Don’t make these 8 email design mistakes…

Email Design Mistakes

Over half of all email opens happen on mobile devices, and that number only continues to climb. However, opens are high, clicks and conversions are lower on mobile compared to desktop computers, in part because of design mistakes. These rates are rising as marketers figure out how to optimize email design for mobile, but there is a lot of room for improvement.

If your email design is not yet designed for mobile, or you suspect it could be better, avoid these eight mistakes…so more of those opens become clicks, conversions and cash.

  1. Don’t forget that you’re working with a much smaller screen—much. This is perhaps the biggest consideration you must take into account when designing for mobile email. What does that smaller screen mean in the way of best practices? Lots.
  1. For one thing, you have less room for content and imagery above the fold. In addition to the smaller screen, you have smaller attention spans to work with too. Your emails have to rock. Period.
  1. You also have less real estate in general. Sure, you can ask people to scroll and scroll, but should you? No. You’ll need to tighten, tighten, tighten text and keep imagery to a minimum…and then put a lot of work into your landing page, because that’s where you’ll need to drive people if you have more to say than room to say it.
  1. Don’t forget about scrolling. There’s no way around it on a tiny phone, unless you’re doing a stand-alone promo with a clear CTA. However, beware the long scroll. There is a limit to how much you can expect people to do with that thumb!
  1. Don’t use small fonts. No, not because your audience is aging, but because email triage is a reality you’re dealing with and you don’t want to give your recipient any reason at all to delete your email at a glance. A larger font is immediately more appealing on a smartphone screen compared to a small one, because it’s more user friendly.
  1. Don’t use columns. This seems like a no-brainer, but I include it here just in case: Only use a single column when designing for mobile marketing. More than one column turns into a long scroll when rendered on a mobile device. Limiting your design to a single column will reduce your content too, and with mobile email marketing, less really is more.
  1. Don’t forget about contrast. You want to use more contrast in your design because a lot of people keep their phone screens dim to prolong battery life between charges. Remember what I said about larger fonts? A higher contrast results in a more user-friendly email on mobile too.
  1. Don’t cramp your layout. Using more white space is another design consideration for greater appeal when marketing on mobile. That increased use of white space has the same effect as the larger font and higher contrast: It’s more appealing to the eye at first glance, and therefore more likely to help you get those eyeballs to stick around long enough to draw someone into the content.

Although content matters more and testing matters most, design still matters in mobile email marketing. Give email design the attention it requires to be effective despite the limitations of small screens and fat fingers, and watch those clicks and conversions climb.


Art by Justin M. Buoni // Just Justin Art

Words by Scott Hardigree // Email Industries


 

Want better email results? Keep THIS in mind at all times.

Email Attention Spans

The average adult now has a shorter attention span than a goldfish.

There’s a little irony afoot: Although we’ve been battling tiny phone screens with the growing dominance of mobile device usage, those screens have been getting increasingly larger. Yet that doesn’t mean attention spans are getting any bigger.

So even if your prospects have moved up from the 4-inch screen phone to the 5.5-inch screen, that doesn’t mean their attention spans have followed suit—quite the opposite. We live in a world that is constantly vying for our attention, and we therefore have ever less attention to devote to any one thing…including email.

You’re not going to change that. You’re probably a victim of it too. (Hey! Are you paying attention? Facebook can wait. Stay focused. You’re already halfway through this post, and this is important…)

What you can do is—pardon the choice of words—pay attention. It starts with awareness. Know your audience is quickly scanning their inboxes on their phones, swiping mercilessly, and then judging harshly if they do pause long enough to open an email.

You have to do everything you can to stand out in the inbox.

I mean everything. Pull out all the stops. Don’t tweak a subject line and add a pop of red to your email design and call it good. I mean go for broke. Imagine your audience is made up of three-year-olds and how hard you would have to work to grab and keep their attention, and then after all of that, get them to do something.

Now take that mindset and apply it to your mobile email marketing. Break down every little element and make it pop, sizzle and compel:

  • From name or address: If you haven’t considered a compelling From name for your mobile email marketing, you are long overdue. Look at it objectively and be ruthless. You know sales@worldsworstemail.com is a sucky From name. Do something about it.
  • Subject line: And your subject lines—are yours brilliant or blah? Would you open that email on your smart phone or pass it right on by? You have to be bold here, and you have to be willing to test and test and test again.
  • Preheader text: Another area that has to just rock is the preheader Think of this like teaser text instead, and how you will tease your recipient into dying to open your email.
  • Content: OK, you got them to open it! Next your content has to rock! You need laser sharp focus here. Get to the point immediately. And then stick to it. One message per mobile email. Period. Make it super scannable—think bullet points and short text and icons and color blocks and everything that can chunk up your template and visually deliver it in bite-sized pieces. Short. Short. Short. Short.
  • Email design: Pop pop pop! Make that email design something they can’t take their eyes off of! Images, color, contrast, type—use them wisely and use them well, my friend, so you can get those openers to the…
  • …call to action: Your call to action has to be crystal clear. And compelling. If you’ve gotten them this far, don’t lose them now! Test repeatedly until you figure out what this call to action has to be to compel them to click!

