Enabler provide best practice advice within email marketing for B2B and B2C communications, from a multi award-winning email marketing agency.

Posts

So, you’ve got your awesome email and you know what you want people to do when they receive it, but you could do with something to give them a final push to take action – that’s where landing pages come in!

What is a Landing Page?

In a nutshell, it’s a purpose-built page on your website with dedicated content which can be accessed directly via a link. Because the content for your landing page is usually unique to your marketing campaign, whether it’s a point of entry for a competition, a data capture form or a link to a unique discount code, your landing will normally sit separate from your main website. One big advantage of having a separate landing page for your marketing campaign is this ability to hide it from your main navigation, as it gives you full control over who has access to this exclusive content.

Now, because your landing page is hidden from public view, you need to being actively driving traffic directly to the page to encourage engagement. Whether it’s a link within an email campaign, PPC campaign or social media campaign, you want to ensure whatever channel(s) you choose to drive traffic will maximise exposure and engagement for your well-designed landing page.  The more relevant the landing page content is to your audience, the more likely they are to follow your call-to-actions, thus increasing your conversions. Having a specially-designed page is more likely to be effective than sending them to your main website, where they may struggle to find the promised content.

Additionally, many of our Enabler clients find that having a bespoke landing page is the most efficient way of getting a marketing campaign launched quickly.  It can often take months for changes to be made in-house to company websites due to IT backlogs, so having the ability to create dedicated landing pages yourself within Enabler is far more efficient.

 

So, what does a “well-designed landing page” look like? Let’s talk guidelines for setup and creation:

 

What is the Aim of Your Landing Page?

You’ve designed your bespoke landing page, so now the first thing you need to decide is – What is its purpose?

Generally speaking, this falls into one of two categories:

  • Generating leads for future marketing
  • or to encourage click throughs

Data Capture and Lead Generation

This type of landing page is designed with the intention of capturing your audiences’ data.  You could use this type of page to gather new consumer data or to build more detailed profiles of your existing audience base.  Alternatively you can use data capture forms to help you personalise your future marketing campaigns based on the consumer feedback.

A typical data capture landing page includes a form to complete (obviously), and more often than not include an incentive which will encourage people to complete the form and give you their information. This incentive could include exclusive content or offer, such as white papers or discount codes.

“Why would you want to capture more detail about your existing customers”, we hear you ask – well, the more you know about your customers, the better your campaigns can be, and the better your conversions.  So something as simple as “Let us know your birthday so we can spoil you on the day!” is a great way to offer an incentive while gathering valuable data.

Data Capture Landing Page Example:

This is a great example from our friends over at Salesforce – (as we’re a Salesforce partner this might be a little biased, but this really is a great example of an effective, well-designed landing page).

Why do we like this landing page?:

  • Minimal copy, well styled and bullet-pointed list ensures the overall page isn’t cluttered and is easy to skim read.
  • Check out those security badges below the form. It’s never a bad idea to assure potential customers that the data they are about to share with you is safe.  This can often be a massive issue with some standalone landing pages, as it’s very difficult to prove the landing page belongs to the company it’s advertising.
  • Eye catching content. Having that blue background on the data-capture form really makes it stand out, which will help drive engagement.
  • Catchy headline. Having a buzzword like ‘lightening’ makes it sound like it won’t take very long, which again helps to drive engagement.

Landing Pages to Drive Click-Throughs

This sort of landing page designed to encourage clicks often forms part of the e-commerce sales funnel. The page content is likely to be product information to warm the visitor up to the idea of buying the item(s), with a call-to-action click-through that takes the visitor to the purchase point.

Click-Through Landing Page Example:

Now as a general rule I’d always have the models looking at the copy they’re promoting, but this little guys face really sells the whole thing either way. ‘What else is good?’ I hear you ask:

  • Another cracker of a headline here. “Most Trusted” – having a snappy statement like this gives kudos to your brand and builds trust with the consumer.
  • The tick bullet-points makes the benefits clear and easier to understand than having them in a block paragraph.
  • The call-to-action button is clear and stands out (bright yellow will always do that!)
  • Mobile-friendly – The phone number in the top right is a click-to-call, making it super easy for viewers to contact Nationwide.

All in all, great job!

Designing Your Landing Page

Although we’ve mentioned that a landing page usually sits separately from your main site, you ideally want to ensure that it still reflects your branding and styling of your main website/ This way your online presence is consistent, offering visitors a seamless journey that doesn’t feel separate or disjointed from your brand.

It’s also important that visitors experience “message match” – meaning that the content on your landing page should reflect the message content they clicked.

Here’s a great email example that our Enabler designers created for our client Ralph Lauren recently:

Ralph Lauren’s Email:

As you can see, there’s a nice clear call-to-action for recipients ‘explore their gifting lookbook’, and the email content portrays the stylised content of the Ralph Lauren brand. So, what did this email link take you to…?

The Landing Page We Designed:

Anyone clicking the email link is taken to a dedicated landing page, hosted separate from the Ralph Lauren website, where you are greeted with a brief explanation of how the landing page’s ‘lookbook’ works.  The ‘message-match’ of the landing page mirrors the styling of the email perfectly, matching fonts and colours.

After closing the greeting box, visitors get to explore the promised lookbook – an interactive landing page experience:

Fully Interactive Landing Page:

The Ralph Lauren website wasn’t available for this campaign, so our designers had to fashion (see what we did there?) a bespoke landing page hosted separately on our Enabler servers.  This interactive landing page had lots of fun animated elements to make it appealing and engaging, and was a fantastic way to help showcase Ralph Lauren’s products separate from the Ralph Lauren website. This interactive element makes it a really great example of making the most out of your landing page.

Don’t Forget To Track Your Landing Pages

It’s all very well getting people clicking through to your landing page, but all that work is for nothing if they drop off without actually engaging with the landing page content. How will you know if people clicked through but then dropped off? How I hear you ask? Tracking! You can optimise your page using the same tracking you would use on your website (e.g. Google Analytics) to get all of this information.

What Next?

If I’m being completely honest, the best thing for you to do before putting a landing page together is come and speak to our team. We build landing page campaigns for global brands every day, it’s our bread and butter.

If you would prefer to build your own landing page, here’s a quick checklist of things to remember:

  • Keep your messaging consistent
  • Bright, clear CTA’s
  • Don’t overcrowd the messaging
  • Prove it’s a safe and secure site for gathering data
  • Make the benefits of signing up clear
  • Tracking, tracking, tracking

Happy landing paging!

The Graphics Interchange Format or GIF (although some people say ‘JIF’), turned the big 3-0 this year (2017), so we thought we’d say Happy Birthday – but now we feel old!

When someone says ‘GIF’ to me, it still conjures up images of 1980’s Space Invader icons waving their little pixelated arms, but now that we’re 30 years on, the GIF has taken on a new form and is slowly taking over the world of email campaigns.

