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Email Rendering and Design Trends

In November I sat through a webinar half listening as I dutifully continued working on other items of importance…or so I thought.  The webinar was called Email Rendering and Design Trends and the slides are attached with some notes.

Here are a few things as I go back and look at the slides I seem to find important.

  1. Personalize messages to drive engagement – I see this more and more in the B2C world companies are adjusting messages to user preferences.
  2. Clean up the design of your emails – I often get emails from companies that are all graphics.  On my mobile I do not allow for image downloads so the email is blank…why would you want your email to appear this way?
  3. Right-time Email Programs – when someone makes a purchase you need to do a follow-up email with a confirmation and another add-on offer.
  4. Ensure you are testing on webmail servers as well as desktop and mobile.
  5. Design for the preview pane – which is often only 320px high.
  6. Pre-headers are a must – does yours say something like “To view this email as a webpage click here”?
    1. It should have some intrinsic value to the message of the mailing like – “Meet your best prospects from Bayer, Motorola, Airbus at the world’s LARGEST advanced manufacturing event.  View this email in a browser or on a mobile device.”
    2. Sometimes people only see your pre-header.
  7. Need most important content “above the fold” in your email – about 420px.
  8. Mobile design tips
    1. 480-600px wide
    2. Fonts minimum of 14px, headlines 22px
    3. Subject: 15 characters
  9. Video does not work in many email clients ye so it is best to know your audience and only include IF they can view it.

Thank you for taking the time to re3ad this, I hope you enjoy the slides.

aaem_live_rendering_session_2011

7 Email Marketing Trends You Cannot Ignore

I read a blog post earlier this week called Three Myths about what customers want and that reminded me of something in the white paper. “A company that treats all customers and prospects the same speaks to everybody, and thus nobody.  Rather than using a ‘one size fits all’ approach, identify the most likely targets for a product or service. Use email to get to know customers better, and then serve them more relevant content.”  Basically, you need to segment your market as much as possible so you can send them relevant information.  I would encourage you to go as far as possible with the segmentation.

For example, lets say you are a book seller with an e-reader device and a membership card.  You frequently send emails to your customer about new and exciting books; fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, cookbooks…you get the idea. From these two products, you can easily figure out how to segment each customer.  You should have a “preferences” page with all of the genres listed and have your customers update their preferences based on genre.  Even better would be to use data from the purchases to figure out what types of genres the customer typically purchases.  If you have a customer that does not purchase children’s books then why send them emails about getting a free children’s book?  I am not saying you should avoid letting this person know about children’s books; instead, information for children’s books should be secondary to the main content of the email message.

 

So, don’t be a one size fits all…be unique!

7things not to avoid in email

20 Quick Tips for Improving Your Email Programs

A few months ago I participated in a webinar and after it was over they sent the document attached to this post.  I wanted to share a few insights from the document with you.

  1. List cleaning does not just mean taking bounced email addresses from the database. “By not sending to customers who haven’t opened or clicked in the past year, senders can lower ISP complaints and gain higher reputation scores – and that leads to better deliverability.”
  2. Keep your “from” name consistent and match it to the brand your customer recognizes.  For a company with multiple brands, customize the from name to the brand your customer is doing business with.
  3. It is okay to reuse subject lines in a specific program.
  4. Use action words in the subject line and let the receiving person know what the offer is.
  5. Content driven subject lines are very effective.
  6. Insert marketing materials into transactional emails – test the placement of this material.
  7. Improve your content with segmentation and ask your audience about their preferences.
  8. The least important metric is opens and clicks over time…the report will always look the same…with a downward pointing tail.

20-tips-for-email-deliverability

Random Email Program Thoughts

I have been trying to think of ways to freshen up our email program here in North America.  Over the last few weeks I have been reevaluating past webinars and workshops I have attended and wanted a place to post all of those little things I have gleaned from the information.  So, this is where I will keep those thoughts for now…I have arranged them by event so if you happen to want more information just let me know.

Online Marketing Summit 2012 – Email 3.0

  1. Look at all information from every department that touches the exhibitor and see what messages can be eliminated and what messages can be combined.
  2. Create a campaign calendar
    1. Involve all groups who touch the exhibitor
    2. At most only email 2 times per month
  3. When a purchase is made, send an add on email 30 minutes to 2 days later.
    1. Studies have shown that if sent within 30 min you have a 90% chance of add on purchase
      1. Sent within 60 minutes 80%
      2. Next day 44%
  4. When someone unsubscribes you should respond with a meaningful message
  5. Get creative in the preheader…don’t just put “If you can’ read this email click here.”  This may be the only thing the user sees.

