Posted on September 8, 2016
Designing an email isn’t like designing a webpage or print piece. There are both limitations and opportunities around what you can do with email design, and it’s up to email designers and coders to master both of those.
In the inaugural State of Email Design report, which is based on the responses of more than 900 marketers, we take a detailed look at how marketers:
- Search for email inspiration
- Use brand guidelines
- Approach email design
- Use various design elements
- Use one-off email designs
- A/B test their emails
- Handle email redesigns
- Manage landing page responsibilities
Use the results in this report to benchmark your own email designs and design processes, to identify opportunities where you can improve, and as evidence to argue for the need to try out new email marketing tactics and strategies.
Posted on September 7, 2016
Most retailers are in serious planning mode for their holiday season promotional campaigns. We’ll start to see a sprinkling of holiday email marketing campaigns in the weeks ahead—and then holiday messaging will get going in earnest on Halloween and the days following.
In light of the planning that’s currently going on, Vaida Pakulyte of Strands asked me and five other experts for our best advice for retailers starting to create their holiday season campaigns. Here’s my advice:
Retailers that keep their messaging clear and compelling will do very well this holiday season. Simplicity wins when it comes to holiday broadcast messaging.
But increasingly, the biggest winners are determined by which brands have the best triggered emails–especially browse and cart abandonment emails. Targeting subscribers who browse without purchasing and add products to their cart without purchasing, respectively, these emails are incredibly effective at generating conversions.
Going into the holiday season, I highly recommend that you launch even simple versions of these emails, if you don’t currently have them. And if you’re already created these emails, then:
- Test them to make sure they still render and function as intended
- Look for opportunities to improve them through A/B testing between now and the end of October
- Consider adding seasonal imagery and messaging to make them more relevant to holiday shoppers
- Consider setting these emails to launch more quickly after abandonment since purchase consideration cycles are much faster during the holiday season
Posted on September 6, 2016
While at The Email Design Conference in Boston a few weeks ago, I tweeted a lot of great email marketing soundbites from the sessions, and saw a bunch of great ones from the sessions in the track I wasn’t in. Twitter is fantastic at delivering soundbites like these, but it’s horrible at conveying the larger context and details orbiting around these soundbites.
In my latest Marketing Land column, I discuss the deeper meaning behind the following quotes from The Email Design Conference:
“The time when emails had to be pixel-perfect is way behind us.” —Eric Lepetit, Email Lead Engineer, Manager, Nest (@ericlepetitsf)
“I want to do business with a company that treats emailing me as a privilege, not a transaction.” —Andrea Mignolo, Head of Design & UX, Movable Ink (@pnts)
“An Amazon email in your inbox should feel like an Amazon box on your doorstep.” —Vicky Ge, Product Manager II, Email Automation and Outbound Marketing Systems, Amazon (@vickymakesstuff)
“The right button isn’t what’s popular. It’s what’s tested.” —Mike Nelson, Co-founder, Really Good Emails (@mevlow)
“F#@&ups are learning opportunities.” —Russell Patton, Senior Email Deployment Specialist, Archer>Malmo
For a dive into the greater meaning behind these email marketing soundbites…
Posted on September 1, 2016
Must-read articles, posts & reports
Everything You Wanted to Know About Email CTA Buttons (Really Good Emails)
An Alternative Theory (Rebelmail)
Millennials + Email: How to Engage Email Natives (BrightWave)
Interview: Litmus CEO Paul Farnell on Microsoft partnership (EmailMarketingWeb)
Insightful & entertaining tweets
@iamelliot: 9 times out of 10, the solution to any email dev problem is “just add another table” #emailgeeks #tables4dayz
@RodriguezCommaJ: Modular design requires buy-in from everyone. Copywriters, designers, and coders all need to know what modules they can use. #LitmusLive
@Listrak: 1/3 of shoppers took advantage of BOPIS (buy online, pick-up in store) in 2015 holiday season #ListrakTrends
@bestofjess: “The most important things don’t show up in analytics. I want a graph of hand-written thank you notes received & karma earned.” #contentjam
Noteworthy subject lines
OnlineShoes.com, 8/13 — Get $60 off | Gold, silver or bronze deals
West Elm, 8/13 — First-Place Picks! See what made our list…
Aeropostale, 8/15 — Trending: Our Americana Shop
Earth Day Network, 8/18 — World Records We Shouldn’t Be Breaking
Verizon, 8/21 — Now that the games are over, catch up on the best movies
ToysRUs, 8/2 — Calling All Candidates!