A Brief History of GIF

As simplistic as the animated GIF once when the Space Invaders were all the rage, the GIF has now developed into something that doesn’t have to look so simplistic.  GIFs today are, as Daft Punk once said, are harder, better, faster, stronger. They have stood the test of time, and are now more detailed, bettered designed and better developed.  The GIF, simply put, is the underdog image-equivalent of Rocky Balboa, that always comes out fighting and on top.

GIF hasn’t always had the ring to itself when it comes to animated imagery.  Some early GIF contenders included MNG (Multiple Image Network Graphics) and APNG (Animated Portable Network Graphics).  Both used animated image graphics based around PNG, but were knocked out in the first round by development issues that hindered their progression.
Next on the scene was Adobe Flash, who went the full 12 rounds, threatening GIF’s title as the go-to animated image. Luckily for GIF however, Adobe Flash retired early due to security flaws and restricted mobile performance.

Today, GIF is being pitted against the new kid on the block – HTML5.  This newbie is the most current markup language that utilises new animated elements like the <video> tag for the display of short, silent, looping, moving picture files – examples of which can be found on Gfycat and Imgur.

However, even with this new contender, the GIF is still fighting strong after 30 years as one of, if not the most successful animated image, thanks not only to its versatility but also its accessibility.  You can find a GIF of almost anything, and with so many sites offering up high quality, easily downloadable and shareable GIFs (our personal favourite is giphy.com by the way), there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be using GIFs.

So Why Use GIF In Your Emails?

Over the years, the animated GIF naturally progressed out video games and into our emails. These little video gems act as the perfect format to capture someone’s attention within the inbox, as Dell discovered when they launched their XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook™, using an animated GIF to show off it’s flip function.

In fact, an animated GIF incorporated into your emails can help increase click-through rates by up to 42%.

How Will You Use Yours?

Depending on your email content, GIFs can be utilised in a variety of ways: for fun, style or informative. Here’s some examples below:

Fun Promotions

One of the most ‘must-watch’ TV shows right now is the NETFLIX Original Series “Stranger Things”.  To promote the launch of the new season, Netflix used a creepy GIF in their email marketing timed perfectly with the show’s backdrop and released just before Halloween.

Another creepy example comes from Email Monks, who showcased a creative yet spooky CSS3 which featured an interactive GIF for their “Annabelle Creation” email, with clever animation, click response and some extra eerie added sound.

Style

Big brands like Nike are known for producing some very clean, stylish emails featuring  big images and subtle GIF animations.

Uber produced a simple but very effective looping GIF for their email marketing campaigns, featuring a great branding style combined with some simple animation.  Just goes to show that your GIFS don’t have to be hugely elaborate – sometimes clean and simple (if done right) can look stylish.

Informative

Show off their new VW Beetle, Lego used an animated GIF carousel within their email campaign, showcasing image comparisons, different viewpoints and workings of their beach bug. So remember, sometimes a simple carousel of images can be the most effective GIF, rather than something elaborately complicated.

Everyone loves a ‘How-To’ video, which is why the GIF in Harry’s Instagram email campaign is so effective, with its short run-through of their Instagram account featuring an interactive behind-the-scenes experience. Simple but informative.

So Now To The Eternal Debate…

Is GIF Pronounced With A Hard ‘G’ or Soft ‘G’? – that is the question.

Apparently the GIF developer, Steve Wilhite intended a soft G, saying it deliberately echoed the American Peanut Butter JIF. Personally I would say hard G, as the G does stand for ‘Graphics’ after all. Even the former President of the US, Barack Obama had his say on the matter:

“A GIF, I’m all on top of it. That is my official position”
Barack Obama

What Does The Future Hold For GIFs?

Brought up on the Netscape streets, the GIF fought it’s way through many a animated battle to become a legend graphic amongst its peers.  From kids to professional marketers, everyone loves using a GIF.  These little snippets of animation can capture your attention and your emotions in a way that a still JPEG just can’t – and it’s for that exact reason that email marketers love the GIF so dearly.  The GIF has adapted to its competitors to become the champion of the animated image, and just like the JIF/GIF debate, the GIF will be around for a long time to come.

So, with the festive holidays approaching, I will leave you with the full GIF movie of ELF.

Enjoy!

Almost everywhere we look these days, we are exposed to all kinds of marketing campaigns. As we have moved into the digital age, brands have discovered more innovative technological methods to promote their message. Now, these tools can give businesses really effective insights into the analytics of their campaigns – insights they might not have been able to collate 10 or so years ago.  However, although tools such as paid search and analytical campaigns are beneficial, organisations should not ignore the fact that straightforward ‘word of mouth’ recommendations are one of the most important and reliable tools email marketers have in their weaponry.

Let’s delve a little further…

How many times have you searched online for a hotel getaway or searched for a restaurant for that cheeky midweek night out? Quite a few times we would assume! With these searches, would you say that your decisions to make a purchase was based around other customer reviews? If you answered ‘Yes’, you would not be alone – according to a recent study by Podium, 93% of consumers said online reviews impacted their purchasing decisions.

So how does this relate to my email campaigns, we hear you ask!

Well, as we can see from Podium’s study, testimonials are a powerful motivator of consumer action.  This can also be linked to a term called ‘Social Proof’, which refers to people conforming to the actions of other users with the assumption that those actions reflect their own desired behaviour. Combine this ‘social proof’ recommendation with email – one of the most vital tools in building and maintaining customer relationships and generating revenue – and you can discover how a positive testimonial can reinforce the value of your product. This could make the difference between a customer just browsing with an element of uncertainty, to grabbing their attention and converting them to purchase.

Don’t just take our word for it, Founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, had this to say on the importance of testimonials:

“People influence people. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the holy grail of advertising”.

 

Benefits of Using Testimonials

One of the stand out factors of incorporating testimonials into your email correspondence is that it allows you to identify your market, giving your business the ability to show potential consumers that people just like them are finding solutions to problems or questions that they share. Testimonials tell the brand’s story, which offers businesses the opportunity to up their credibility by publishing success stories that others will aspire to, which in turn should increase reliability from the customer.

As briefly mentioned earlier, many organisations use a number of different marketing techniques to get their message out there and into the customer’s mind, however none of these have what a testimonial has; a human voice from a customer with first-hand experience of your brand. Adding a real life element to the frame gives the prospective customer something to resonate with, and by including photos and stories from satisfied customers helps to add that emotional, real life appeal and value to your recommendations.

 

Things to Consider When Gathering Testimonials

The main objective of a testimonial is for it to gather a compelling response from the customer – testimonials with more detail and emotion tend to stand out more and provide more credibility. The other aspect to take note of when contacting your customers for quotes is to ask the right questions.  These questions should be worded so that it actively encourages a positive and honest responses from your customers, highlighting how good the product is and that the customer’s problem or query was resolved as a result.

