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This morning I stumbled across a rather insightful, and well-written article (circa May 2015) by Jowita Ziobro, Director of Web and UX Design by @DelightenUK. Jowita lays out seven predictions on how web development will change in the near future. As email design is a subset of general web design and development, it’s important to know what kind of changes lay in store for the macro web world as some of these, invariably, will filter into the email world.
More importantly, some of these have already filtered into email!
Gestures are the new clicks
Although this may be a no-brainer considering how mobile usage has overtaken desktop—the fact remains that emails are still designed with buttons too small to be tapped by the most nimble of fingers. As touch screen technology marches forward, and the lines between tablets and PCs are blurred with numerous hybrid touch screen models of PCs hitting the marketplace—not to mention the fact that I see more and more people at conferences carrying nothing more than a tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard—touch is the new mouse pointer. Our friends over at Litmus have a bevy of good design advice on how big a button should be on a mobile device to really leverage the platform’s interactivity and make clicking and converting easier.
Images rule (or why the fold is dead!)
If you think back to the sale of Instagram, a few guys creating an app that provides auto-magic filters for square images, then you know how ‘image’ oriented we are as a species. The sale put a premium on the engagement—perhaps obsession—we have with images, image taking and sharing. At one time, the fold was a magical line of demarcation that would separate beachfront property from the other side of the tracks. The task of any email designer worth their salt was to deftly brand that which was ‘above the fold’ and convey enough urgency that someone would be compelled to scroll below the fold to discover the gems that lay just below the surface.
That was so pre-smartphone—welcome to the gesture-driven world obsessed with images. A commentator on NPR once said: “I know that at some point in my life I’ll have taken more pictures than I can possibly ever look at or review.” Images drive interactivity and the fold’s death means liberation for designers that want to use big and bold imagery to define their brand and calls-to-action, or as Jowita puts it: what magazines have been taking for granted for years.
Animation brings it all to life
Animated gifs are coming back in a huge way: I’m seeing more and more animation in my inbox and I think it commiserates with the spirit of gesture (motion) and bigger and bolder imagery defining today’s email design. A quick perusal of the contents of my inbox yielded this gem that takes up nearly the entire ‘fold’ of my external monitor, and by the way it scales beautifully on my iPhone to boot.
And the winner is… … … … Email
According to Jowita, “email has one significant advantage over social: a much higher percentage of people will see what you send them.” I couldn’t agree more with her: all metrics point to higher engagement rates on email vs. social and a higher, more measurable and predictable ROI. It’s not that social lacks utility, or isn’t part of a comprehensive digital marketing and communications strategy, it’s just that email is a richer medium. 140 characters + the massive volume of tweets on any given day means that the message may get lost in the noise. Relying on Facebook’s algorithm, and again a rather high signal to noise ratio on any given news feed, means that conversions are lower and messages fall on deaf ears. Email on the other hand is infinitely searchable in someone’s inbox, offers the added benefit of ‘being there’ when needed as my friend and colleague Alessandra Souers says about the repetitive nature of many retail email cadences. This isn’t to say that you can’t overdo it. Measurement and testing are key to any email marketer’s success.
Things you should consider in email web design…
Jowita lays out a number of interesting pieces of technology that may find their way, over time, into email design such as Web Components and CSS Shapes. A quick list for you to consider and evaluate against your current email template might look something like this:
- Keep it flat and simple (faster load times = less abandonment)
- Bigger buttons for thumbs not mouse pointers
- Simple scrolling with a thumb (even horizontal as that crops up once in a while)
- Use animations to enhance the content and offset the flatness/simplicity
- Don’t be afraid of images and the fold—we’re naturally curious and want to see what comes next
- Invest in email, it has a handsome return
Email Marketing News Digest
It can be hard to say “Goodbye” to your list subscribers, but it’s not necessarily forever. Take some time to make their exit a smooth one and you may well see them again. Aside from optimizing the unsubscribe process, we have a great line-up of articles this week including a new survey that reveals customer preferences for marketing channels, and best practice tips for email engagement and design.