Online Marketing Summit 2012 – Email Best Practices

  1. Insert reps image in the email – works well in the financial market
  2. Become the customer
    1. Opt-in and see what happens
    2. Make secret transactions
    3. Opt-out to see what happens
    4. Call up and argue/complain to see what happens
    5. Listen to customers when they comment about emails
  3. Let people manage their email preferences; do not assume they want to receive everything from your firm.
  4. When someone unsubscribes, find out why.
    1. Make the unsubscribe page clear so the person know what they are unsubscribing from
    2. Instead of an unsubscribe only area give them the option to edit preferences.

Online Marketing Institute – Advanced Email Marketing

  1. Over 70% of email marked as spam is based solely on the Sender’s name, company names or brand names are not as good as a personal name.
  2. Header should not be one large image, instead upper left should be an HTML headline and move the logo to the right hand side.
  3. B2B – you should not send more than 1 time per month, at most bi-weekly.  Once you go past this boundary you start to upset people.
  4. Design
    1. Pre-header
      1. Put meaningful copy here instead of the “to view” link.  This may be the only place the receiver sees in preview.  Further, the “to view” link does not need to be in the pre-header, it can be lower in the page.
    2. Header
      1. Images on the right
      2. HTML text with style on left
    3. Body
      1. Images should be as small as possible
      2. ALT tags are a must (missing alt tags drive your spam rating higher)
  5. Spammy Words – these words drive your spam rates higher. (Great list of things to remove http://spamassassin.apache.org/tests_3_3_x.html)

 

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  1. Code
    1. Use no DIV – they add to spam score
    2. No CSS in header – it is stripped out of most email clients
    3. Always define the background color
    4. 600 is now the optimum width for screen
    5. Text – first three or four lines should be no more than 30 characters as that is all that shows up to the preview pane then around 72 characters after that
    6. Text – do not use plus or minus as these will in some instances mess up the rendering of the email; instead use > or *
    7. Use proper pixels instead of percents
    8. Use Height and Width for images

2012 Online Marketing Summit

HTML Email an Introduction

So, lately at work I have been charged with creating HTML email campaigns to market the trade shows to exhibitors.  Having a good understanding of HTML and CSS has enabled me to succeed in managing several campaigns.  When I started crafting the emails, I did not understand the process of an HTML based email as I had never done that before.

There are a few things to keep in mind when crafting these emails.

  1. Size of message, not file size but width.
  2. Code both HTML and CSS
  3. Images
  4. Devices used to open the email

Size of Message

You need to keep in mind when crafting the HTML email the size of screen most email programs have for the preview.  This issue is really important as you really do not want people to have to scroll, either horizontally or vertically, more than is needed.  Typically, you should keep your HTML between 650px and 850px for the width, the ultimate size is 650px.  With 650px you can manaage to get your message in most preview screens.

Code – HTML and CSS

When crafting the email, you still need to use proper W3C compliant HTML and CSS.  The big difference is the CSS.  With an HTML email, you can’t use external style sheets because many of the modern email programs block external style sheets.  Instead, you have to put the code inline.  This means you need to style your headers, paragraphs, bullets etc. as you go when crafting the message.

Images

Have you ever gotten an email where the message is a red x in the window?  So have I!  This is very annoying and if you are like me you simply hit “Delete”.  To solve this issue, keep images to a minimum when crafting HTML emails.  The reality is, for the banner of the email you should use a smaller image, say 320px in width.  Then create the rest of the header using CSS.  This achieves two things, first if images are blocked most of the header is still visible to the reader.  Second, if crafted appropriately, your email is more mobile friendly.

Devices Used to Open Mail

If you are using HTML chances are you have an email service.  If you are using one of these services, make sure they give you reports that show the UA String at a minimum.  If you are really lucky, the service will show you the type of device in a separate report.  If you are using the string it is a bit more work to get the information but if you can export the report into Excel, or other spreadsheet, you can do a simple find and replace to highlight different devices.  In a later post I will show you how to read a string and a good free service to use.  Furthermore, I will discuss how to craft an email for mobile devices.