalist brand. A very specific way of looking at that. Two, they did find that switching to plain text email meant they received a lot more replies to their emails which is great if you have the staffing to help support that otherwise. Otherwise, you’re kind of looking at a negative customer experience potentially.
Jamie: Right. I think that’s a brilliant point. And I was going to say for me, instead of it being a trend, I don’t think that you’re gonna see brands stopping HTML email altogether. I think that plain text can be a powerful tool, especially in the sales process. If you’re trying to scale what feels like a personal interaction, fun spoiler alert, we do that here at Emma. We will use automation sometimes to really again, scale your experience and have a good sort of clients, sort of interaction usually on our sales interaction with a specific client. But we only do it once we have a little bit of a deeper relationship with a customer.
It’s definitely not gonna be the first thing that we want you to see from us. We wouldn’t want…and not just because we’re an email marketing company. But if someone is brand new to your audience and they start receiving only plain text emails from you. I feel like that can kind of get confusing. Also just in the inbox view. Inboxes, we’re receiving somewhere around 150 emails a day on average. The average office worker checks their email 30 times an hour. I can’t remember where that came from.
Logan: It’s a good start.
Jamie: Thanks. We spend a heck of a ton of time there and guess what? My boss is in there, my friends, kickball team, whoever it might be. If you’re a brand sending emails that look just like their emails, to me, that starts to get confusing. I might be interested in your brand, but I’m gonna rank that lower on the scale a little bit.
Logan: You lose some of that brand recognition.
Jamie: Yeah, absolutely.
Logan: Yeah, and as with many things. So it’s something that you can employ and employ well but not as your sole means. Not everyone can be Newton.
Jamie: Yeah. And I agree too. I think we will see it more, but I also think that it’s a bit novel to do that and you made a great point. We were chatting about something similar the other day about like send times.
Logan: Yeah. That’s right. So I mean every now and then, you’ll see a stat passed around the industry is like, “What’s the best time to send emails?”
Jamie: Send at 10:00 a.m.
Logan: Right. And someone will pause at a time, and then a whole bunch of people will start following that, and then it becomes not the best time to send email anymore.
Jamie: It’s not the best time to send anymore because everybody is doing it. So I think it’s something to test. I think to reserve it for maybe deeper relationship, maybe some more engaged users, and take it from there and test it. We’d love to hear how it works if you try it.
Logan: I didn’t start sending plain text emails to Jamie until I knew her really well.
Jamie: You can’t code at everything.
Logan: It was a river of love.
Jamie: So we’re gonna move on. So Susie Murphy has a question and we touched on a little bit earlier but I think this is really, really great and one that we get often and I don’t always have all the answers. “Why is Outlook 2016 such a pain in the you know what” Thank you for watching your language, Susie. Will this ever change?”
Logan: Sure. As to why it’s still a pain in the you know what, it’s still because it’s running off of the word rendering. So it just means that the HTML that we send out,... I know. I know. The HTML that we send out that any platform sends out is getting rendered and translated in Outlook by the same thing that powers their Word processing document, and it doesn’t do it very well. The good news is that they…this last year, Microsoft partnered with Litmus to get more feedback specifically from email marketers as to how their emails are being delivered. And so I do hold a lot of hope for the future in that partnership and that we’ll see some improvements. Maybe Outlook 2018 will finally go back to…
Jamie: Look at the future.
Logan: Yeah. Look at the future. I’m very hopeful.
Jamie: So I’m gonna answer. I’m gonna consolidate if it’s all right because several people are asking this question. People are worried basically about GIF video interactive emails in spam filters. And so let’s look at specifically…this is very common. We get this question all the time, so I’m really happy to address it. So Karen wants to know, “I previously heard heavy image emails have a tendency to end up in spam. Not true?”
Logan: Not true. So email… we’re gonna get just a little technical, but I promise to make it easy. So spam filters will look for overall like the size of the email and data. And that part of that is loaded, what we call like a loaded weight. Loaded weight just means that it’s the size of the code plus the size like the data size of the images. And those together should be under 800,000 kilobytes if you want to wanna keep it lower than that. That’s what you want. There’s no magic size for individual images. You’re just wanting to keep that overall because anything over that starts getting caught in really common spam filters all the time.