It’s normal to lose 30% of your email list each year due to attrition and that’s perfectly fine. Here are some ways to optimize the process and maybe even keep subscribers from leaving:
- Make it easy to find the unsubscribe button
- Make sure that your unsubscribe page is branded for a good last impression
- Send them to a preference center – sometimes all it takes to keep subscribers from leaving is adjusting the email frequency or personalizing their email experience.
- Get feedback so you can improve the email experience for those who are still on the list.
A survey for Millward Brown Digital shows that 68% of respondents found a text or push message valuable. In addition 59% prefer SMS and push campaigns over other forms of mobile marketing including video advertising, banner, standard display ads and even email. More than 50% indicated that a SMS or push message would persuade them to make a purchase over other forms of mobile marketing.
Return Path’s recent study seeks to discover which email engagement tactics are working better for brands and a summary of the results can be found below.
A recent report revealed that 65% of B2B buyers agreed that emails shape their view of a company. Here are some recommendations on how you can build your company’s brand image through email.
- Have your emails come from a specific person instead of a generic email address to increase open rates.
- Drop HTML for Rich Text to increase engagement rates.
- Speak to customers in a personal tone and have a company personality.
- Keep the call-to-action high on the page and helpful.
Weekly Email Marketing News Digest
DDoS (denial-of-service) attacks have been making headlines in the past few weeks. A number of high profile brands were hit including Spamhaus, CBL, GitHub and Raspberry Pi among others. In other security news, Apple has added two-step authentication for iTunes, App Store and iBookstore consumers.
Moving on to the main event, what’s happening in the email world?
A huge email list together with frequency of mailings has been attributed to Obama’s campaign win. However, site registration pages are often not optimized to be fully effective. David Daniels provides a list of tactics to increase the chances of email acquisition:
- Promote registration and newsletter subscriptions across the site.
- Keep registration forms short.
- Collect customer information incrementally.
- Use standard form-field names.
- Explain registration benefits.
- Ask a basic segmentation question.
- Make opt-in permission clear.
- Confirm age.
- Confirm country.
Help customers opt-in with ease when it comes to receiving email communication on content / company updates. Here are 5 places to consider having an opt-in form:
- Landing Pages
- Free Download Pages
- At the end of Blog Posts
- Headers & Footers
Event emails can be effective in promoting your brand and providing a welcome break from traditional newsletter emails. Here’s one from Universal Music that capitalizes on the Olympics.
Terrain, however, wasn’t quite as effective. Their email newsletter had a compelling subject line, “A Sale of Olympic Proportions”, however the content within had no reference to the Olympics at all.
Mother’s Day is coming up in May, and Experian has some interesting charts and recommendations for email marketers on this special occasion.
Purchases made on the mobile in 2012 amounted to $6.7 billion in 2012. Here are 6 brands that have optimized their emails for the mobile:
- Top Table
- Late Rooms
- John Lewis
Now that you’re building up your email lists through strategically placed opt-in forms and event-themed emails that have been optimized for conversion, what’s next on the agenda?
How about ensuring that those emails that you do send get into the inbox? Each email that doesn’t make it into the inbox represents a lost opportunity for engagement and ultimately conversion.
Email authentication standard, DMARC, blocked 325 million unauthenticated messages in Nov & Dec 2012. Don’t be that statistic. Watch our recorded webinar on DMARC to ensure that your email gets to the intended recipient!
Weekly Email Marketing News Digest
Devastating news for bloggers and journalists this week – Google is shutting down Google Reader. If you’re like me and your livelihood depends on perusing Google Reader’s news feed, you’re probably scrambling to find a replacement (aside from whining incessantly and sobbing uncontrollably on the floor). Here’s a useful read of alternative resources from LifeHacker, Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are the Best Alternatives.
Moving on to email marketing news, we’ve collated a slew of articles with actionable tips for marketers to begin optimizing content and using tactics that could see an immediate improvement in ROI. Enjoy!