Focus on honesty when gathering and implementing your testimonials. It would be all too easy to just create a few fake comments singing your products praises, but in the grand scheme of things you are aiming to build relationships with your customers, and the best way to build these relationships is on trust.

While we are on the topic of trust, if a customer has been kind enough to leave you a glowing review it can be even more beneficial to include an image of that person alongside their comment. Depending on your product, including a positive, friendly photo shows you are approachable and come across as a trustworthy business – this is where linking to social profiles can be useful.

Some Facts and Figures

  • According to a study by Nielsen, “92% of the study trusted recommendations from their peers and 70% would trust a recommendation from a stranger”.

  • “91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word of mouth when making their decision” – USM

  • “74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision” – USM 

What makes a good testimonial?


BorrowMyDoggy

This comment from Lyndsey instantly engages with the reader.  Due to the concept of BorrowMyDoggy some potential customers may have doubts about allowing a stranger to walk their dog without really knowing them, or alternatively the potential dog walkers may have some doubts about the dog owners. By using Lyndsey’s positive experience as an example, the company is not only emphasising how enjoyable the experience was but are also including an element of reassurance for any unconvinced consumers.


Tanners Wines

Tanners Wines are a family owned wine merchant based in the North of England. Gaining a detailed quote helps to not only increase awareness of their own branded Champagne but the nature of the comment itself gives the sense that Matthew Jukes is well travelled when it comes to testing and reviewing Champagne, emphasising the source as reputable and helps to place the Tanners brand above its competitors.

Seeing as we want to engage with our customer, your testimonial should be fairly prominent and not tucked away in a corner of an email or in the middle of a sentence. It should stand out, mainly as it shows that your product is being used and consumers are reacting positively to it. Embedding the quote into an image can also be a useful way to grab your audiences’ attention.

If you are concerned testimonials are not really going to add anything extra to your emails, the best advice would be to test, test and test again! Splitting your email sends into A/B testing – one with a testimonial and one without – will give you a good indication into how well your emails are performing and which ones have the highest click through rate.

So, returning to the original question… Are testimonials important? – Yes they are!

Overall, a good testimonial is specific to the customer and highlights what is good about the brand and the benefits it will give the customer once purchased. The ultimate objective for any operating business is to make a sale, including engaging testimonials in your email correspondence go a long way to help achieve this.

Sources:

Podium http://learn.podium.com/rs/841-BRM-380/images/2017-SOOR-Infographic.jpg 
Nielsen http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2012/trust-in-advertising–paid-owned-and-earned.html 
USM https://www.getambassador.com/blog/word-of-mouth-marketing-statistics 

Whatever email provider you use, whether it be Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo, part if its job is to protect you from emails that are potentially harmful or at the very least not authentic. Typically, this means checking the authenticity of the sender, so when an email hits your email server, the client will ask itself three key questions:

  1. “Is this email from who it says it’s from?”

  2. “How do I check that?”

  3. “What do I do if it’s not?”

 

For a minute, I’d like you to imagine that you receive an email from a friend of yours which says: “Hey you, I know we haven’t seen each other in a while but why don’t we meet for a coffee and catch up soon. How about in the middle of the woods at midnight?”

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I got a message like that I’d want to check that my eccentric friend really did want to meet for coffee in the woods, and that their phone hadn’t been stolen.  The first three thoughts I’d have would be:

  1. Is this the sort of behaviour I’d expect  from this friend?

  2. How to I check it’s really them?

  3. How do I deal with this if it’s not them?

As email marketers, we are particularly interested in how the email client goes about checking if the email is authentic, as it can really impact whether we’re able to get into customer inboxes. As per our first three questions, you’ll see that they take a fairly similar route to us humans in deducing if the message is authentic.

 

So How Does An Email Provider Work Out An Email Is Legit?

Step 1:

First, the receiving mail server looks for specific items of information in your email and in the DNS records, (domain name system – basically the phone book of the web), of your domain to try to determine whether the email is legitimate, safe for its users to receive and whether the email is being sent from an authorised source.

 

Step 2:

It will then look for something called an SPF (Sender Policy Framework) record, which basically means the mail server is making sure that the email has come from a place (IP) that it’s allowed to come from. So for example, if you’re sending an email from coffeefriend@inthewoods.com from an IP such as 84.126.18.127 you would need to make sure that an SPF record was set up that allowed emails coming from that IP to send from that email address. This prevents those tricksters from using spoofed email addresses and fooling us all! If the email is sent from a sending host or IP that is not in the SPF record, the receiving mail server can determine that the email is not coming from an authorised IP, and that the email could be illegitimate in nature.

 

Step 3:

The next thing the server looks for is DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) – a method of authentication that is based on adding an encrypted signature to your emails. Now this isn’t just the normal email signature that goes at the end your email, it’s a special signature found in the email header. Once you have DKIM in place in the DNS records of your domain, your emails will be much better positioned to reach the inbox and you will also be helping protect yourself and your users against spam and phishing attempts.

Here’s a quick summary of how that all works:

  1. DKIM records are put in place and verified – all emails will have a DKIM encrypted signature added to the email header upon sending

  2. This encrypted signature is generated based on the DKIM key that you have added to the DNS records of your domain, and includes a hash string based on elements of the specific email being sent. This means that each individual email you send will carry a unique DKIM signature

  3. The receiving mail server can then decrypt the DKIM signature using the public key that is hosted in your DNS records

  4. It will also simultaneously generate a new hash string based on the same elements of the email that were used when the email was sent

  5. If the decrypted signature matches the newly generated hash string then the email successfully passes DKIM authentication

 

Basically, what that all means is the server can do these two key things:

  1. Safely determine that the owner of the domain where the DKIM key is located was responsible for sending the email

  2. See that the contents of the email were not modified in transit between the sender and the recipient

So, essentially what your mail server has done is checked you are who you say you are (SPF), no-one has stolen your identity (DKIM) … determining that your friend really does want to meet you for midnight woodland coffee.

With all the steps being taken to ensure email is coming from where and who it says it is, it’s more important than ever as marketers to prioritise authentication actions. By putting email authentication in place you are mitigating the potential for email fraud targeting your brand whilst simultaneously helping your emails reach your customers.

Of course, there are other factors which will determine whether your emails are actually reaching your subscribers inboxes such as spammy subject lines, but from a technical perspective, making sure your emails are passing authentication is key.

If your email campaigns are not already authenticated, the time has come to make it happen!

Email marketing has undergone some fairly dramatic changes in the past 10 years, both from a strategic and technical standpoint.  Gone are the days of sending mass emails to your entire database which include generic product pushes, which are about as inspirational as the ‘one size fits all’ label on a piece of clothing.  One of the driving forces behind this change is that it  is now commonly accepted by marketeers that segmentation and personalisation of email campaigns are the ways to drive higher ROI, brand awareness and loyalty.