Jamie: And I was gonna say too, most ESPs that are worth the salt will actually tell you, kind of score the email for you and it might know if someone’s trying to send out something that’s just this gargantuan beast. Like it will actually say, “Hey, this is…you need to check on how to make this better.”
Logan: There are two sizes, both the size of the code itself, the kind of the unloaded weight and the size with the images. So for images, keep it under I’d say like between 600 and 800 kilobytes. And for just the code, keep it under 100 kilobytes, and you should be fine.
Jamie: Cool. Well, we are going to try to get to as many as we can. We have limited time. We’ll go over if you’re hanging out. Susan Claus, which I love your name because it’s awesome…
Logan: It’s a strong name.
Jamie: ...says, “I’m curious on your thoughts for B2B emails as well. Well, I think simple works so much better for B2C. How do you balance getting out a lot of information with design?” And we get this question a lot, and I think…and I’ll just dove right in. I think that almost everything that we talked about today, while we had a lot of great B2C examples, that’s because B2C is always and it is always going to be the most innovative sort of type of business for design. They have a much shorter turnaround time. They’ve got a wealth of images. A lot of these are may be attached to corporations that have crazy budgets and things like that.
So we use a lot of B2C examples not because there aren’t good B2B examples but because people aren’t really doing it that yet. They’re not adopting it. And I work in B2B marketing, so I get it. It’s riskier. There are things that are scary to maybe try or make a case for, and you really have to have your data sort of backed up to do that. On the design front, I would say that most of the things that we covered today are really about usability. So there’s mobile experiences, embracing the scroll, using images that stack in a really nice way. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling. It doesn’t matter, you know… especially I think that newsletter format.
You saw it with the Visit Philadelphia example. There’s sort of that traditional three-column looks like a pamphlet you would get in the late ‘90s at your grocery store. And then there’s the new way which is really just about user experience, human experience with interaction, not necessarily, even the content being different. So if I can take any, you know, leave you guys with anything, it’s that most of the tips that we talked about today are things that really are applicable no matter what you’re doing…
Logan: That’s right. All of those design-based practices, as far as like… So interactive email aside, with B2B, a lot of times, people felt held back too because most people in B2B were looking at it in Outlook. But the design principle stays the same. So font size, making it skimmable, parsable, making it easy to read.
Jamie: And honestly, to that end, for instance, I loved…we ended on that Nest example on purpose. Yes, that’s a consumer electronic good. Anyone could do that, and I would encourage you to. I mean honestly, the moment I saw that example, I was like, “How can Emma’s marketing team use that to convey information?” I could see a university doing that and showing alumni relations data. We’re now registering like having some sort of mimic to the carousel that’s already at the top of their page. I think it’s just a really cool tactic. And so I think you guys, I would love to see… I would love you to be a trailblazer, Susan.
I wanna see more B2B brands sort of translating these things, and that’s something too, you know, we consult with people on how to translate the cool stuff they see into ways that it works for them. So we are… Unfortunately, we’re a little bit over… Maybe you wanna do one more?
Logan: Yeah. Let’s do one more. Thanks for hanging with us.
Jamie: Yeah. Thanks for hanging with us. We will send the recording out. You guys have been absolutely fantastic. We look forward to going through all your questions, and we’ll follow up if there was something pressing if you’re a customer and you need help. Also, look for a little treat in your inboxes next week. Yeah, that’s all I’m gonna say. So I’m gonna be mysterious.
Logan: I don’t even know what this is.
Jamie: We’re gonna send you the recording first, and then we’re gonna send you a little something so be on the lookout.
Jamie: Any tips for creative and effective alt text go. From Allona.
Logan: All right. Be descriptive. Remember that if images are off, making sure that what you’re using adequately conveys like what is in that image if you’re sending content. And you can style alt text. Do it. Litmus has a great guide on that on styling alt text, and we can definitely… like I would look towards that. There we go.
Jamie: Yeah. Cool. And alt text is if the images are blocked or turned off, it’s the text that’s coded behind that image, and it is plain text so anyone would see that. So if it’s a puppy, you can say, “Cool picture of a puppy.”
Logan: That’s right, yeah. Don’t just say puppy. Be descriptive. Fuzzy puppy? What kind of puppy? We all wanna know what kind of puppy.
Jamie: Really, really cute. All right. Cool. Well, again, thank you so much. And this was fun. We should do this again, right?
Jamie: Okay. Bye, guys.
Logan: Bye. Thank you.