Your email anatomy has to differ for mobile marketing, but your mindset does too. You no longer have the luxury of generic From names, mindless preheaders, wishy washy content, or blah design. Attention spans have shrunk. They will only continue to do so. The time to get noticed is now.


Art by Justin M. Buoni // Just Justin Art

Words by Scott Hardigree // Email Industries


 

18 Excuses for Sending More Email

Ideas for sending more email

 

Most marketers would like to send a few extra emails out to their subscribers, to stay top of mind and possibly generate a few more sales. But there’s always the possibility of over-mailing if your not providing value.

If all of your emails are “buy now” ones, then, yes, you’ll most definitely be annoying if you send more of those. However, if you get even just a little bit creative, you can come up with all kinds of excuses to send more email—that subscribers will like to get.

To get your creative juices, we offer up 18 such ideas below…

There are—of course—the obvious reasons to send more email that you’re probably already doing:

  1. “Thank you for your order” emails
  1. Shipping confirmations

But why not keep them in the loop and send an email somewhere between the order being placed and the order being shipped? Why not a…

  1. “We’re working on your order” email?

Also, those “thank you” emails that you send when someone buys, registers or subscribes can be turned into something more, when you do a welcome series that can be just one email or several.

  1. Use a welcome email to acknowledge that someone has joined your list, and then follow up with a series of emails that educate them about your brand.

And on that note, you can…

  1. Do about anything as a series, and that gives you several excuses to email. You can do a “how to” series, for example, just as how to clean/use/maintain/get the most out of something they just bought or downloaded.

Then there’s introducing them to something new, while staying relevant to what they’ve already bought or expressed an interest in:

  1. “You might also like” emails aren’t just for retail. B2B marketers can use them too, to promote additional webinars or whitepapers, for example.

Another way to send more email is by asking your subscribers and customers for input. These kinds of emails not only give you an excuse to show up in the inbox, but can gather you invaluable information as well:

  1. Ask for feedback on a recent purchase, download or webinar.
  1. Ask for feedback on the emails you regularly send. You could ask for the input on the offers, content, frequency and/or design.
  1. Ask for feedback on a website redesign you’re considering or already launched.
  1. Ask them for ideas: What kinds of products or services would they like you to offer?

You can also send more email and be quite helpful when you send:

  1. Reminders about renewal dates, deadlines, sales, and when product is about to run out and should be reordered.

Then there are the more creative reasons to send emails, including:

  1. In celebration of an unusual holiday. Imagine the fun if your customers caught you celebrating Ferret Day, Tiara Day or Get Caught Reading Month, all of which take place during May. If you need ideas for unusual holidays to turn into reasons to send emails, try the Days of the Year
  1. Send a happy anniversary from the day they first subscribed or purchased. This is a chance to show appreciation for their patronage, and maybe re-engage them if they haven’t been engaged in a while. Plus it shows you’re paying attention!
  1. Speaking of re-engaging, “We miss you” emails can be very creative and can also be done as a series.
  1. You can also give them seasonal ideas that might or might not be related to what you’re selling. These can be summer yard care tips or ideas of Mother’s Day gifts…it should be something that’s at least a little bit connected to your business, but it should primarily be useful, helpful and seasonal.
  1. Tell them about upcoming events of interest, whether yours or someone else’s. Perhaps the nonprofit your business gives to is doing a fundraising event, or there’s a movie coming out that has some kind of connection to your business. Turn it into an inbox excuse!
  1. Tell them about something that happened, like opening a new store or branch office, or winning an award. These can be very engaging—not boring—emails if done right! People like to know whom they’re doing business with after all.
  1. And then there’s the “Just because…” email. What if—for no reason whatsoever—you sent an email just because, and you offered them a free download or a discount or you sent them a funny cartoon or video link? No sales pitch, not strings, just because you thought they’d enjoy the “just because…”

These are only ideas to get your creative juices flowing. There are probably as many reasons to send emails as there are subscribers, so go ahead and start brainstorming some today…and find a few more reasons to show up in that inbox in a way people will appreciate.

 

Gerald MarshallGerald Marshall is Head of Operations at Email Industries, the folks behind Indiemark and BlackBox.

The Seven Ducks of Deliverability—and Why You Must Have Them in a Row

When you think marketing, what do you think? Cool logos? Snazzy designs? Compelling copy? Killer offers?

Yes, all of those things are parts of marketing, the kinds of tangible eye candy you can see and react to. But when you’re in the world of email, there’s a hidden side of marketing, the “back end,” if you will. And it’s just as important to put in a stellar effort on the back end that no one sees as the front one that everyone does.

