Report: 2017 State of Email Creative

2017 State of Email Creative

Email creative is unlike web or print design. It has its own unique constraints and opportunities that marketers must master to make the most of the channel.

The rendering of your design is affected by the email client and screen size used to view it, whether images are disabled, and more. And you have lots of opportunities to up-level your design by using dynamic content, interactive email elements, A/B testing, and more.

Based on our survey of more than 3,500 marketers worldwide, our second annual State of Email Creative report examines every facet of email creative strategy, including:

  • Finding email inspiration
  • Brand guidelines
  • Email design approaches
  • The popularity of various design elements
  • The use of one-off email designs
  • A/B testing
  • Email redesign schedules
  • Landing page responsibilities

This 31-page report explores each of these findings and much more, with 25 charts providing data-based evidence of current practices and trends that impact the email creative process.

Use the results to benchmark your own email creative and design processes, to identify opportunities for improvement, and as evidence to argue for the need to experiment with new email approaches, elements, and tactics.

>> Download the free report

Listen to Sleeknote's podcastI’m honored to be among the first guests on Sleeknote’s new podcast, E-Commerce Boost. In my episode, I spoke with Sleeknote’s Julie Fjeldgaard about the Hierarchy of Subscriber Needs. I explain why creating respectful, functional, valuable, and remarkable email experiences is critical to email marketing success.

In addition to the Hierarchy of Subscriber Needs, we discuss some of the finding from Litmus’ 2017 State of Email Deliverability report, including:

  • Sign-up processes
  • How the context of a sign-up affects subscriber quality and needs
  • The best and most problematic subscriber acquisition sources
  • The opportunity around signup confirmation pages

>> Listen to the podcast

Why You Need Brand Guidelines and What to Put in Them

Brand style guides tend to meticulously detail permissible fonts, header sizes, image style, logo sizes and placements, and on and on. However, despite the clearly unique considerations of the email channel, many companies don’t have any email-specific guidance in their brand guidelines.

Nearly 38% of brands don’t have email brand guidelines, according to Litmus’ upcoming 2017 State of Email Creative report, which is based on a survey of more than 3,500 marketers.

Thankfully, more brands are seeing the need to add email-specific content to their style guides, with 18% more brands creating email brand guidelines since 2016. That’s with good reason.

Having email brand guidelines makes designing emails easier and faster, particularly in organizations with distributed email programs or that use email agencies or freelancers. Marketers who describe their email programs as successful are 22% more likely that those at less successful programs to have brand guidelines for email (67% vs. 55%).

For all the details on what to include in your email brand guidelines…

>> Read the full post on the Litmus blog

Email Marketing Job Hotspots and Hot Skills

Email Marketing Job Hotspots and Hot Skills

Looking for an email marketing job in the US? Then California, Massachusetts, Georgia, Illinois, and New York are the top states for you. In Canada? Then Ontario is tops. In the United Kingdom? London is king.

Those are the top locations that were listed in the highest number of job postings to the Litmus Community Job Board between August 2016 and August 2017, when there were 256 total job postings.

Continuing to live up to its reputation as a high-tech hub, California was by far the state with the most job postings for email marketers. It had at least twice as many email marketing job listings as any other state, with the exception of Massachusetts.

While the United States had considerably more email marketing job postings than the United Kingdom, the city of London had more postings than any US state except for California.

>> Read the full post on the Litmus blog

The Last Word on October 2017

The Last WordA roundup of email marketing articles, posts, and tweets you might have missed last month…

Must-read articles, posts & reports

The Better Email on Design (Jason Rodriguez)

95% Boost in Conversions from a Small, Simple Change (Email Optimization Shop)

What annoys your clients the most when receiving an email? (Smart Insights)

Why Email Is the Locomotive of Digital Marketing (Forbes)

Email marketing trends 2018 (Smart Insights)