So how do we make sure every email we send is tailored to the personal needs of our customers?  We believe there are three things that have to be in place for this to be achieved:

  • Knowledge about your customers – Without understanding your customers, how do you expect to give them relevant content?  How do you determine what is relevant to them?

  • Data – How do you implement the right email strategy without the correct data in place?

  • A fantastic ESP (Email Service Provider) – that enables you to implement and successfully deliver a decent targeting strategy. (See Enabler’s functionality to see how it could do for you)

 

 

Knowledge About Your Customers

Your customer knowledge can come from your existing databases looking at the data that’s been gathered from previous customer activity (i.e. through forms, surveys or events), or it could be gathered from the customer’s email behaviour (opens, clicks, unsubscribes). However, even if you are starting from scratch, there are ways that you can build up a picture of your customers.

When it comes to using your customer knowledge to create effective email campaigns, we would highly recommend a personas led approach,  where you create profiles describing a particular group of your target audience based on their shared interests.  Grouping together these valuable pieces of customer information, such as challenges, goals, needs, pains and responsibilities, will help you create a ‘character profile’ which you can use to tailor your marketing so that you offer a personalised, valuable service. This information goes beyond normal demographic data and provides real insight into the customer’s life. If you want to enhance your understanding of your customers, check out one of Pancentric Digital’s Design Thinking workshops.

 

Data

Having the data that enables you to achieve your customer personalisation goals is imperative. For tips on how to acquire data click here. If you want more information on how best to retain your current customers try this one. However you decide to get your data in place, we’re going to assume you have done a great job of it, and skip ahead to the part everyone is waiting for….’How do I turn my data into relevant, personalised emails for my customers?’.

 

 

Dynamic Content

Dynamic or ‘Conditional’ Content allows you to use your customer data to create one email that displays different, unique content to each individual email recipient depending on their customer data. As the marketeer, you set pre-defined rules based on your customer data, so the customer only sees the email content that matches their data. Without this in place, you would have to create multiple emails with every possible content variation of based on your customer profile data (which is messy and time consuming) or just bulk email everyone with one message (which isn’t personalised and far less effective).

Sounds a bit abstract, right? So let’s look at a live example coming to us from the insurance industry. Full transparency here, the example we’re going to show you is an Enabler client, but they are using dynamic content in exactly the right way, so are the perfect example of how you should use dynamic content.  The company in question are Petplan, and we will take you through some examples of how they have used conditional dynamic  content successfully in their automated quote and buy email campaigns.

Below you will see an example of one of PetPlan’s emails with elements of the conditional code sitting within the template. From first glance, it looks like a fairly messy, basic template, however I’m going to show you just how clever this template really is.

– Email Template with Dynamic Conditional Content in Place –

Everywhere you see the phrase {conditional:xxx}, is a section of the email that will change based on the customer it is being sent to. This means, as soon as this email gets uploaded into Enabler, all those sections will look completely different and, most importantly, 100% personalised for each individual customer. Conditional elements can comprise of text copy, images, or a combination of the two.

Secondly, wherever you see {recipient_x_number}, that part of the email will also change to include a personal detail about the customer. This could be anything from their policy ID number to their name (or in PetPlan’s case, the pet’s name. )

Now let’s take a look at what that email would look like for a customer. (For the purposes of this, we have set created a fake customer within the Petplan system).

– Email Template with Customer Data Controlling the Dynamic Content –

As you can see, this looks like a totally different email. You will notice that images and copy have sprouted in all areas of the email, causing the look and feel of the email to change.

Let’s walk through the different elements which change based on the dynamic conditional content set up within the backend system of Enabler:

  • Images – the co-branding logo, pet image, roundel, and plan details all change based on customer information.

  • Alt text – the copy sitting behind each of those images will change based on the image itself, providing a fallback option if the customer has their images set to not display.

  • Lists – the ticks and bullet points in the two lower sections all change based on customer information.

  • Copy – there are too many instances of these to point each one out, but everything from the pets name, down to whether a sentence says ‘need’ or ‘needs’ changes based on customer information.

  • Terms and conditions – depending on the co-branding on the email, an extra paragraph will feature in the terms and conditions of the email. This will not be visible if co-branding is not in place.

  • Cover section – this whole section changes depending on which plan the customer has chosen. For this example, I have not chosen a plan, so I’m seeing all the options. However, let’s assume I had chosen the Covered For Life® 12k option, it would look more like this:

The best part about conditional content within Enabler is that you have a fallback option. This means if for some reason not all the data is held about the customer, (for example they are not sure which plan the customer has selected as in the example above) they will see a default view. This can be carefully chosen depending on what next step we want customer to take.

 

Benefits of Using Dynamic Content

Aside from the massive time saving benefits from an email deploying perspective, this style of email set-up will also save time in the future. Imagine having set up one template per customer variation. Not only would you be wasting time creating and testing all those emails, but when it came to updating them, you would also waste a lot of time. Even if you had one line of copy to change in each email, you may have to do it upwards of thirty times. In these conditional templates, you make the change once, and can then generate mass tests from the one template. Similarly, if you need to add something new to the emails, you are doing it once, rather than across a large number of templates.

Petplan are really at the forefront of creating dynamic templates, both from a strategic and build standpoint that put their customers first. From an agency standpoint, this is something we love to see, and the templates are also great fun (for an email nerd anyway) to put together.

However you choose to do your conditional content, make sure your data is in place, you have a great ESP solution in place, and you fully understand your customers before starting to build.

If you are interested in following in Petplan’s footsteps and bringing your email campaigns into the future but your current ESP doesn’t provide the necessary functionality, why not switch to Enabler.

As a marketer, one of your top priorities is likely to be drumming up leads to pass on to the sales team, and you may feel under a lot of pressure to bring do this in large quantities. So we completely understand that buying an email data list might seem like a quick win – access to thousands of new contacts at the click of a “pay now” button sounds like a no-brainer, especially when the lists are advertised as targeted, verified, accurate, and opted-in.

Unfortunately though, the reality is less assured. A purchased data list is very unlikely to provide you with high quality data that enables you to promote your business effectively, and can cause you a whole host of problems which will impact your ability to email legitimate leads in the future.

Here’s Six Reasons to Remember Why Buying Data Is Bad:

1. Quality Is Not Guaranteed

First and foremost, it’s pretty likely that a list you buy will be littered with old or incorrect email addresses, incomplete names, and other problems affecting the deliverability of your email.

2. Bad Delivery Rates = Bounces

The deliverability issues caused by these incorrect / old email addresses could cause your emails to have a very high bounce rate, which will in turn damage your sender reputation by potentially marking your IP address as that of a spammer, further impacting the deliverability of your emails. Read our blog post on spam filters to help avoid getting caught in this vicious circle.

