Enabler provide best practice advice within content marketing within email, from a multi award-winning email marketing agency, offering top tip advice.

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Increasing profitability, maximising return on investment, improving market share etc, etc… Like any business, these objectives, as well as others, will be something that we all strive to achieve at one time or another… but how?

Well, if your marketing campaigns are not customer-focused and highly engaging, your business could ultimately be shooting themselves in the digital foot. This all comes down to having a good strategy in place that not only piques customers’ initial interest, but continues to nurture over time, ensuring they purchase again and again.

If a business is to grow, keeping those customers on board who have previously engaged or purchased is extremely important. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a strong brand identity that makes your past customers think of your product first over any competitors. For example, when you want to find something out – what do you do?  Straight to Google – in fact it’s even become a verb in itself…!

What Does An Email Campaign Offer?

In today’s social media driven climate, we can spend hours updating statuses, engaging with tweets and hashtags, or even finding the best filter to showcase our big promotion. But even with all these social tools at our disposal, email marketing is still one of (if not the) most cost effective and efficient way of staying at the forefront of your customers’ minds.

According to a study by Workhorse, email marketing drives more conversions than any other digital marketing channel – including search and social.  With that said, it’s worth bearing in mind that content plays a huge part in how a person actually behaves when their smartphone notifies them of the ‘millionth’ email they’ll receive that day.

One of the big advantages email has over other marketing tools is its ability to provide personalisation.  Simple tools such as merge tags can help transform your marketing emails into something that feels far more personal. The table below shows examples of tags we have readily available in our own email platform, Enabler. These tags reference personal data stored within the system’s contact database:

By including a recipient’s first name in the correspondence and/or subject line, it takes your marketing communications away from an impersonal intrusion and into a more personal, friendly place which can be highly beneficial for improving your retention rates, with recipients feels that little pang of appreciation as they realise they are a valued customer. Think about it, we all appreciate that feeling of being welcomed or recognised when walking into our local shop or restaurant, and the same can be said when receiving an email, and goes way beyond just adding their first name.  That added personal touch should be added to all your content communications – from contacting a customer with special offers to wish them a happy birthday, to targeting communications based on their personal shopping habits can all go a long way to continually converting that customer.

Businesses who achieve high customer retention rates will see a better return on investment, it’s as simple as that.

Interesting Facts:

  • 81% of online shoppers who receive emails based on previous habits are likely to purchase as a result of that targeted email (eMarketer)
  • Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter (McKinsey)

So How Can a Business Ensure Customer Retention Via Email?

As previously mentioned, email content will be the main aspect to focus on in terms of grabbing your customer’s attention. Enticing emails that are informative and encourage the person to interact, gives greater opportunity to drive that person towards either a specific website, landing page or document.

A good example of this technique being used successfully is by the product review emails sent by Amazon after purchase:

Not only does it immediately get the customer interacting as it gives them the opportunity to voice their opinion, but it increases traffic to Amazon’s website opening up the likelihood of a repeat purchase or interaction with other products on their site. Additionally, redirecting traffic to specific pages helps with analysing data and segmenting customers into groups, which helps to avoid spamming them in future correspondence…no one wants to receive those dreaded unsubscribe notifications!

There are numerous ways an email can be built, but in order to maximise engagement a combination of the following formula is useful:

  • Unique selling proposition
  • Call to action
  • Product benefits
  • How it works
  • Personalisation
  • Loyalty reward
  • Thank you

Emails that contain some elements of this formula make it easier for your customers to engage, especially if the content stands out. Customers who regularly engage with your brand are more likely to show loyalty if you set them up for success with personalised content, helping to keep customer churn rates low.

In order to maximise interaction with your emails, consider devising campaigns separated five to eight emails; think of it as taking the consumer on a journey, covering aspects of brand explanation, benefits of purchasing and special offers. Without over exaggerating the direct sell, this method shows the customer an in-depth explanation of specific aspects of the campaign which helps to increase brand trust and ultimately persuades them to buy.

Examples of Sticking in Customers’ Minds

Prices Falling with Booking.com

January, or even winter on the whole is a time when many people look for their next holiday destination. While there are many sites out there, Booking.com have a very clever strategy of re-targeting users who have searched for places to stay in a particular area but have (for whatever reason) not made a purchase. The image below is from an email I recently received – from the personalised subject line to the informative content regarding discounted rates, the call to action immediately grabbed my attention reminding me I needed to book accommodation before it was too late. I ultimately did, furthermore receiving a 50% discount for my next booking which will be at the forefront of my mind for future trips, while keeping that lot from the Booking.com retention team happy as well!

Monetary Discount with Treatwell

Treatwell incentivise their customers by offering discounts for future bookings by leaving a review. Their reviewing system is user friendly and encourages a click through in order to receive the £5.00 discount, as well as including a deadline date which also encourages the consumer to act quickly to avoid missing out on the offer.

