The inbox is a tough place.
People get a lot of emails each day. It’s a cutthroat competition amongst businesses to get attention.
One way businesses are getting attention is to be fun or a little quirky.
But for some businesses being fun doesn’t come easy.
Maybe the brand isn’t fun and exciting or maybe you are just conservative by nature.
In order to compete and win over customers you need to stand out.
Let’s look at a few ways companies are having fun with email even if they aren’t fun themselves.
Fun Tip #1 – Use Humor
People like to laugh.
When we laugh we feel good. It’s a physiological reaction to be in a good mood when something makes us smile.
Since buying is an emotional experience it’s good for you if your subscribers feel good as a result of humor.
A funny play on words can make people stop and give extra thought to your email. They’ll smile and those positive vibes will translate to brand recognition and more sales.
Fun Tip #2 – Try Unique Layouts
You probably have a template for your email program.
When was the last time you tried something different?
I’m not talking about changing a few elements or adding in some splashes of color. I’m talking about really changing up the layout with something that will surprise your subscribers.
Sometimes it’s good to mix things up and get a little crazy.
Horizontal emails are becoming more popular. When I received this Fossil email it stood out. I immediately started scrolling to the right to see what was being featured. It was like there was something hidden.
Horizontal scrolling is also much easier on a smartphone or on a tablet. People are used to it so you can use something like this design to change things up and stay fun and hip.
Get crazy with your layouts. Go with something horizontal or even thin and long. Surprise your subscribers and have a little fun.
Fun Tip #3 – Use Fun Words
Images aren’t the only way you can have fun with your email.
The language you use can be fun. Not only can it be fun, you can make it more enjoyable by being snappy and concise.
People respond to short, quick sentences and phrases.
We’re busy and we don’t have time to read novels. Be snappy and fun and you’ll get attention.
Fun Tip #4 – Make Emails Look Awesome with Images “Off”
Have you ever gotten an email where the images were turned off?
You probably have…many times.
When you’re creating designs for your subscribers you probably don’t think that people spend much time looking at the email without the images.
Think of the images off mode in the email as an opportunity to have some fun.
The example above from Pizza Express is a great one. They’re having fun with the images off. People will do a double take when they see it.
Final Thoughts on Making Emails More Fun
Surprisingly it’s not always easy to have fun.
Not all brands are naturally fun, but there are unique things you can do with design and content to have fun and stand out in the inbox.
Try these fun tips and see if you get more response. You should stand out in the inbox and get a little edge on the competition.
And remember to have some fun!
Have you received any holiday emails this year? Yes, that’s meant to be a joke.
If you’re like anyone else with an email address you’ve probably seen hundreds of holiday emails already and some of those probably arrived well before Thanksgiving.
It’s a crazy time of year for the email inbox.
We’ve already talked about the psychology of holiday email purchasing. That was the first time we mentioned “The Holiday Creep”. That phenomenon is obvious this year because we’ve already been exposed to Christmas emails for a month.
Let’s dig further into the holiday email marketing life cycle. Hopefully we can gain a better understanding of how this time of year works for the consumer. There is still time to make adjustments to your email marketing strategy and now is a great time to start thinking about next year.
The Early Birds Get Shopping Out of the Way
The first cycle for the holiday season is the early bird shopping. We’ve been seeing this in our inboxes for the last few weeks.
Retailers are sending out emails that reach for the person that is ready to make their purchases now so they don’t have to worry about it later. These people are ahead of the game. They have their lists ready and they want to make sure they get everything before inventories get low.
The Gander Mountain email above is the perfect example of early bird shopping. Not only can people shop now and get their holiday shopping done, they can save too. It’s a great way to capture the early birds out there looking for early deals while inventory levels are still high.
The Deal Shoppers Wait for the Best Deals
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest days of the year for the deal shoppers. These consumers are the ones that are looking through every newspaper on Thanksgiving cataloging the items they need to get early in the morning on Friday.
It’s a competitive time of year for shoppers and for retailers. In order to stand out you need to be different.
JCP did something completely different this year. They are no longer doing promotions or discounting. Instead, the company is simply focusing on the best pricing. The company also has a new focus on branded merchandise.