3. Nobody Knows You

It’s likely that the contacts on your list have never heard of your company before, which immediately lowers the chances of them opening your email. You should be sending to people who are already interested in what you’re sending them, such as existing customers who have engaged with your brand and those who have specifically opted in to receive messages from you.

4. Less Engaged Recipients

recent analysis of a company’s email marketing activity found that business areas emailing to opt-in lists achieved open rates 82% higher than the areas emailing to purchased lists. That’s a significant difference! It’s basically not worth your time emailing people who are unlikely to engage; channel your energy into people who want to hear from you.

5. Shared List = Fed-Up Contacts

It may well be the case that other companies have bought the same list as you, meaning that the recipients are already annoyed by all the emails they’re receiving before yours has hit their inbox. You don’t want to join a crowd of ignored competitors.

6. You May Fall Foul Of The Law

Your communications need to be in line with the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (UK) or CAN-SPAM Act (USA), or you could face hefty fines. Unfortunately your email itself may follow the legislation to the letter, but if the email addresses were harvested illegally in the first place, you’ll still be breaking the law. Additionally, from 25th May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force, meaning that the way companies are allowed to store and process personal data will change. Here’s our GDPR guide to help you get to grips with the new regulations.

 

Okay, – so what should you do?

Now we’ve talked you out of buying a list, let’s discuss the six best ways to source your data instead…

1. Attract An Audience With Engaging Content

Produce content that you know people are going to want to read, and make sure that when it goes live it’s been optimised for SEO so that your audience can easily find it (get in touch if you’d like help with this) . The content itself may be blog articles, white papers, a series of top tips, opinion/advice pieces, reviews, templates, or anything else you think would be engaging.

2. Include a Gated Asset

If it’s not enough for people to be reading your content and hopefully contacting you as a result, you can set up a data capture / sign up form that people have to complete before they can view your content. This gives your content a feeling of exclusivity, and also allows you to grow your leads

3. Create a Lead Magnet

Following on from the above, you could also create a lead magnet – this means an irresistible incentive for the customer to give you their contact information, and often comes in the form of a discount code.

4. Use a Reputable Email Service Provider

Doing so will help to protect your sender reputation, and ensure that you’re adhering to spam legislation by providing the tools needed to offer an unsubscribe and process it within 10 days. An email service provider like Enabler is also able to offer comprehensive reporting and testing facilities, allowing you to optimise your emails, and keeps your database up-to-date by logging unsubscribes and bounces and removing them automatically from your mailing lists.

5. Encourage Sign-Ups

Include a sign-up box on every page of your website to offer people maximum opportunity to subscribe to your emails. Keep it simple and quick to complete – all you really need is an email address, but if you must you can also include fields for first and last name.

6. Cross-Channel Promotion

Make the most of your other marketing channels, such as social media and your website, to promote the content of your emails and why people should sign up for them. For example, if you were soon to send an email featuring “Five top tips for x!” you could tweet something along the lines of “Sign up to our emails to discover five top tips for x!” ahead of time.

 

Most of these techniques are targeted towards acquiring new leads, but remember that it’s also super important to retain your existing customers. Firstly (and obviously) your existing customers are likely to repurchase if you look after them, and may also create new customers for you through word-of-mouth and recommendation. You could tap into this by rolling out a refer-a-friend campaign, with a form to capture friends’ details and offer incentives to both your customer and their buddies. There are loads of other ways to build your email lists explored in our Email List Building blog post.

Hopefully you can see that it simply isn’t a worthwhile investment to buy a data list for your emails. There are too many pitfalls and too few chances of success. Instead you should focus on growing your database organically, and maintaining a positive sender reputation. If you’d like help in your email endeavours, give our Enabler team a call on 0207 099 6370, or drop an email to enablermail@pancentric.com.

One of the things we really strive to do in the Enabler team is keep our clients up to date with the latest goings on in the world of email. Sometimes this is a really fun job, and we get to send around well designed emails or provide updates on the latest coding techniques. Sometimes however, we need to make sure everything we and our clients are doing is in line with the current laws and regulations
– *cue sirens*.

In March 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect, and I’m here to tell you what it is, why it affects you, and if there’s anything you need to be doing before GDPR comes into effect.

What is GDPR?

GDPR is a regulation intended to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU). It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. The GDPR aims primarily to give control back to citizens and residents over their personal data, and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulations within the EU.

When the GDPR takes effect, it will replace the data protection directive (officially Directive 95/46/EC) of 1995, and, unlike a directive, it does not require national governments to pass any enabling legislation, and is thus directly binding and applicable.

When is it happening?

The regulation was adopted on 27 April 2016 and becomes enforceable from 25 May 2018 after a two-year transition period.

Who decided it should be a thing?

The European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission.

Why does it affect you?

GDPR will affect every company that uses personal data from any citizen within the EU. If you are collecting email addresses and sending emails to subscribers in the EU, you’ll have to comply with GDPR—no matter where you’re based.

The UK, Germany, France, and other European countries represent valuable markets for many brands. But it’s not just the strategic importance of the market that makes GDPR important for all marketers, it’s also the large number of citizens that the new privacy law will protect.

Information on the specifics of GDPR

I’m going to be upfront with you here, a lot of what the GDPR states is pretty much identical to the current Data Protection Act (DPA).  Just like the DPA, GDPR refers to two types of data: ‘Personal Data’ and ‘Sensitive Personal Data’.  The main difference being that the GDPR’s definition is more detailed and makes it clear that information such as an online identifier, for example an IP address, can be personal data.  By expanding on this definition, it means that GDPR can identify a much wider range of personal identifiers that constitute as personal data.

The main reasoning for this change was that it reflects changes in technology and the way organisations collect information about people.
For most organisations who keep HR records, customer lists or contact details etc, the change to the definition should make little practical difference. You can assume that if you hold information that falls within the scope of the DPA, it will also fall within the scope of the GDPR.

Unlike the DPA’s definition, the GDPR applies to both automated personal data and to manual filing systems where personal data is accessible according to specific criteria.  This could include chronologically ordered sets of manual records containing personal data.

Personal data that has been pseudonymised, for example coded, can fall within the scope of the GDPR depending on how difficult it is to attribute the pseudonym to a particular individual.

The main overall difference is that the GDPR requires that personal data should be:

“(a) processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to individuals;

(b) collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes; further processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes shall not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes;

(c) adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed;

(d) accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay;

(e) kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed; personal data may be stored for longer periods insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by the GDPR in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of individuals;

(f) processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures.”

It also requires that:

“the controller shall be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate, compliance with the principles.”

What do I actually need to do from an Email Marketing perspective?