Free Delivery with UberEATS

Not only does Uber provide us with rides home at a push of a button, they now also bring us our favourite food through their UberEATS app (what would we do without them eh…..?!). Their offer of free delivery to app users is straightforward with a clear call to action (see image below), the smartphone gives the user an image of how to receive the offer, and the inclusion of a promo code gives UberEATS the ability to track and analyse user flow to determine whether the campaign has been successful.

So we can safely say that a business will benefit from implementing a high-quality email campaign strategy, focusing on providing content that invites their customers to interact with their emails. By creating content which either informs your customers about your products or offering incentivised click throughs will definitely help to keep retention rates high.

As long as your business understands its audience and gathers useful, relevant data, it will be able to connect with and apply targeted content to maximise customer interactions.

If you’re interested in putting your business at the forefront of your customers minds, why not join one of our Design Thinking sessions this year.

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 

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.

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.

Inboxes around the world are bombarded by around 205 billion emails every day, so a strong subject line will make or break your email’s chances of being noticed, let alone opened. Discover how an irresistible subject line can help command the attention of your recipient and maximise your chance for engagement.

Write for mobile – short and sweet

On average, over 54%* of emails are opened on a mobile device, and a smaller screen means less space to display your subject line, which puts it in danger of being cut short. To avoid this, always ensure your subject line is no longer than 50 characters. This gives you approximately eight words to play with, which should be plenty to get your key info across, and grab the attention of your recipient’s interest.

 

Let’s get personal… Use their name

Okay, so this isn’t strictly a subject line tip, but it will certainly help improve your open rates. People are more likely to open an email sent from another person than from a company, so put their name in your message and get people curious about what you’ve sent them.
See our previous blog post dedicated to personalisation to find out more.

 

Make the most of the preview text

Most Email Service Providers (ESPs) allow you to edit the preview text that displays next to your subject line, and many recipients use this text as a quick screening tool to decide whether or not they want to open your email. If you begin your email with some interesting facts or an intriguing premise, you could mirror this in the preview text to hook the reader into opening the email. Alternatively, you could do more exciting things with your preview text, such as:

  1. Ask a question in your subject line and answer it in the preview text, e.g. “How Will Your Customers Find Your Website?” or “We’ll let you in on our secret tips…”

  2. Elaborate on the subject line, e.g. “Holiday Deals from £99” or “Go to Spain, Italy or Greece for a Bargain Price.”

  3. Give an incentive to open the email, e.g. “Valentine’s Day Sale” or “Up to 80% off Candles and Scents”

 

Make the recipient feel special

If you haven’t the data, never fear – you don’t just have to rely on the recipient’ name to make your emails stand out with personalisation. Emphasising “you” within your subject lines is a proven way to attract the attention of the reader, with phrases like “Exclusively for You” and “Your Special Selection” to give your subject lines the feel of a personalised message rather than a generic sales email. Done right, your recipient should feel appreciated as a customer and should spark enough intrigue to make them more likely to open the email to find out what you’ve chosen for them.

 

Be like-minded… Help readers to identify with your emails

People like to self-identify and belong to a group – that’s why all of those Buzzfeed quizzes about your favourite Game of Thrones character, or questionnaires about which Hogwarts House you are most likely to get Sorted into are so popular and effective at driving engagement. By segmenting your audience data into relevant categories, you can start identifying different demographics and audience interests that will help you shape your email copy and subject lines. For example, you could target your 18 – 22 year olds at university with “The Broke Student Guide to a Luxury Holiday.”

 

Inject some humour

If you make someone chuckle with your subject line, they are much more inclined to open your email to see what other giggles are in store. A classic pun is often a good choice, or you could take your recipient totally by surprise like Groupon did: “Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)” Cheeky old Groupon did break the 50-characters-maximum rule here, but hats off to them for the wit!

 

Drive action by creating a sense of urgency

People check their email while on the go, and often see a message they intend to come back to, yet promptly forget about it. Don’t let this happen to your emails. By using targeted verbs (action words) in your subject line, you can help drive the recipient to do what you want them to do.  By instilling a sense of urgency, they are more likely to open your email as soon as they see it. Good examples could be “Go On, Treat Yourself”, or “Blink And You Might Miss Out…”

 

Use reverse psychology

‘Trick’ people into opening your email by setting them a challenge, such as “Bet You Didn’t Know This About…” or simply by telling them not to, like Manicube did: “Don’t Open This Email.”  Human nature means that most people will see this and be curious enough to have a nose – just make sure your content is actually worth the trickery, and maintain consistency between the subject line message and your email content so readers don’t actually feel tricked. One of the simplest (but rather unimaginative ways) of linking the subject line and email copy is by saying “Now that we’ve got your attention…” We won’t judge if you want to use it!