There is a good bet that people will still flock into JCP stores on Black Friday to check it out.
The percentage off might not be enough to stand out anymore from the competition. Focus on a merchandise item that is hot or find a way to stand out in the inbox like JCP did this year.
December Shoppers Need Help Making Decisions
December shoppers are an interesting bunch. They’re probably the minority of shoppers out there. They aren’t eager for the holidays. They kind of go about their business for November and once December hits they’re ready to start shopping for family and friends.
The December shopper is not a last minute shopper. They still have a few weeks to get all the things on their list. Perhaps the best way to describe them is to say they need a little help making gift decisions.
Under Armour knows they have things guys need. It might not be a glamorous gift, but every guy could use a new pair of boxers and socks for the New Year. It’s a great gift that every guy would like to have in his stocking for Christmas.
For the December shoppers out there that can figure out what they want it’s good to have a little help. Emails like this one from Under Armour solve that problem with a good tip for a gift.
The Last Minute Shoppers Have No Time for Choices
Then there are the last minute shoppers. These folks are the ones that procrastinate until the last second. In fact, they might need to purchase something on the way to the Christmas part on Christmas Eve.
This shopper might not even need a discount. They need to have a direction on what they should buy and they they’ll buy it.
In fact, what might be best for this consumer is a reminder that this is their last chance for free overnight shipping. That way they’ll still have their item to their home in time for a quick wrapping before putting it under the tree at Grandma’s house.
Actually, that’s a good point. This shopper probably needs wrapping done too. You can grab a few extra bucks from them if you offer a wrapping service.
Final Thoughts on the Life Cycle of Holiday Emails
We’re about halfway through the holiday email purchase life cycle. The more we understand about the shopper and what state of mind they’re in when we email the better chance we have to send them something that will get them to take action.
Hopefully these tips will give you some insight for the last few weeks of the holiday season. You can also get a head start on next year. Now that the holiday is fresh in your mind it’s never too early to get a head start.
“It’s Christmas Day!” said Scrooge to himself. “I haven’t missed it.” A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Christmas is two months away, but already we see signs of the holidays everywhere.
If you open your local newspaper there will be fliers and postcards that fall all over the floor. Turn on the TV and you’ll see commercials promoting new toys and holiday deals. If you go online you’ll already start to see ads and emails for holiday shopping.
Man. We still have Halloween and Thanksgiving to get through.
It looks like the annual holiday creep is upon us. Every year the holidays start earlier and earlier and it can be frustrating as a business (and rewarding) because it’s a non-stop fight for attention in the inbox.
Let’s look at the history of holiday shopping. With understanding about why people shop so early for holiday gifts and how businesses react to those shopping habits we’ll be better prepared for holiday email marketing strategies.
The Psychology of Holiday Shopping
Shopping is an emotional experience.
People are emotional creatures. We live by our emotions for better or for worse. It is difficult to make every decision with a sound, reasonable mind. I’m sure some people can, but they probably don’t have any excitement in their lives.
We need emotions to make life interesting. This is why we love the holidays and why we love holiday shopping. It’s an emotional time and people feed off it.
People tend to spend their money more wisely when they are of sound mind. During the holidays, though, people are not of sound mind at least in some aspects.
For example, would you purchase red wagon for your child or grandchild on a random day in July? Most likely you would not. Your sound mind will think of reasons not to purchase the wagon.
The child already has enough toys.
The child will lose interest after a few minutes.
Wagons are expensive these days.
Now, change the setting of the wagon purchase decision to November from July. Now you have different feelings happening and your mind is distracted. You are seeing commercials on TV of parents and their kids playing in the yard. There are print images in store windows and TV shows are airing holiday specials.
Your brain focuses on good memories from your childhood like the time you received a red wagon for Christmas from Santa.
How can you put a price on that kind of memory?
“Here’s $100. I’ll take one red wagon please.”
For the last 100 years or so the business world has put the marketing machine into full force during the holiday season. Businesses realize that people are emotional and since the holidays are an emotional time it makes sense for businesses to bring out those emotions. It clouds our minds and makes us more apt to make purchases.