GDPR touches on several crucial aspects of email marketing, especially regarding how marketers seek, collect and record consent. So without further ado, here’s what you need to know:

Collecting consent will work differently

  • You will only be allowed to send emails to people who’ve opted-in to receive messages. While this has already been the case in most European countries under the EU Privacy Directive, GDPR takes this one step further and specifies the nature of consent that’s required for commercial communication. Starting in May 2018, brands have to collect affirmative consent that is “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous” to be compliant with GDPR.

  • The signup process must inform subscribers about the brand that’s collecting the consent and provide information about the purposes of collecting personal data.

  • Some of the processes previously used to collect data will not be compliant anymore, for example if someone entered their email address to download a whitepaper or provided their contact information to enter a contest? If you didn’t tell them you’d use their personal data to send marketing messages, and if they didn’t actively agree that it is okay to use their data for that very reason, it won’t be legal to add those email addresses to your mailing list.

Recording consent will work differently

  • Under GDPR, you will need to prove and show reasonable evidence that you have complied with the GDPR if challenged. This means GDPR places the burden of proof around consent being given with the company itself.

  • This means you will need to be storing consent forms.

Existing Data

  • If your database includes subscribers whose permissions haven’t been collected according to the GDPR’s standards, or even if they have but you can’t provide sufficient proof of consent for any contacts, you might not be allowed to send email to those subscribers anymore.

  • If you can’t provide this, I would highly recommend running re-permissioning campaigns before March 2018.

Changing existing email programs

Sadly, unless you want to stop engaging with the European market (which we in no way recommend) then you will need to review some of your current email programs. Here are a few ways you can tackle the issue:

  • Set up separate signup processes for subscribers coming from different parts of the world. Customers coming from the EU would have to go through a GDPR-compliant sign-up process, while for United States citizens, everything could remain the same. This is a highly complex and costly solution but would definitely do the trick.

  • Bring your entire database up to GDPR standards and adapt all of your opt-in processes to match the EU requirements. (This is in bold because it’s what we recommend.)

Whether we like it or not, changes to opt-in processes and re-permission campaigns will likely slow down list growth in the short term, however they will help you to make sure that you are only sending emails to subscribers who really want to hear from them, which really will improve your overall list quality.

Umm…what about Brexit?

Yeah I thought you might want to know about that. Just incase you’ve been living under a rock recently, on 23 June 2016 the UK held a referendum to decide whether or not to remain in the EU and the majority voted to leave it.

After the negotiations around how exactly the UK will leave the EU have finished, we will (hopefully) be left with a clearer idea about the extent to which the UK continues to comply with and/or keep up with EU laws and requirements and remains within or outside the European Economic Area.

Either way, it’s most likely that the UK will still be in the EU by March 2018, however, there are some ways you can prepare from a Brexit standpoint:

  • Start to consider which parts of your business operations are established in the UK and may be affected by GDPR.

  • Identify any of the personal data flows from the European Economic Area to the UK. (If the UK also leaves the European Economic Area at the time of leaving the EU, the flow of personal data from the European Economic Area countries to the UK will become prohibited without new adequate safeguard measures being adopted).

  • Monitor the UK data protection authority’s statements on Brexit, GDPR and how to remain compliant – current ICO guidance is to continue to prepare for GDPR.

What if I just do…nothing?

In short, don’t do nothing… which I know is a double negative, but hopefully you get the idea. With the introduction of GDPR, also comes some hefty fines for not being compliant. Fines come in the form of up to €20 Million or 4% of a brand’s total global annual turnover (whichever is higher).

I mean sure, the authorities probably have more on their hands than going after every company who breaks the law, but they will rely on customers to report any breaches as well. Basically it’s best to comply and not put yourself and your company at risk.

Resources on GDPR:

Any legislation change can be daunting, but fear not, we’re here to help! If you need any help with sorting out email practices before March 2018, get in touch and we’ll get one of our email consultants to help you out.

“If you were a web font, what web font would you be?”

I was once asked a very similar question in a job interview, but that time it involved biscuits.

“If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be?”  It’s personal preference, and there is a wide choice of biscuits out there…and it’s the same with fonts, with designers and developers enjoying an immensely varied selection of standard ‘Web Safe Fonts’ or the more daring ‘Web Fonts’.

(And for those still wondering about my choice – it’s the Bourbon biscuit, always the Bourbon.)

 

Safety in letters

So what are the differences between Web Safe Fonts and Web Fonts?

Web Safe Fonts

These are the standard available system fonts found on everyone’s operating system. So it is ‘safe’ to assume it will render correctly across email clients and platforms.

The most common Web Safe Fonts include:

  • Arial/Arial Black

  • Helvetica

  • Times/Times New Roman

  • Courier/Courier New

  • Palatino

  • Georgia

  • Garamond

  • Bookman

  • Comic Sans

  • Trebuchet

  • Impact

  • Verdana

Out of these Helvetica and Arial are the standard fonts of choice, whereas others are frowned upon… like Comic Sans.

Comic Sans was released with Windows 95, it had a bright start in life, and this was possibly it’s downfall. “Hmm that Times New Roman header is just too serious, what can I use that’s more fun and quirky… Comic Sans, it even sounds fun.” The font was overused and wasn’t a good font to start with. The character weight too heavy and poor kerning (the space between characters) made it a designers arch enemy.

 

Web Fonts

These are licensed fonts, hosted and accessible either by purchase and download, or linked/imported via a host site like Google Fonts. Although these web fonts provide you with a much wider choice of fonts, they don’t yet all render 100% across all devices, so you should use them wisely.

At present, a small range of email clients accept web fonts, including:

  • Android (default mail, not Gmail app)

  • AOL Mail

  • Apple Mail

  • iOS Mail

  • Outlook 2000

  • Outlook.com app

  • Thunderbird

However this small number does cover the majority of the top 10 email clients being used today.

Google Fonts started up 7 years ago and provides fonts for free, but if none of the 800+ Font Families float your boat, you can always purchase fonts from numerous web font services, including:

Obviously hosting your own fonts is safer than relying upon a third party server. On the off chance that Google gets bored of providing free fonts and decides to stop the whole project, at least your “Gotham” won’t become “Georgia”.

Ideally web fonts should be an email designer/developer’s preference, the varied choice and potential impact of a unique font could help boost opens and drive click through rates, and without sounding like a supermarket advert, every little helps.

 

Web Safe or Not Web Safe?  That Is The Font Question…

The ability for your fonts to render properly in someone’s inbox can actually have a big impact on your click through rates, and not always in a positive way, so your choice between web safe fonts and web fonts is sometimes more than just a style choice.

For instance, you might think that ‘Lato’ font looks great in your new email newsletter, and when you see the ridiculously high click through rates of  70-80% you think you’re campaign has been a roaring successful. But when you look more closely, you discover that the majority of those clicks were people clicking a ‘download font’ link prompted by their device or browser because it doesn’t have or support the ‘Lato’ font.  This ‘download font’ link has now completely skewed all your click through rates and reporting stats.