 

Incentives drive opens

If all else fails, offer an incentive in your subject line to encourage people to open your email. This might be the promise of a product sample, discount offer, prize draw, mystery surprise or anything else you can offer to get people to open your email (short of blackmail. Don’t do that.) Just try and avoid features which can trigger the dreaded spam filters – words like “Free,” “Click,” “Sale,” writing in ALL CAPITALS, and excessive punctuation “!!! <3”
See our blog on avoiding spam filters for more useful tips on this.

Hopefully this has given you some ideas to run away with. If you fancy a few of them but aren’t sure which would suit your business, try several different subject lines and perform a split-test to find the one that performs best.

If you’ve got a subject line in mind but you’re worried about potentially triggering spam filters, there are some free testing tools online that will give your subject line a score basenabled on how many spam-like elements it has. Subjectline.com is a useful one we would recommend.

If your mind insists on going blank whenever you look at the box for your subject line, give an automatic subject line generator a go. This one is really handy – just pop in your keywords, and it will generate loads of potential subject lines for you to choose from or tweak.

However you decide to formulate your subject line, a key thing to remember is that the tone and language should suit both your audience and the organisation you work for. . If it sounds drastically different from your usual brand voice, the effect will be jarring and strange; you don’t want people to think you’ve been hacked or have started sending spam.  If you’d like to start reaching out to your customers differently, consider it as part of a broader branding shift.

*According to report by Litmus in their 2017 State of Email Report.

As a marketer, there’s nothing worse than the frantic last-minute creation of new content or scrambling for a topic to post about. From erratic emails to hurried hashtags, when it comes to your marketing communications sometimes being reactive isn’t always the best philosophy. Proactively planning your communications ahead of time means that you will always have relevant reading at the ready. More importantly, your business objectives and marketing goals will benefit from having more focused communications that deliver you both richer content and quality results.

Sound good?  Then you need an editorial calendar! Allow me to give you an overview of what exactly editorial calendars are, how to create and use them, and a few tips for generating that sometimes-elusive content…

 

What is an editorial calendar?

Providing a bird’s eye view of your content, an editorial calendar is a fantastic tool to help plan your marketing communications for the year ahead.  It is hugely beneficial when it comes to planning cross-channel promotions as it enables you to consolidate your content planning in one place and maintain a consistent tone across your content. Upcoming industry events, public holidays and topics of audience interest will help inspire your content generation, and allow you to set up a posting schedule for your communications.

Your editorial calendar provides you with a clear overview of your communications, ensuring you maintain a regular active presence across all your communication channels, as well as allowing you to spot any gaps or missed opportunities ahead of time. Build a familiar identity through your calendar content by maintaining a consistent tone of voice, post frequency and choice of topics. By being savvy and planning in advance, you can get your content ‘in the bag’ ahead of time more efficiently, delegating content creation or research amongst your team so you don’t have to single handedly build your calendar.  Be creative and make sure you are using every suitable marketing channel available (social, email, blogs etc) to really maximise your communications effectiveness and achieving your marketing goals.  All-in-all, an editorial calendar ensures your marketing communications remain as time-efficient and engaging as possible.

 

 

Creating your editorial calendar

Start by deciding how you want to set your calendar up; some people swear by spreadsheets, whereas others like to use one of the dedicated tools available (more on these later.)
When you’ve got your format sorted, start by looking ahead and plotting in any industry events such as exhibitions or conferences, as well as internal events such as promotions, seminars, product launches, training or networking sessions your company is looking to deliver. Make notes of any content creation opportunities around these events, such as topics for articles, blogs, email campaigns, photo opportunities or subjects for videos.  Try to ensure you plan your content to suit a range of channels (e.g. social media, website, blog, email) and formats (e.g. article, infographic, video) in mind, so that your communications stay consistent without ending up in a rut with lots of duplicate content.
At this early stage, be sure to meet with others to share ideas, begin to delegate tasks and set deadlines, and keep each other up-to-date with progress going forward.

 

 

Tips for content generation

It’s important to establish the fundamentals of your content before you get posting to ensure that it’s all meaningful – your audience will be able to tell if you’re just posting for the sake of it.

  • Consider the purpose of your content. For example, do you want it to drive lead generation, increase sales, or present your company as a thought leader or raise brand awareness?

  • What sort of audience and customers are you looking to attract?  Think about their possible demographics and how to appeal to them in terms of topics of interest so that the content you post is directly relevant to them, and your time of posting and tone of voice are targeted appropriately.

  • Pin down the resources and skills at your disposal in the office; you may have copywriters, photographers, and designers who would be happy to get on-board and help boost the quality of your content…use them!