American Apparel, 8/9 — WIN A $500 Gift Card + Model For Us
Sony, 8/9 — A+ Innovations | Perfect for Back to School
GapKids, 8/9 — Classroom-cool, after-school ready
Dunkin’ Donuts, 8/26 — The hotter the weather, the better these taste!
Neiman Marcus, 8/3 — Baby, it’s cold INSIDE: 20% off cashmere right now
Brooks Brothers, 8/18 — It’s hot out. But now for long.
Lands’ End, 8/9 — There’s no such things as a “good enough” cardigan to us
Anthropology, 8/16 — A favorite designer. A soon-to-be favorite dress.
Victoria’s Secret, 8/18 — The perfect pair
The Swiss Colony, 8/9 — Snack Softly…and Chew a Savory Stick
Chili’s, 8/18 — This deal will have you guacin’ on sunshine!
San Diego Zoo, 8/12 — Happy 100th Birthday to the San Diego Zoo!
SeaWorld Orlando, 8/16 — Can you handle the thrills of National Coaster Day?
Goodwill Industries, 8/27 — DIY Harry Potter Inspired Projects
Dell, 8/2 — Wait… Dell.com has amazing savings on electronics too? (On second thought, don’t wait.)
Drs. Foster & Smith, 8/15 — Your Pet is About to Miss Out : (
J.Crew, 8/13 — Pop quiz! Which button-up’s for you?
Moosejaw, 8/18 — Can you Anagram with the Best?
GapKids, 8/18 — 2 inches taller? Try cute PJs that fit
Horchow, 8/1 — Need inspiration? We’ve got that!
Kate Spade, 8/13 — like? love!
Neiman Marcus, 8/12 — #onlyatNM evening dresses from Sachin & Babi Noir
Target, 8/28 — It’s #TargetRunDay! Get 10% off your purchase.
FansEdge, 8/24 — Avoid #FOMO. 25% Off Is Almost Over.
REI, 8/9 — Introducing REI Garage
Applebee’s, 8/2 — Chad, Download Our App and Save!
Ikea, 8/9 — Chad, the new 2017 IKEA Catalog is here!
New posts on EmailMarketingRules.com
Posted on August 30, 2016
During my more than a decade of doing email marketing research, email volume during the weekend has always been significantly lower than during the weekdays. At the same time, response rates have always been higher during the weekend.
Yesmail’s latest research re-confirms this pattern and begs the question: Why has this disconnect persisted for so long? What’s keeping marketers from seizing the opportunity provided by sending weekend promotional emails?
I spoke to MediaPost reporter Jess Nelson about it, saying:
“Giving email marketers and other staff, such as legal, customer service, and social media teams, the incentives and support they need to work over the weekend is well worth investigating. Establishing policies such as flexible work hours and overtime pay for weekend and after-hours work can make this shift much easier.”
Posted on August 23, 2016
Frustrations with email rendering in Outlook run deep. They date back to 2007 when Microsoft switched its Outlook rendering engine from Internet Explorer to Word, which had—and still has—poor support for HTML and CSS.
Those frustrations boiled over with the FixOutlook.org Project, which Campaign Monitor started in 2009. Aimed at getting Microsoft’s attention, the effort generated more than 24,000 tweets—including several from me—that were turned into a giant poster that was sent to Microsoft’s VP of Office.
The effort drew national media coverage and did succeed in eliciting a response from an understandably defensive Microsoft, which essentially said that they weren’t prepared to make any changes at that time. The release of Outlook 2010, which had basically the same rendering as Outlook 2007, confirmed Microsoft’s position.
Flash forward to Aug. 16, 2016, when Microsoft and Litmus announced a partnership to improve rendering in Outlook. Some people have asked: Why did this take so long? What’s different now?
Actually, quite a lot.