So, think carefully before you choose a web font instead of a web safe one.

Now that you’ve made your font choice, let’s get them coded into your email.

 

Adding Web Safe Fonts To Your Emails

Looking at web safe fonts first, these would sit in the html as inline styles, like so:
(for this instance, we’ve chosen ‘Georgia’ as our web safe font)

<td align=”left” style=”font-family: Georgia, Arial, Times, serif; font-size:20px; line-height:30px; color:#000000;”>Extra, extra, read all about it</td>

Notice that the font-family has others listed after your initial or main font ‘Georgia’, this means that if for some reason Georgia doesn’t render in your email, ‘Arial’ will be next, then ‘Times’ and so on and so on – these are what is known as fallback fonts.

Outlook 2007/10/13 have Times New Roman as their default fallback font. Even if you set your own fallback fonts within your code, Outlook will ignore them.  However, if you want to avoid Times New Roman, this can be fixed with some code in the header:

<!–[if mso]>
<style type=”text/css”>
body, table, td {font-family: Georgia, Arial, sans-serif, Helvetica !important;}
</style>
<![endif]–>

 

Adding Web Fonts

We can add web fonts in a number of ways, but all are added to the head stylesheet of the email. As an example let’s use the popular Google ‘Roboto’ font.(https://fonts.google.com/specimen/Roboto)

After you have selected the “Roboto” font you will be given a Link or @import option.

<link href=”https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Roboto” rel=”stylesheet”>

Or

@import url(‘https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Roboto’);

Then to call the font you use font-family as normal:

<td align=”left” style=”font-family: ‘Roboto’, sans-serif; font-size:20px; line-height:30px; color:#000000;”>Extra, extra, read all about it</td>

The difference between Link or @import is the loading. @import waits until the html code is loaded, causing a delay to display, and a possible jump between the fallback font and the web font. Link is the opposite, it will load inline first as the code is read from top to bottom. Depending on the font used it could cause a delay for the whole email to display.

Link also offers the option of preferred or alternative style sheets.

The last font option is @font-face, this is possibly the most precise web font method.
It allows you to pick the file format from .woff, .woff2, .ttf, .eot & .svg. The former .woff format being a email developer’s choice, due to more email support.

@font-face can be dropped into the head style sheet just like @import and Link, and looks like this:

@font-face {
font-family: ‘Roboto’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 400;
src: local(‘Roboto’), local(‘Roboto-Regular’), url(https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/roboto/v16/DDBbt_SKtg0EqyMEnMOuTX-_kf6ByYO6CLYdB4HQE-Y.woff) format(‘woff’); unicode-range: U+0460-052F, U+20B4, U+2DE0-2DFF, U+A640-A69F;}

If you are obtaining the font from a provider like Google Fonts you will need to copy the url in the provided link and paste it into Internet Explorer or Safari to view the @font-face.

<link href=”https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Roboto” rel=”stylesheet”>

 

There’s always an Alternative

Don’t forget your images Alt text, the web fonts have limited platform rendering, but there is no harm in adding some style. We are not talking anything fancy like a Velour jumpsuit and house slippers here, after all this is just the text that loads when your email image doesn’t.

That Alt text can be styled with font-family, font-size, font-colour, text-decoration etc. try and match the image style, and get your email looking good even before the images are loaded.

<img src=“images/grandpa-style.jpg” width=”200″ height=”40″ alt=“Grandpa Style” style=“font-size:16px; font-weight: bold; font-family: ‘Roboto’, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; color:#000000;”/>

 

Put the kettle on

So break open the packet of Bourbon biscuits, put the kettle on for a brew and go crazy with the multitude of font families at your fingertips.

Emojis are everywhere…on social media platforms, blogs, text messages, and now they are even in movies. They are used by almost everyone – even your grandma (once she’s worked out how her smartphone works).  Although you personally might not use them, it is highly likely that someone has sent you an emoji on more than one occasion by now.

One platform where emojis are undoubtedly quite useful is email marketing; especially when your open rates are at stake!

With marketers making every effort to cut through the noise within the inbox and get their message seen by their target audience, emojis come in quite handy.  When used appropriately, these little emojis can be a huge help with increasing open rates.

Before choosing whether to use or ignore them, perhaps have a quick read about our experience with emojis and what we really think of them. There’s no stopping these little guys, with 56 new emojis moving onto your smartphone this autumn, so if you are thinking about using emojis within your email marketing we have some helpful advice…

The best way to really maximise the impact of these little icons and really drive increased engagement is to place them within your subject lines.

 

Emoji-Style Subject Lines

One excellent example of emojis within your subject lines is when they are used as an extension of your brand. For example, if you are a music company selling gig tickets, you could use a speaker emoji in a subject line:

Another attention grabbing example is the one I from travel agent, as shown below. The company was able to convey the call to action: Book a trip > Get on the plane > Enjoy the sunshine, all through the use of emojis.  With emojis taking up so few characters, they free up valuable space for this tech-savvy travel to convey their CTA hook: a ‘discount’ and sale’.

And here is my favourite one, from a fashion retailer who has taken email personalisation and targeted data to the emoji level. Not only did they send a birthday message, they also included a birthday balloon in the subject line:

Why Use Emoji Subject Lines?  They Help Boost Open Rates

There’s something about an emoji that simply makes people want to click. Why? The answer to that is actually quite interesting. According to TNW (The Next Web), when we see a face emoji online, the same parts of our brain react as when we look at a real human face hence the instant engagement with emoji. Our mood adjusts depending on the emoji’s association in our brain and sometimes we even mimic the emoji’s face expression subconsciously. At this point we engage with the emoji by opening an email/ reading an article or anything else that call-to-action (CTA) asks us to do as we empathize with these online avatars.

 

How To Use Emojis In Your Emails:

Inserting emoji is as simple as copying an emoji from a website/ document and pasting it into a subject line of your email. However to ensure the symbol displays correctly, make sure you test the email by sending it to yourself and your colleagues.

There are, however a few things that could go wrong when using emojis in the subject lines.  For example, the email client might not support emojis in the subject line, displaying the symbol ‘▢’instead.

The emojis will display differently depending on recipients’ operating system (see example right). Most browsers support emoji on iOS, OS X, Android and Windows operating systems.

For more info on emoji compatibility with emails and browsers, here are some helpful links:

Litmus – Emoji Support in Email

Can I Emoji – Browser Support

We’ve found a useful site where you can choose emojis and check how they would render within a different inboxes.

 

 

 

 

Emojis – Are They Good Or Bad?

 

It depends. As shown above, when used appropriately, emojis can convey emotions or act as an extension of your brand.  They also help shorten subject lines (1 emoji = 1 character), boost open rates and in turn click-through rates.