Now that you know where you’re going and what you’ve got to work with, you can start to plan your topics…

  • Link your products and services to seasonal holidays and events; ideally you should aim to produce more than just a generic “Merry Christmas” greeting message. For example, if you’re in the property industry link it to successfully selling your house in the winter, if you’re in retail highlight some amazing gifts you sell, and if you’re in the travel industry showcase some amazing holiday destinations for the winter.

  • Not everything has to be an article – remember that content “snippets” are great too – a series of ‘top tips’, for example, or an interesting fact of the week. A balance of light-hearted and informative will make your content well-rounded and broadly appealing.

  • Stuck for content ideas?  You can use HubSpot’s blog topic generator. Enter up to three nouns and let it generate related blog titles for you – it’s great for some quick inspiration!  For something more in-depth, you can use Buzzsumo to see the topics generating the most engagement in your industry and plan your content accordingly.

 

 

Tools and templates to get you ahead

For something simple, you could use an Outlook or Google calendar visible to everyone who will be working on content creation, or an Excel sheet (download HubSpot’s free Excel editorial calendar template – just fill in a quick form). There are however many excellent free or inexpensive tools available online that could help you be even more efficient and create something a bit more special:

 

CoSchedule – Editorial Calendar

This one has been developed by the guys at WordPress, so if you’re already using WordPress as your CRM you can add their editorial calendar as a plug-in and keep everything together. No need to fret if you don’t use WordPress – you can just access your calendar through the CoSchedule website instead. You can start by signing up for a free trial to see if you like it, and will benefit from a helpful tutorial that guides you through the set-up. The interface looks just like a calendar, and it’s very easy to use with drag and drop flexibility. To continue after the free trial, CoSchedule costs from $30 per month.*

 

Trello

This simple platform starts you off with ​​an empty board, to which you need to add ‘sticky note’ like lists and add your content information (topic, deadlines etc). As you begin to build up your lists you will see a calendar start to form, and you can easily shuffle things round by dragging and dropping if you rethink your strategy. It’s also fun and personalisable with different background colours, stickers and colour-coding. The basic version of Trello is free to use, though you can upgrade to a paid version from $9.99 per month.* if you need the extra bells and whistles, which include unlimited “Power-Ups” for your boards, a higher limit on the size of attachments, more personalisation options, greater security, and priority email support

 

Asana

Asana is a project management ​tool​​ which can be used for editorial calendars too. Start by setting up a project and titling it something gloriously imaginative, like “Editorial calendar”, then assign each member of the team their tasks/content to create, grouping each one under the project as you go.  Asana is great fun if you like ticking off lists, has a range of seasonal themes you can select from, and is very straightforward to use.

 

 

 

Hootsuite SproutSocial

These fantastic social media tools allow you to plot in your posts into a calendar with all your links, images and copy well in advance, so that your posts always go out at the exact time you want, creating hassle-free social media management.  Both platforms allow you to view all your social streams in one place, allowing you to view and respond to engagement quickly and efficiently. By planning your content in advance, these platforms allow you to be reactive where it counts, by identifying key influencers and potential leads, and turning them into customers. Gain valuable insight into your audience demographic and interests using the indepth analysis dashboards on both platforms, and helping you tailor future content more effectively to drive further engagement.

 

 

 

Whichever tool you choose, taking the time to set up your editorial calendar will equip you with a valuable asset in your marketing communications. It will allow you to tailor your content to your products and business objectives, and help drive consistent audience engagement. Even better, posting regular interesting content will help to raise your brand awareness, which in turn is likely to lead to more customers and boost your ROI.  This blog should help you get your editorial calendar off the ground, so now all you need to do is source your content and you’re away!

Happy planning! 

Email marketing traditionally has the highest ROI of any digital channel and is one of the most effective tactics to use within an integrated marketing mix.

In an era when existing and potential customers are accessible 24/7 via a smartphone, not optimising your email campaigns for mobile devices could mean you might be missing out on some great opportunities.

You might be surprised to hear that the average adult spends over 20 hours online per week – more than doubling in a decade.  As well as having on average three social media profiles to maintain, your potential customers are browsing online for almost everything. From grocery shopping to booking flights, streaming their favourite programmes or making bank transfers – your customers are doing anything and everything online – so having a strong digital presence is vital.  Although I’d suggest using an integrated marketing mix to target your customers using at least three channels, I’d like to focus on the benefits of one of those core channels: Email Marketing.

Email campaigns are not only designed to generate sales but also to inform, increase brand awareness, advocacy and trust. The most common forms of email marketing are newsletters, lead nurturing, paid email and so called ‘triggered’ email to mention just a few. All of these campaign formats come down to creating content that is of interest to your target audience.
Simple!  Or is it?  It all depends how well you know your target audience.