Business Reaction to Holiday Shopping
Every year businesses try to extend the holiday shopping season.
The Holiday Creep.
Why do businesses do this?
The longer The Holiday Creep lasts the better chance there is to close a sale. There is a balancing act going on with how much businesses can push the emotional state of the holidays onto people without the effect wearing out.
Businesses push the holiday season out earlier. This is the normal way to increase Holiday Creep. People get in the mood sooner for Christmas. They’ll put out decorations earlier and will start buying seasonal food earlier. It all adds up for businesses.
Urgency is another way businesses cash in every holiday.
We all think about the people that procrastinate every year. These people wait until the last minute to do their holiday shopping. Some businesses will take advantage of these folks toward the end of the season by putting a premium on last minute items and shipping charges.
There is also urgency in the other direction. Businesses are putting pressure on people to purchase items sooner rather than later. The idea is that the popular gifts might run out soon so it’s safer to make the purchase now.
With this going on it can be difficult to understand how your business can manage the entire holiday process. Here are three tips.
How to Create a Holiday Email Marketing Strategy
Tip #1: It’s okay to focus on the emotions of your customer. People are seemingly passionate about pricing. Lots of companies will focus on discounting and promotions for the next two months.
You don’t necessarily need to focus on price to win the inbox. There are other emotions to use to win the attention of your customers. Focus on nostalgia, family and other good feelings that people associate with the holidays. When people feel good they are likely to make a purchase.
Tip #2: Urgency is a powerful emotion. Use it early and use it throughout the holiday season. Schedules fill up during the holidays so there are lots of dates that people need to worry about and plan for. If you can get people ready before those dates they’ll not only buy from you they’ll appreciate the reminder.
Tip #3: Do the work for your customers. Everybody is busy during the holidays. People are busy at work. People are busy on the weekends doing all kinds of things. Then the holidays come along and things get even busier. People are planning and getting ready. Time is precious.
Do something for your customers. Make gift suggestions. Curate for your customers and they’ll be happy to spend money with you. They will realize that you’re helping them save time.
Things are about to get crazy in the email marketing world.
In order to win over some attention in the inbox you’re going to have to get creative. Follow the tips above and you should have a few good strategies heading into the holiday season.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a large retailer or a small business. There is something to gain from the holiday season because people are in the buying mood.
Most people respond to marketing messages according to how they feel about a product rather than logic.
Noted psychologist Robert Plutchik created what is now known as the “wheel of emotions” which describes how emotions are related, which marketers can use to cultivate the desired emotions and response.
Emotional Factors That Influence Engagement
Now let’s explore how as email marketers we can cultivate these emotions in our subscribers, and influence their engagement.
Anticipation: Humans are curious. You can use this to your advantage when crafting your emails. Enticing imagery, trigger words, and teaser content all help to motivate your prospects.
Joy: Happy customers mean well engaged, repeat customers. Keep customers happy by offering valuable content, positive imagery, and well-written copy.
Trust: Your prospects want to feel safe when interacting with your offer. You can build trust through endorsements, well-known referrers, and reviews.
Emotional Factors That Influence Purchases
Research suggests that up to 90% of all purchase decisions are made unconsciously and in a matter of seconds. Below are some emotional factors that can influence those split-second purchase decisions.
No-brainer: People prefer to buy without thinking. If people are required to think too much when interacting with your offer, you are exhausting them, and the subconscious mind doesn’t like that.
Make it easy. Narrow your product choices and cut out unnecessary information.
No Risk: People have a natural aversion to risk. As a general rule, people feel loss more powerfully than they feel gain.
Consider positioning your product as being the “safe” option rather than the “new” option or give them the option to kick-the-tires before committing.
Social Proof: People will follow the crowd. As humans we all like to move with the herd and see what other people like.
Provide your customers with proof that other people are buying, and benefiting from, your product.
An Example of Emotional Email Design and Copy
All of the work we do as creative marketers uses the abilities we have to play with emotion.
But as email marketers we have additional considerations, which run parallel to emotional triggers, such as preview text/panes, image rendering, mobile views and subject line/content/landing page continuity. All of which must also be considered.