Posted on August 18, 2016
Start planning now! The majority of brands don’t plan their holiday email marketing campaigns more than 2 months in advance, according to our State of Email Production report. That’s a missed opportunity, given how much revenue is at stake and the additional production workload that occurs during the holiday season.
On average, retailers increase their email frequency to their subscribers by roughly 50% during November and December, compared to non-holiday months. That’s a lot of extra emails that have to get designed, coded, and QAed. Starting early can help marketers avoid rushing later.
BigCommerce also collected great holiday marketing tips from:
- Alex Birkett, Growth Marketer and Content Strategist, ConversionXL
- Jamie Turner, CEO, 60 Second Marketer
- Jason Dea, Director of Product Marketing, Intelex Technologies
- Jeff Sauer, Founder and Lead Instructor, Jeffalytics
- Jana Skulinova, Marketing Manager, MonkeyData
- Richard Lazazzera, Founder, A Better Lemonade Stand
- Ryan BeMiller, Founder, Shopping Signals
- Alex McEachern, Loyalty Marketing Specialist, SweetTooth
- Ashley Suarez Wood, Content Marketer, Packlane
- Raheem Sarcar, Founder and CEO, RewardCamp
- Sarah George, Enterprise Account Manager, BigCommerce
- Susannah Morris, Industries Marketing Specialist, HubSpot
- Timi Garai, Content Marketer, Antavo
- Joel Cherrico, Founder, Cherrico Pottery
- Andrew Youderian, Founder, EcommerceFuel
- Luke Guy, Blogger and Entrepreneur, LukeGuy.com
- Zach Heller, Marketing Consultant, Zach Heller Marketing
- Daniel Clutterbuck, Ecommerce and Social Media Strategy Consultant
- David Potts, CEO, SalesWarp
For all the great advice…
Posted on August 11, 2016
- What email metrics marketers should use to define success
- How success will be redefined over the next 5 years
- The barriers to email marketing success
- How the C-suite and email marketers can overcome these barriers
In addition to some contributions from me, the ebook has stellar advice from some email marketing greats, including:
- Simms Jenkins, CEO of BrightWave
- David Daniels, CEO and Founder of The Relevancy Group
- Laura Atkins, Owner of Word to the Wise
- Karen Talavera, President of Synchronicity Marketing
- Andrew Barrett, Director of Global Deliverability at Adobe
Here are a couple of tips of mine that didn’t make it into the ebook:
A successful email program is one that serves subscribers’ needs while fulfilling the brand’s goals—whether that goal is awareness, lead nurturing, customer loyalty, or something else. Because email marketing is about mutual benefit, activities that demonstrate that the brand is listening to its subscribers are key.
Many brands still set the wrong goals for their email marketing programs. Aggressive unqualified list growth goals are among the most damaging long-term, but campaign-oriented goals around open and click rates can similarly lead to the adoption of harmful, short-term tactics. Marketing executives need to set goals around open reach, click reach, and subscriber lifetime value that set the brand up for channel-level and subscriber-level success.
Posted on August 10, 2016
Here are four reasons that email marketers should be planning further out for peak season campaigns like holiday campaigns:
- Most retailers send roughly 50% more email campaigns during the holiday season than during non-peak months
- Key campaigns for days like Cyber Monday can involve extra planning
- It takes extra time to design and code season email elements like holiday headers and gift services footers
- Triggered emails should be QA’d and updated going into the holiday season
Posted on August 9, 2016
Several years into the Age of Mobile, brands are finally catching up to consumers, who have been well ahead of them in adopting a mobile. Spurred by Google penalizing websites that aren’t mobile-friendly in search results, 93% of B2C brands now have websites that render and function well on desktops and smartphones, according to joint research between Litmus and Salesforce. And driven by the fact that the majority of emails are now opened on mobile devices, 77% of B2C brands now send mobile-friendly emails, up from 56% a year ago.
Responsive email design—along with, to a much smaller degree, hybrid email design—has become the dominant approach for creating emails that look great and function appropriately across devices big and small. That design approach is used by 50% of B2C brands, compared to 27% using mobile-aware design.
However, not all brands have fully embraced responsive. Some brands are using a mix of responsive and mobile-aware design called responsive-aware design. The percentage of B2C brands using this approach more than doubled over the past year to 20% from 9%.