 

Before you press send: Set your goals

I can’t stress strongly enough the importance of setting campaign specific goals. This helps you to keep your campaign on track, gain meaningful analytics and gauge return on investment.
Before you start planning your email campaign, ask yourself: what do you want to achieve? You may want to drive traffic to your website or social media channels, or promote a product or service. Whatever your goal, setting targets helps you to measure engagement and ROI, draw conclusions, and implement any necessary changes to help improve future campaign performance.
Once you have set clear goals for the campaign, you can start planning content. Although it seems that content is king, there are still many companies out there who do not target their content effectively. There’s nothing more off-putting than wasting a customer’s time by offering them content of no interest to them. It’s also the quickest and most effective way of losing some great prospects by prompting them to press the ‘unsubscribe’ button.

 

Content: Be relevant and be informative

‘What’s relevant content?’  I hear you ask… Well, it depends on factors such as industry, data available, creativity or the abilities of your agency. There are many ways of creating great content.
For the fashion industry it could be all about seasonal trends, latest collaborations or ‘dress to impress’ tips. A company that operates within the steel industry could send their customers a useful guide to different steel grades, examining steel’s strength, parameters and the heat resistance of steel components for relevant industries.  Other ideas for relevant content could be recent changes in legislation that could affect your customers or advising customers about your new products and services.

The simple rule is to do some research on your target audience, via customer satisfaction surveys, seminars, social media monitoring and so on, so they can tell you what content they are likely to engage with.

 

Testing, testing…

Once the email content is finished and the campaign is ready to be sent, it’s time for testing. There are two ways of testing and I suggest you use both methods. The first one is to enter preview mode from the menu to get an overall idea of what the campaign will look like. The second and most accurate method is to send a test email to yourself and your colleagues. You should ask them to proofread it and give feedback on:

•    Subject line
•    Images/ design/ font
•    Links and call to action

When testing, inbox rendering should also be taken into account and that doesn’t mean just sending a test to your smartphone and email. Most customers don’t use the same device as you and as so the HTML will display differently on their device. It is a good idea to send a test to an email rendering service website that enables you to preview how it will display with different email providers such as Outlook, Android, iPhone etc.

Other aspects of email testing are dynamic and personalised content. It’s a good idea to do test sends to ensure all the merge fields like firstname display correctly when sent, and even better to preview test the different data your dynamic content is centred on, i.e. gender, industry etc, to see how the template responds and if it requires adjustment. Once you are satisfied everything looks great, all the links and CTA work, and everything renders correctly, you’re good to go and send your campaign!

 

Time to send

Timing is everything they say and your email campaign is no exception. Depending on your customer base, industry and the time of year, there will be certain times when your email campaign should be sent out in order to be most effective in terms of open rates and responsiveness. There’s numerous blogs out there, each giving you different days and times of when you ‘should’ send your campaign, but the best practice is to track your own campaign data.  Send customers your emails on different days of the week and different times of day, track when the open and click through rates are at their highest – your own data will tell you when’s the best time to send your campaign.

 

Bounce Backs or Unsubscribes?  What to do next…

So you’ve created the right content, chosen the right software and sent the email campaign. But you received an ‘undelivered’ message and your email bounces back. If this happens, common practice is to investigate why the email address is not valid and update it.  The ‘unsubscribed’ list should also be updated after each email campaign. Although it is a shame to see a customer opting out of email communications, it’s essential to update our customers’ preferences after each campaign in line with their request.

 

Tracking is vital

Your email marketing software will have a tracking tool built into it so you can work out what happened once you hit the send button.  As with any other marketing activity, tracking is crucial for measuring campaign success. The most relevant data to capture is delivery rate, open rate and click-through rate.  If you’ve got trackable links, then you should also be recording the traffic and leads your email campaigns have generated to really gauge their ROI effectiveness. Consequently, the more attention you pay to tracking your current campaigns and implementing changes, the greater the chance of future campaign success.

 

Don’t leave it with an email – Follow up

Follow up activities are crucial, especially for product-related, sales-orientated campaigns. Some organisations will gather the list of customers who opened and engaged with the email and follow it up with an additional piece of comms via email, a phone call, snail mail etc to discuss if the customer would like some more information or place an order.

 By contacting those customers who engaged with your initial campaign content, you can start to build relationships with your potential customers and generate new leads.

Moreover, following up enables you to put a voice to your brand that reinforces your campaign message, which should give you more trust with your customers, making them more likely to respond to any future emails you send them and therefore less likely to unsubscribe.

Using these simple tools, you’re sure to build targeted campaigns with content that’s engaging.

Email is just one string in the digital marketer’s bow, but it is probably one of the most vital in helping you build and maintain relationships with your customers and generate revenue.