There is however, a risk of overusing or even misusing emojis. A big no-no for emoji use would be to insert an emoji within the main body of an email, especially if the context of the email is serious or has a professional target audience.

We also recommended to not replace words with emojis. The reason for that is the fact that recipients can’t always figure out what message the sender is trying to convey. For example a sentence ‘Have a Nice Day’, when used with an emoji would read as follows:

Everyone interprets an emoji symbol differently, so the question is – will your recipients correctly guess the word you are trying to replace? This is only a simple example but as you can imagine, the more complex the sentence the lesser chance the recipient will decrypt your message correctly.

There is also a risk that the emoji will not display at all or display as a question mark or empty box symbol and so the recipient would read ‘Have a � day. ‘

 

Think Before You Emoji

Emjois might seem like fun, but you should consider their use carefully.  You should avoid using them for sensitive or important matters as it may irritate or offend your recipients, as you could be seen to be trivialising the subject matter.

One recently unfortunate use of emojis that backfired was with an American politician who asked young voters on social media platforms to express their opinion on student loan debt using 3 emojis. What could possibly go wrong?  Quite a bit.

By using emojis in this fashion your target audience is likely to feel (as was the case here) that you are not taking them or the subject matter seriously.

You should also consider your brand and whether using emojis is appropriate for your tone of voice.  Some brands may be able to use emojis in the main body of the email copy, for example toys manufacturer or other brands that target younger audiences or millennials (apparently the latter are inseparable from emojis).

So always ask whether emojis are appropriate for your brand, and think carefully about the icons you choose and how you place them within your emails.

However you decide to implement them, please…

…use emojis responsibly.

So you’ve created the perfect email.  The HTML, CSS and design have all united together in a beautiful choreography, like a ballet dancer waiting to wow their audience.  Now – the last thing you want is for your email’s inbox performance to display View Online or Unsubscribe links as the first act people see.

You need to make an impact in the inbox, enticing the receiver to open your email above all others, and not delete it in one foul swipe.  “How do I do that?”  I hear you cry.  Fear not friend, Preview Text is your saviour.

What is Preview Text?

Preview Text is the first sentence or words from an email that are displayed in your inbox, under the Sender and Subject Line.

The format in your inbox runs like so:

Sender Name

Subject Line

Preview text

Most email providers, like Enabler, will let you control and customise the preview text that’s displayed in the inbox by allowing you to write your own sentence.  This way you can ensure you grab the attention of your audience before they even open the email, by avoiding the appearance of default text in your Preview Text – because lets face it, View Email Online isn’t really going to drive engagement.

 

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

There are two ways to use the Preview Text:

  1. Displayed in the email at the top

  2. Hidden in the code

More commonly, the Preview Text is hidden away to work it’s magic in the background.  If it’s displayed at the top or head of your email, it is referred to as a Preheader Text.  Don’t worry, you can still use hidden Preview Text alongside your Preheader.  If you set the Preview Text container above the Preheader in the HTML, it will appear first.  This could help push down text you don’t want displayed (like that pesky View Email Online)

Email Header example:

Get the best offers available today

To view email online click here

Email HTML example:

<body>
<div class=“preview-text” style=”display:none;font-size:1px;color:#333333;line-height:1px;max-height:0px;max-width:0px;opacity:0;overflow:hidden;”>Welcome to the new online store. </div>    
    
<table width=”100%”>
    <tr>
        <td align=”center” valign=“top”>
            Get the best offers available today <br>
            To view email online <a href=“##”>click here</a>
        </td>
    </tr>
</table>
</body>

 

Might look complicated, but what this clever piece of HTML does is bump the view email online text out of the inbox preview, like so:

Inbox results example:

Sender Name

Subject Line 

Welcome to the new online store.  Get the best offers available today.

The Preview Text Hack

So everyone has their own inbox display preferences, and sometimes we don’t get the choice.  You could be displaying 1, 2, even 3 lines of preview text, or annoyingly all of it – it all depends on the email provider.  This could result in the above inbox example displaying text you don’t want your audience to see, i.e:

Sender Name

Subject Line 

Welcome to the new online store.  Get the best offers available today. To view email online click here.

But don’t worry, we have it covered.  There’s a little hack that can help with this:

&zwnj;&nbsp;

No… I didn’t just fall on my keyboard and hit the keys at random.  This bizarre-looking strong of code stands for:

  • Zero width non joiners, or &zwnj;

  • Non breaking spaces, or &nbsp;

The idea is &zwnj;&nbsp; repeated will create white space after your preview text, effectively giving you an invisible buffer to bump down the unwanted copy from the Preview Text.

Example:

<div class=“preview-text” style=“display:none;font-size:1px;color:#333333;line-height:1px;max-height:0px;max-width:0px;opacity:0;overflow:hidden;”>Wow that’s short…&zwnj;&nbsp;&zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; Text you don’t want displayed</div>

The result, a beautifully tidy inbox display:

Sender Name

Subject Line 

Wow that’s short…

Emojis in Email

😀 😃 😄 😁 😆 😅 😂

These little characters have been around since the late 90s on our mobile phones.  In 2017, emojis have taken over our messages and have now stepped out of our mobile phones and onto the big screen with ‘Emoji Movie’.  There’s even a World Emoji Day on July 17th.

Now, coming to a subject line near you, the emoji is finding it’s place within your email inbox.

Like in the example above, some companies are opting for the subject line emoji as it can help capture the audiences’ attention, plus it allows you to have a bit of fun with the wide selection of icons available.

However, like a lot of new ideas in email (for example video or GIFs), emojis are not accepted across the board, as they will render differently across different devices and email platforms. Emojis are built around Unicode which is a standard set of figures that will display different emojis, for example:

U+1F602 = 😂

U+1F60D = 😍

U+1F601 = 😁

(A full list of emoji icons and their codes can be found here)

If you are planning on using emojis in your subject lines, test before you send otherwise your hip looking emails might turn out  looking a little square, as this ☐ icon will display if your emoji code can’t be recognised.

 

Roundup

A few more things to take into consideration when composing your Preview Text are:

  • Avoid letting the View Email Online into your Preview Text

  • Think of the Preview Text as a continuation of your Subject Line

  • Try some A/B testing with different Preview Text

  • Try not to repeat what is stated in the Subject Line

  • Test your Emojis

  • Try to use personalisation in your Subject Lines or Preview Text

  • Use the Subject Line or Preview Text to promote scrolling by referencing key points or articles lower down your email.

  • Be mindful of your character count – Preview Text can vary in different email clients and platforms, so don’t leave the best bits until the end.

Preview Text shouldn’t be an afterthought.  These small techniques can help to improve your open and click-through rates, and show your email as being professional and well thought out.

 

So go ahead, try some different combinations of subject lines and preview text.  Test, test, test those combinations, then sit back and watch the positive responses.

Well done!  Your performance is complete and your audience is demanding encores!