The above-the-fold camp may be taking a bit of a hit these days, but here’s an important thought: “Just because people can scroll doesn’t mean that they will”. Just by moving the email sign-up above the fold, a business saw a 30% increase in email list growth.
The problem is that it screams me, me and ME! Here are 7 reasons why email marketing campaigns fail:
1. They’re all about you.
2. They’re not helpful.
3. They’re not timely.
4. They’re not entertaining.
5. You don’t ask questions.
6. You don’t involve your readers.
7. You don’t tell your readers to share.
Digital marketing guru, Christopher Penn argues that email will likely never die – unlike social networks with rapid birth-death cycles. IMAP, POP3 and SMTP are all open standard protocols so it’s easy for anyone to buy and set up a standards-compliant mail server. Not so for social media, where business models are based on exclusive ownership.
I start off my mornings scrolling through a slew of marketing emails. If I see something interesting, I flag some for follow-up in the evening when I have some time to register, sign-up or purchase. Apparently, that’s possibly a behavior that is reflective of the average email consumer.
A study shows that a 40% majority of emails are sent between 8am to 11.59am, but the 16.1% unique open rate, 2.4% unique click rate and 0.13% transaction rate were the lowest among the tested time periods.
Between 8pm and 11.59pm, the 21.7% unique open rate, 4.2% unique click rate, 0.34% transaction rate, $0.48 revenue per email and $246 average order value were significantly higher than the other tested time periods. Days with the lowest email volumes such as Saturday and Sunday had the best response rate at a unique open rate of 17.8% and unique click rate of 2.9%.
Here’s a different way to approach email design – through the lens of neuroscience.
1. Use images of people in email campaigns that evoke emotions you want subscribers to have.
How it works: A part of the brain is wired to solely to process images of faces.
2. Use images of people creatively to support your call to action.
How it works: Our brains are naturally programmed to pay attention to people.
3. Use provocative images that support people’s survival instinct.
How it works: A part of the brain known as “the primitive brain” pays attention to food, danger or sex – things that ensure the survival of the species.
Weekly Email Marketing News Digest
Being an early adopter of DMARC, we’ve always supported industry wide implementation of this standard. Since this week marks the first year anniversary of DMARC’s inception, we’ve been increasing our coverage on the subject in the past month. Today’s weekly digest features more updates on DMARC and of course a quick overview on news making headlines in the email world.
M3AAWG (Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group) has released a series of training videos to help brands and ISPs better protect end users from email scams. The series comprises six 15 to 40 min segments with two separate tracks. One is designed for domain owners and third parties who send email for other companies and the other for ISP and mailbox provider issues.
For those who are unfamiliar with DMARC, here’s a simple illustration to shed some light on the process:
43% of email is now being accessed via mobile devices. In light of this shifting consumer behavior, our client, Thrillist has adopted a mobile-first approach to newsletter design. Currently, 30-40% of Thrillist newsletter visits originate from mobile. Here’s how Thrillist optimized its newsletter for mobile:
- Tailoring images for a smaller format
- Reducing text
- Reducing buttons that clutter mobile screens
- Focusing on contact and location information for venues
- Content saving and sharing functions
- Optimizing ads for mobile
The newsletter redesign saw the following results:
- Mobile visits to the web doubled by 121%
- Email clickthrough increased by 35%
More content doesn’t mean more engagement. Research by a Columbia Business School professor found that too many choices can cause action paralysis and choice can actually be demotivating. Having a single call to action in an email, instead of multiple competing elements could increase clickthrough rates by as much as 17%.
Email marketing metrics and ROI continue to be a problem for some businesses according to DMA. A third of them are unable to calculate revenue earned from email marketing. Of those that could:
- 20% earned more than £51 on every £1 spent.
- 50% earned between £1 to £10 on every £1 spent.
- 56% of respondents expect their company’s email budget to increase
- 62% of businesses earned more than a third of digital revenue through email
- 34% of businesses earned more than 50% of their digital revenue from email marketing
Sometimes a picture says more than a thousand words.
Do you have an example of engaging email content? Is your newsletter optimized for mobile and driving the clicks? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.
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