Ah summertime, that wonderful period of the year where people flee to sunnier climes to get their tan on. Unfortunately, for us marketeers this makes it harder to reach customers as the number of out of office notifications increases. Since we know this happens every summer, how can we adjust our email marketing tactics to ensure we’re being as effective as possible?

 

Don’t run for the sun

Most importantly, do not stop marketing just because the sun comes out. The months may be deathly slow but there are still opportunities to connect with your customers. Your emails may also be more likely to hit the target, as customers potentially have more leisure time over the summer and could be more receptive to your messages.

 

Embrace the challenge

The summer months are a great opportunity to do some testing, especially with content (here are some ideas). It might be time to employ user generated content and experiment to discover what your customers really want. Here’s one example of a brand who took advantage of the summer season and kept their customers interacting:

 

Feel at Home #holidayspam

Three were very clever with this campaign. Travellers are often wary of expensive roaming charges and so avoid using their phone for calls and data while abroad. Three also knew that people love to share their holiday snaps and brag about their experiences abroad. So they decided to tap into this behaviour and counter the fear by emailing customers to confirm there was no extra cost for using their phone in many popular holiday locations. This was a great tactic as it offered added value, solved a problem for customers and made them feel grateful to Three for keeping them connected while away. It’s exactly what any customer would want. Noone wants to pay extra to use their phone when on holiday.

Secondly, Three further encouraged sharing by using #holidayspam and designating 18 vacation destinations around the world where customers could upload and share holiday

pics – at no extra cost. The pictures could be uploaded to both Twitter and Instagram, essentially creating free advertising for Three. To further incentivise sharing, if the customers uploaded a holiday snap at one of these locations using #holidayspam, they were entered into a competition to win an amazing holiday!

In summary, they provided customers with a tangible benefit, made it fun and incentivised it with the chance to win a holiday… which they knew they’d want, as they’re already on holiday! They specifically designed the campaign around the idea of holidays and engaged customers at a time where they were less likely to interact with the brand. The video below shows just how well it worked.

 

 

The key element that I took from the success of this campaign was the mobile aspect of it. Gone are the days where people go to a foreign country and are no longer reachable. People take their phones everywhere and with an increasing amount of places offering free WiFi, emails are always accessible. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever that your emails are fully mobile responsive. Make it easy for people to interact with you. Ensure that your emails are mobile optimised and that any landing pages are too. Read more about making your emails mobile responsive.

 

 

Plan ahead

Over the summer, you need to innovate and work harder with your email marketing to keep your customers engaged. Luckily, much of this can be set up in advance if you use marketing automation. Whilst you might want to send your usual newsletters and one-off campaigns, you can also set up emails to run automatically when a customer meets a certain condition or a combination of conditions. This works particularly well during summer when you’re short staffed. For example, if you’ve set up a summer email campaign that includes a competition, why not include the competition into your welcome programme. This means that every time a new customer signs up to your list, they automatically receive an email telling them about the summer competition. Just remember to take it out of your welcome programme when the competition ends!

 

What about timing?

It’s also important to consider the timing of your campaigns. If people are on holiday, the location data you hold about them might not be so relevant anymore. With this in mind, it’s often better during summer months to do a campaign that could be applicable no matter where you are in the world and not worry so much about the time you send your campaigns. (Although, there’s nothing like doing a bit of send time testing over the summer months to work out what works best for your database). That’s why competitions are so effective, since you can enter no matter where you are. Campaigns that tend to work less well during the summer period (depending on your business that is) are in-store offers. Asking a customer to come into their local branch over the summer isn’t necessarily a great move as there is a reasonable chance they won’t be around to take advantage of it.

 

Let’s play a game

A clever content idea is to use games. There’s nothing worse than being stuck at an airport with nothing to do and brands should take advantage of this opportunity. Create a highly addictive, brand related game that you can push out through email to your customers. Just last summer, I noticed the game ‘Heads Up’ from Ellen DeGeneres being played at an airport by at least five separate groups of people. Games are a great source of data capture too; use a form at the start or end of a game asking your customers to enter their details so their score can be saved. This means you can build your email lists during a time where you thought your email marketing wasn’t going to be as effective.

 

In summer-y

It’s never too early to start preparing your summer campaigns. All the best ones I’ve seen have taken lengthy planning but it’s worth it! You also might want to take holiday yourself, so make sure you have your automation sorted before you go. Summer isn’t the time to abandon your campaigns, it’s an opportunity to get even more creative. Embrace the challenge and have a happy summer emailing!

Email is an excellent way of communicating with your customers and there are always ways to improve interaction. You may have heard the terms ‘AB testing’, ‘split testing’ or ‘multi-variant testing’ being batted around in the marketing world but what is it… and why should you be doing it?

A/B testing is taking two (or more) versions of something and displaying these different versions to selections of users to determine which one works better. The term can be used for many areas of marketing but I’m going to focus on email. With email testing, we look at open rates and click through rates to determine which variant of the email has performed the best.