Insightful & entertaining tweets

Noteworthy subject lines

ASPCA, 10/18 — Don’t Miss Out. Get Your ASPCA Calendar!
Kate Spade, 10/18 — cat ladies, rejoice!
Clinique, 10/14 — Gift sets for that holiday glow. 5 FREE minis with purchase.
RH, 10/12 — Introducing the Holiday 2017 Collection. Free Shipping on Hundreds of Items.
The Container Store, 10/1 — Got an organizing project? We’ve got a Starter Kit that’ll help
The Crutchfield Team, 10/22 — Sonos + Alexa = Sonos One
DNC Rapid Response, 10/25 — Our rights > Big corporations
FansEdge, 10/12 — THE YANKEES WIN! NY Is In The ALCS!
Nike, 10/22 — Layer your way to peak performance.
ModCloth, 10/7 — ’Cause legs need love, too.
RH, 10/22 — Introducing the Moroccan Cactus Silk Pillow Collection
Wayfair, 10/14 — UNDER-$150 TV stands. Popcorn not included.
GapKids, 10/14 — Here to save the day: Gap x Justice League
Hasbro, 10/12 — Super(hero) Savings
Gucci, 10/11 — Debuting the Unskilled Worker Collection
Godiva Chocolatier, 10/14 — You Asked, We Listened! Our Large Chocolate Bars are BACK
NFLshop, 10/31 — RESTOCK ALERT: Patriots Nike Free Trainer V7 Shoes (will sell out fast!)
Subway, 10/12 — Are you ready for some fooootlooongs?
San Diego Zoo & Safari, 10/13 — Happy, Happy Hippos
Gander Outdoors, 10/25 — Field Tips: The Lowdown on Ground Blinds
Neiman Marcus, 10/14 — Say yes to dresses under $300
Victoria’s Secret, 10/14 — HOLD ON: Free tote in stores!
The Container Store, 10/27 — Watch our Best-Selling Products In Action
Anthropologie, 10/14 — Text me, pls.
Victoria’s Secret, 10/12 — BRA #GOALS: New fall colors!
Sony Electronics, 10/18 — Be a Part of Sony Research | Tell Us What You Think

New posts on

The Rarest and Coolest Defensive Design Tactic: Email Pixel Art

Smart Insights: Email Marketing Trends in 2018

Email Interactivity: Opportunities and Challenges

Webinar Recording + Q&A: The Root Cause of Poor Email Deliverability

Email Design Podcast #78: The 2017 State of Email Deliverability

The Last Word on September 2017

Email Pixel ArtImage blocking is common, with some email clients disabling images by default and some subscribers turning off images to save mobile data or for other reasons. Because of that, email marketers need to use defensive design techniques to ensure that their message is conveyed when images are disabled.

Defensive design consists of three key tactics:

  1. Using HTML or live text as much as feasibly possible, instead of embedding all of your text into your images
  2. Adding ALT text to your images—or better yet, styled ALT text
  3. Using background colors on table cells

Let’s focus on that last tactic. Adding a background color to a table cell creates banners, content blocks, and is essential to making bulletproof buttons.

That’s great, but background-colored table cells can do more—much more. In addition to being used along with HTML text to create email content that is unaffected by having images blocked, table cell background colors can be used as a fallback for images. You do this by creating an email mosaic out of table cells and placing it behind an image. When the overlaying image is blocked and disappears, then the underlying email pixel art appears.

>> Read the full post on the Litmus blog

Smart Insights: Email Marketing Trends in 2018

Read the full article on Smart Insights2018 is fast approaching, so Smart Insights’ breakdown of six emerging email and marketing automation trends is timely.

Their top email marketing trends in 2018—which were informed by contributions from experts, including myself—covered:

  1. GDPR, which Tim Watson of Zettasphere said would be “very disruptive if not terminal for email 3rd party data and that it would spur “more innovation in list growth this year than for the last 14 years.”
  2. Interactive email, which presents many opportunities and challenges for email marketers
  3. Conversational email copywriting, which is essentially about how to write email copy like a human
  4. Mobile-friendly designs, which are an imperative given the current email reading habits
  5. Deliverability, which I predicted would be boosted by an increase in email authentication driven by the emerging Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) standard
  6. Personalization and segmentation, which will be driven by affordable machine learning and AI solutions

For all the details…

>> Read the full article on

Interactive Email's Opportunities and ChallengesEnthusiasm for email interactivity is at an all-time high this year, with marketers declaring that 2017 is the year of email interactivity, saying that interactivity was a bigger trend than Big Data. Marketers are right to be excited.

Allowing subscribers to click in an email and activate additional content within that email reduces friction by not forcing them to visit a website or app. However, email’s disruptive evolution from static message to mailable microsite presents many challenges.