Here’s a Breakdown
- Joy: Snappy Headline + Professional Imagery
- Anticipation: Simulated Video Animation + Crisp Body Copy
- Social Proof: “Mind. Blown.” Tweets
- No-brainer: Solo Offer + Clean Call-to-action
- No Risk: Free Trial or Learn More
This email also successfully addresses the limitations of the medium. For example, note how well this email rendered on my mobile device.
Note too this slick screenshot that was created by a new, free service from MailChimp called Smartphones@.
What’s The Takeaway?
If your emails aren’t tuned to resonate with your audience’s emotions, you could be losing business. By cultivating one or more of the desired emotions in your email creative, nay…your email program, you’ll boost click rates, decrease attrition, and grow your revenue.
But remember this…emotional engagement doesn’t begin and end with email creative…but you can use it unleash the power of this creative thinking in all of your marketing or professional endeavors, not just design or copy of the email itself.
P.S. Props to Justine Jordan who created the Litmus email. I’m a fan but not just because she wears an awesome cat hat. Justine’s work reflects that she has strong sense of how aesthetics and copy should work in partnership.
In this free whitepaper, the good folks at Inbox Group explain why welcome emails play a huge role in email marketing, offer tips on the content and timing and structure of welcome, and showcase winning welcome email messages to inspire your own.
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What you’ll learn in this whitepaper:
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Don’t worry, the guys at Inbox Group are very cool. Your registration information will be kept private and used only for non-evil purposes.
#1) Making an Unprofitable First Impression
First contact is typically the best opportunity to move the sale/relationship forward and a common email marketing mistake. Here’s the fix…
Create a Welcome Email that Means Business – A well-crafted, automated ‘welcome email’ will set the proper pace and garner a very nice ROI if the marketer doesn’t beat around the bush or blow smoke. This is the time to drive action and set mutual expectations.
Create an Onboarding Series that Tells the Tale – If the offer can support a series of emails, start now. Besides communicating the full value of the product/service an onboarding series will set the stage for putting an email marketing program on autopilot, the Holy Grail for smart marketers.
#2) Not Working Hard Enough Where it Really Matters
Email marketing eats man-hours and brainpower, so we’ve got to prioritize in order to maximize the human capital investment. But often times the best allocation resources and ROI has nothing to do with campaigns…
Invest More into List Growth – Email marketing is largely a numbers game. The bigger the email list, the more revenue that list will produce (assuming that the subscribers are qualified and receptive). Organic email list growth can seem painful and slow but if marketers would only be more strategic, and execute at every appropriate/feasible opportunity, they will see a substantial lift.
#3) Working Too Hard On the Wrong Things
Let’s face facts; it takes time to create a single email marketing campaign, much less a kick-butt email program. Marketers need to automate at every opportunity if they are to focus on the ROI. Here are two huge time savers…
Connect Your Lists and Applications - The exporting and importing of lists is not only a huge waste of time it’s also ripe for human error. Examples of connecting of customer databases, with that of an email service provider, include syncing lists with a CRM system, e-commerce platform or product recommendation engine. Marketers have already paid for these tools; why do they not use them to their fullest? Not only will syncing applications create efficiency, they can also automatically segment lists by activity, product, you name it. Going further, this will help to increase relevance by sending individualized messages, which are based on the subscriber’s actions and attributes. It’s a onetime fix that most of customers tell us was well worth the expense.
Let Automated Emails Do Most of the Work – Once these automated emails (a.k.a. autoresponders, triggered emails) are locked-down marketers need only to review/test their performance periodically. Even the simplest of today’s email marketing delivery tools offer some form of marketing automation. These triggered includes are typically date or user behavior based; examples include product expiration notices, birthdays/anniversaries, appointment reminders, and recommendations based on historical data.
#4) Sending Too Few Campaigns for the Wrong Reasons
Again, email marketing is a numbers game. Send more email, to more people, and more revenue will be generated. Simple stuff right? Yet this is usually the biggest failure. Here’s two fixes…
Consider Outsourcing Production - As we all know, it takes a considerable amount to time and expertise to plan and execute an email program. If an organization doesn’t have the resources for their program to be effective, managed email marketing services might be the best option.