Well-planned A/B testing can make a huge difference to the effectiveness of your campaigns.

It’s important to test because no database is the same as another and you can’t just rely on research by others and apply it to your own campaigns. Even within industries, there can be huge discrepancies between what works for one company and what works for another.

 

The first thing to do when planning an A/B test is to figure out exactly what you’re trying to improve. Are you looking to improve your open rates or click through rates? Are you trying to work out what type of email best suits your audience or are you testing content? Whatever you’re looking to improve, there’s a test for it. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

 

Subject line

This is one of the first tests I’d recommend running. It’s really effective for boosting open rates. You can try testing anything from the length of the subject line, to using your customer’s names, to referring to the offer in the email. Whatever you do, remember to make them different enough to notice an effect. The great thing with subject lines is that you can test multiple subject lines at once. I’ve run campaigns where we’ve tested up to 10 subject lines in one go!

Subheader

This is the first piece of text within the email template and sometimes also displays alongside the subject line in the recipient’s inbox, depending on the email client. If the first text in your template is ‘Click her to view this email online’ you’re missing out on an additional opportunity to get your message across to your audience.

Headline

As one of the first parts of your email the customer sees, this is a pretty good section to test. You can try posing a question or relating the headline copy to the rest of the email – it’s up to you.

Call to action

This is another section of your email to really dedicate some testing time to. It’s the part of the email which can determine whether your customer takes the action you want. You can test creative look and feel, or the copy itself.

Personalisation

Are you going to use your customers name within the email? How about relevant information? For example, if you work in the insurance industry you might include a policy number or the name of their pet (but maybe only do the pet one if you specialise in pet insurance, otherwise you’re headed down the stalker route!). Personalising an email can help engage your customers. This doesn’t work for all email recipients, which is why it’s perfect for testing. Read our blog on personalisation for more tips and ideas on this subject.

Creative

The layout of your email is one aspect with which you can have endless hours of testing fun. You may decide you want to put different sections of your emails in different places to see what gets more traction from this alternative placement in the design.

Testimonials

This is fairly simple. If you’ve got the testimonials to back up your product, why not try them out to see if they boost engagement?

Time of day

Timing is another effective variable to test. I’ve seen this have more impact with B2B than B2C databases, due to the flow of the work day. For example, some people prefer to check their emails on their commute or during their lunch break but are more likely to interact with them towards the end of the work day on the commute home. However, you may find that your B2C database prefers morning sends to afternoon sends, or vice versa. Either way, it’s an easy and effective aspect to test.

Imagery

Imagery is one of my favourite elements to test, mainly because it’s really interesting to see if customers are affected by imagery. If you have a picture of your product in there, how do users react to it? You can also test placement and quantity of imagery.

Amount of content

Content testing works especially well for blog based emails or newsletters. Providing customers with too many articles can cause a paradox. If there’s too much choice, to the point where the user feels overwhelmed, they may not take any action. However, in other databases you might find that the more content you include in these emails, the more click throughs you get.

Wording of offers

Choice of wording can be applied to almost any area in an email but the one I’ve seen work the best is copy surrounding discounts. Some customers may respond to ‘50% off’, whereas others may prefer seeing ‘£20 off’. How you word your offers can have a big impact on the click through rate, so this is an important consideration for those of you running promotional emails.

Overview

The key thing to remember when selecting a test is to make sure you only do one test at a time. In order to determine what has had the impact on your interaction lift, you need to know exactly what it was that worked. If you try testing subject lines and creatives at the same time, it’s very difficult to pinpoint exactly what made the difference and if one test affected the outcome of another.

The second thing you should do is work out who you are going to test on. As general best practice, I’d always test on a statistically relevant percentage of your data and then roll out the winning result to the rest. This ensures you are exposing the majority of your customers to the winning version.

Thirdly, make sure you’re always keeping a record of the tests you have run and what the outcome was. You can then use these findings, and apply them to subsequent campaigns. Having said this, if you find something that works don’t just stop testing that element. For example, if you find a particular style of subject line that engages your audience don’t just assume this will work for your customers forever.

Imagine you got the same style of subject line for all the emails you received in the next three months ‘Andrew, check out these new offers’…. over and over again. You’d get bored, we all would. When email subscribers get bored, they stop interacting. We call this having ‘list fatigue’ and it happens when brands tactics have gone stale. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, make sure you keep on testing and trying out new things to keep your subscribers interested.

You may find several elements that work really well for you and you can keep these on rotation to use when the previous formula stops working.

A/B testing is such an interesting area of email marketing. It’s a chance to get creative with your emails and really get to know your customers, finding out what makes them tick and improving your results at the same time. I hope you have fun testing your emails and that you boost your campaigns as a result.  And as always, if you have any questions about this subject or what we do here at Enabler, get in touch.