But first things first. Before we look at the challenges, let’s look at all the opportunities that email interactivity offers to marketers.

>> Read the full post on the Litmus blog

Watch "The Root Causes of Poor Email Deliverability" webinarBeing blocked and blacklisted should be far less common than they are today, when 34% of marketers have been blocked and nearly 15% have been blacklisted in the past 12 months, according to Litmus’ 2017 State of Email Deliverability report.

After examining the subscriber acquisition, permission, inactivity management, and other practices of more than 3,500 marketers, we’ve identified the root causes of poor inbox placement. We’ve also identified the half-measures marketers take to avoid addressing those root causes.

In this webinar, deliverability expert and Litmus Product Manager Jay Brangiforte and I discuss the various ways that marketers try to improve their poor email deliverability and which ones work best.

If you didn’t make the webinar, there’s no need to worry. You can watch the whole thing, plus see the answers to the questions we didn’t get to during the live webinar.

>> Watch the webinar on the Litmus Blog

The Last Word on September 2017

The Last WordA roundup of email marketing articles, posts, and tweets you might have missed last month…

Must-read articles, posts & reports

Improving Gmail Delivery (Word to the Wise)

7 Really Good Unsubscribe Pages + Preference Centers (Really Good Emails)

What’s the Most Annoying Thing About Email Marketing? (eMarketer)

Getting GDPR consent & opt-in (Zettasphere)

Insightful & entertaining tweets

Noteworthy subject lines

American Red Cross, 9/5 — Stories from our Texas shelters
Lands’ End, 9/14 — Squall answers Mother Nature’s call + 30% off
Lenovo, 9/7 — Where Does Your Loyalty Lie?
Lego, 9/10 — 24 gifts are better than 1!
Ann Taylor, 9/19 — 1 Classic Piece. 3 Brand New Outfits.
ThinkGeek, 9/1 — Pre-order exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series figures!
Carnival Cruise Line, 9/2 — Our Monthly Destination Spotlight: Alaska
The North Face, 9/10 — Meet our NEW ridiculously comfortable fleece…
Hayneedle, 9/10 — Let’s do launch: Our NEW app is here!
Gucci, 9/7 — Introducing Gucci Decor
Gilt, 9/5 — Celebrate the New Gilt with $30 Off
Garnet Hill, 9/14 — New flannel pj’s to enjoy, organically
Apple, 9/15 — iPhone 8. Apple Watch Series 3. Pre-order now.
NFLshop, 9/17 — Patriots Win Week 2: Time for NEW Gear!
Olive Garden, 9/18 — Save on your favorites for game day.
Saks Fifth Avenue, 9/27 — Paris Fashion Week: everyone’s talking about Dries Van Noten
Saks Fifth Avenue, 9/30 — Joseph Altuzarra’s Must-See Guide to Paris
The Container Store, 9/10 — 5 Entryway Ideas for Quick Organization – 25% Off!
Epicurious, 9/6 — The Best Roast Chicken Recipe of All Time
Applebee’s, 9/5 — A meal for two that includes everything but the people.
Sony Electronics, 9/13 — Say it. See it. Control TV with Your Voice
Clinique, 9/7 — There’s a mascara for that. Free 4-pc. Kit with purchase.
ModCloth, 9/6 — Ordinary is so overrated.
Gap, 9/14 — Cher and Future meet in the Gap
eBags, 9/15 — Keep calm and get two weeks of clothes in your carry-on!
ToysRUs, 9/28 — Ready for Some Seriously Extended Play?
Kate Spade, 9/10 — last chance to enjoy 25% off when you shop with purpose…
Anthropologie, 9/27 — How to pre-shop.
Gap, 9/30 — Success! We found **puffers** for you
UncommonGoods, 9/27 — “Where’d You Get That?”
Petco, 9/30 — If you saw $5 on the floor, would you pick it up?
MAC Cosmetics, 9/7 — M•A•C Studio Fix – Get Your Fix. Join the #FIXFAM

New posts on

The POGLE Media Model: Why Email Marketing Isn’t Owned Media

Email Marketing’s Gender Pay Gap

CAN-SPAM: How to Fix It So It Stops Hurting US Businesses

The Last Word on August 2017


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