Test the Frequency Tipping Point - Email is not a marketing channel for the timid. Try sending more campaigns, a lot more. Perhaps the list will tolerate, or even appreciate, a considerable increase in campaign frequency. Test it internally or work with a partner, but test it.
#5) Partying Like It’s 1999
The way in which customers interact with emails has forever changed; mobile readership is growing exponentially, inboxes are busy places, and attention spans are plummeting. You’ve got to future-proof your message framework now…
Update those Crusty Email Templates – A template refresh would ensure that all messages are actionable on desktop and mobile devices, today and tomorrow. Recommendations include the addition of pre-header (preview) text in order to further incentivize an open, organic and seamless personalization using known data, as well as a highly skimable approach to content, fingered-sized bulletproof buttons, and compartmentalized, truncated content to aide mobile email readership and ultimately clicks.
|Now what? As luck would have it we can fix every mistake outlined above and quite a few more, so let’s talk email marketing!|
In case you missed it, here are the slides to the webinar that I (and the team from Mass Transmit) put on last week.
Along with several eye-opening stats and HTML coding tricks, you’ll also find really good tips for creating a one-size-fits-all email template framework, that renders well across mobile devices and desktop clients.
The world was captivated by the 80’s hit ET; the story of a boy who forms a symbiotic relationship with a visitor from another world. Sound familiar? As marketers, how can we capture some of that movie magic and turn your prospects and customers from an ET (email terrestrial) into an EC (engaged customer)?
The First Encounter
Your visitor arrives; through the galaxy of search, past the constellation of social and the WOM nebula to land on your website. The visitor looks around, is this the planet they were searching for? He has some trepidation about your intentions and offerings; spook him and he may take off in one click. To maximize the possibility of communication, or ensure return visits, make sure that your “welcome to our planet” sign-up proposition is prominently displayed and quickly communicates the value of getting to know you better.
The Personal and Human Touch
Although they might look a bit strange at first. Your new friend is more than just an email address. Once you get to know them better, these ‘email terrestrials’ are more human than you might think. So be sure you get to know them in order to effectively communicate with them. The sign-up process can capture the essential information needed. But as time goes by, you can ask for further preferences and use behavioral data to go from a general messaging to ones that are more relevant and targeted.
Using Special Effects
Special effects can give your messages the pop needed in today’s crowded inbox. Email marketing special effects might include discounts, incentives, extremely personalized messages and mixing it up with great design. But they should support the story. A solid story trumps special effects every time. Without a (brand) story to tell, special effects just seem silly. You might as well be watching the Syfy movie of the week. So make sure your messaging is has a heart and wow your audience with great effects.
Bad Guys and Bikes That Fly on Their Own
In the movie our friend ET was protected from the evil “task force”. While most of us will not be hiding customers in our closet, there is always the possibility that they will walk into the hands of the competition. So make sure you monitor your foes and have everything in place to be there when the subscriber is ready to fly, such as cart abandonment, sales cycle, and other triggered emails.
Creating a Blockbuster
With a great story and timely personalized communications, you can make your prospects feel at home, begin to build a relationship, and reduce opt-outs. Turning the ETs (Email terrestrials) into ECs (engaged customers) and maybe even make $ 792 million at the box office.
1) FACE FORWARD
Mention Facebook in the subject line (e.g. “Favorites of Facebook Fans”).
2) KEEP IT SUPER SHORT
Use bullets and slash your copy like a serial killer.
Spend 50% of your time on the subject and preview text, other 50% on everything else (including design).
4) MIRROR IMAGE
A landing page that features the same primary image of the email that links to it will generate a higher response rate than one that does not use the image.
5) STUTTER STEP
Repeat yourself on landing pages. It’s redundant, but it gives the recipient the much needed confirmation that they are at the right place.
6) GO ALL-IN
Create “All in” emails, in which every link except the opt-out goes to the same landing page, rather than multiple calls to action.
7) ALL ROADS LEAD TO REV
Use multiple links and links styles, to the same destination/offer.