Email opens and click-through rates on mobile and tablets have been increasing consistently in recent years. We’re a generation of smart device users, as shown by the recent statistics of mobile users: 51.7% of all marketing emails are opened on mobile, with a click thru rate of 43.9%. With these statistics it’s imperative, now more than ever, to optimise email for mobile and tablet.

It’s also important to remember that results will be different based on the audience. For example, many B2B emails have lower open rates on mobile and tablet because their end users will be sitting at their desks during the work days and are more likely to open emails on desktop. This will, understandably, change the importance of responsive emails per company.

 

Responsive design email example

Research also shows that email is the best way to reach millennials  and that 80% of millennials sleep with their smartphones by their bedside – so if you’re not optimising email for mobile, you could be alienating key audiences. The main benefit of designing your emails responsively is improving the user journey for your customers. So how do you go about preparing for this?

 

Mobile-first design

This concept was first developed in 2009, to adapt for the increasing amount of users who were interacting with content on smaller devices than their desktop computer. It’s an approach focused around designing for smaller screens first and optimising that experience, then adding more features and content for bigger screens. There are pros and cons to this approach:

Pro #1: The disappointment factor – imagine you’ve spent your time designing a stunning email that does all sorts of fancy things… only to try scaling down for mobile and realising that all the tricks that worked so wonderfully on desktop, don’t translate into mobile. Disappointing. Mobile-first design eliminates this and ensures that your email is cohesive across all devices.

Con #1: Crushing creativity – the problem with mobile-first is that you immediately discard some of your great ideas, just because they won’t work on mobile. Isn’t it better to be as creative as possible for the people who will experience it, rather than limiting yourself?

Pro #2: Selective content – When designing for mobile-first, you have to whittle your content down to its most vital elements. Now you’ve selected the content you most want your users to see, when it comes to the desktop version, you get to figure out how to make it more exciting instead of facing the ‘what to cut’ dilemma.

Con #2: Demoralising – It can be really difficult to get into your design if you are completely restricted from the get-go. It can also be a different design experience, even for little things, like the difference between targeting your email for people to click on, or tap on.

 

As you can see, there are different positives and drawbacks to using mobile-first design, however even if you choose not to go down that route, you can still prepare in other ways:

Font considerations

Think about your font style and size. A key thing to remember when designing for mobile is that the minimum font size displayed on devices such as iPhones is 13 pixels. If you have any font sizes smaller than this in your desktop version, many mobile devices will upscale this and it could make your design look very strange. There is a way around this, which involves adding a small bit of CSS to your code which will override this occurring on the iPhone and keep your text at the font size you want.

 

To scroll or not to scroll?

Think about how far your users have to scroll. Scrolling on a touch-screen is much harder than with a mouse wheel. The best way to avoid unnecessary scrolling is to make sure you’re placing the information you most want users to see at the top of the email.

The other way you can keep your email shorter is to use the ‘hideonmobile’ CSS class, which can be used to hide extra spacing and even images. This will help you display the information your users need to see nearer the top of the email and keep the email relevant, without them losing interest before they’ve got to the good bit.

Where possible, use the tag ‘display:none;’ to hide extraneous elements in your mobile design. For example, social sharing links. These can often be really tricky for users to interact with on mobile (as clicking is easier than specific pixel tapping) even if they are a must- have on desktop.

Keep your single column layouts no wider than 600 pixels. It works the best for mobile devices as your copy is easier to read.
If you’re going to include things like social sharing links, or any buttons in general, try giving them a minimum area of 44 x 44 pixels. These are part of the guidelines Apple sets, and definitely worth adhering to. Fingers were not meant for tiny buttons on mobile.

 

Get creative with your images

Think about how you slice up your images. Is your entire image really something your mobile viewers need to see? You can get creative with how different parts of your images will display on mobile. For example, you may have a header which has text on the left and image on the right. You could slice the header in half and hide the right hand side on mobile. This would reduce the length of your email on mobile. Alternatively you may have a large image on desktop that you only need a part of in order to still get the same effect on mobile.

 

Consider every element

Make sure everything about your campaign works well on mobile. There’s no point sending a beautifully designed, mobile friendly email if the form/survey/landing page users are clicking through to isn’t also responsive. There’s nothing more frustrating as a user than clicking through to a teeny tiny form and having to do the awkward two finger zoom, and select the exact part of the form that you want to fill in, only to miss and end up with your name in the email field and your address as your first name.

A huge percentage of your audience now open their emails on mobile every day, so responsive email isn’t a ‘nice to have’ any more, it’s a must-have. Make sure you’re not missing out on one of the biggest trends email has seen in the last decade and make your emails responsive!