What is this mysterious back end, you ask? I’m talking about deliverability. As marketers, it’s easy to get focused on everything that happens up to the point of hitting Send. But to be effective email marketers, we have to make sure hitting Send gets our emails into as many inboxes as we can. And that requires having your ducks in a row as much as it requires that killer offer.

The Seven Ducks of Deliverability

  1. A DMARC policy
    Are you who you say you are? A DMARC policy says so, and it’s a sound way to authenticate your email so that the major ISPs know your email is trustworthy and actually from you.
  2. A quality list
    When building your email list, I can’t stress enough the importance of choosing quality over quantity. Remember: Your deliverability is will dramatically improved by emailing 1,000 people who want to hear from you vs. 10,000 people who don’t!
  3. A segmented list
    And after you’ve built that quality list, you’re still going to have different customer types. Segment your lists so you’re emailing relevant content to targeted lists rather than generic content to everybody, because it’s the relevant content that engages that helps your deliverability. Your segmentation can be as basic as gender, or as sophisticated as you want with a relational database.
  4. A real From name
    The From name that appears on your emails might seem a trivial matter, but here’s how it matters to deliverability: You need engagement to get deliverability. Engagement can’t happen unless an email is opened. Factors that get people to open emails include the From name and the subject line. So use a real name for your From name or one that is at least intriguing.
  5. A compelling subject line
    Speaking of subject lines, to follow up on the From advice above, your subject line also plays a role in deliverability for the same reasons (need the open to get the engagement to get the deliverability). Spend some serious time on the subject lines, and run some A/B split tests to refine them.
  6. A responsive design
    Depending on which study you turn to, mobile open rates are around 50%, with some studies citing them slightly higher and some lower. Still, about 50% is a significant number, and one that must be taken into account. Here’s why responsive design matters to deliverability: If your emails aren’t opened and engaged with, the major ISPs start to assume that the recipient doesn’t want to here from you and your emails become a.k.a. spam. Using responsive design means improving the chances of someone engaging with your email when it’s opened on a mobile device.
  7. A reason to engage
    Finally, after you have all of the first six deliverability ducks in a row, you must give people a reason to engage. Sure, you can have your DMARC policy, your segmented lists and a responsive design template, but if your subject line is promising something your email doesn’t deliver, you’re not going to get the engagement. The major ISPs have differing definitions of engagement, and you should familiarize yourself with them. But it’s not rocket science. In fact, it’s really pretty basic stuff: Deliver awesome content to people who want to get it in a way they can easily access and engagement just comes naturally.

And make sure you have a cool logo too.

-Scott

scottScott Hardigree is the Founder of Email Industries, the folks behind Indiemark and BlackBox.

Top Reasons People Subscribe to Email Newsletters

Why People Subscribe

What happens when someone subscribes to your email newsletter? No, I mean what really happens? A bartering transaction between your brand and the consumer that involves items of value, that’s what happens. On your side, the value is in the content you are promising. On the consumer’s side, the value is in the email address.

When it comes right down to it, handing over an email address is akin to handing over cash. Consumers are unlikely to think of their email addresses that way, as something with a tangible value. But subconsciously they know they are making an exchange, and they have to want what you have to offer enough to think it’s a fair trade.

Which begs the question, what do people want? What will entice them to subscribe to an email newsletter in the first place?

The most popular reasons for subscribing to email newsletters
Although there are a variety of reasons why someone will subscribe to a certain newsletter (or not), some are more common than others, including:

  • To be entertained: We spend a lot of time in front of our computers or with our smartphones in our hands. It’s nice when some of that time can be spent being entertained with some good email content! And that content can be text, cartoons, photos or even video.
  • To be educated: Many people simply don’t have time to keep up with reading newspapers or books, or pursuing other ways of building their brains. Educational e-newsletter content can appeal to people who want to know more about a certain topic, even your company’s proprietary product that they want to get to know better.
  • To get deals: OK, let’s be honest here and admit that many people subscribe to newsletters only to get exclusive pricing and coupons. As long as you know that is the caliber of the list you’re building and as long as you’re delivering those deals to your list, it’s fine.
  • To be in the know: Speaking of exclusive, there are consumers who have enough brand loyalty to want to be considered an insider to those favorite brands. They will subscribe to newsletters that promise to give them the inside scoop and give them an edge over their friends or colleagues.

You still have to sell your subscriptions
There is another piece to this though, even after you figure out what your ideal audience wants: promoting the email newsletter. Despite all the years we’ve been doing online marketing, I still see websites with a simple “Sign up for Our Newsletter” box that gives me absolutely no reason whatsoever to do so. And then businesses complain that hardly anyone subscribes. Gee, I wonder why…not!

Don’t be that marketer. Instead, sell your newsletter subscription the same way you sell anything else. Tell people why they should subscribe and what they’ll get out of it when they do. You can even offer a sample newsletter, perhaps by putting your most recent issue on your website each month.

Then deliver on your promises each month, so you don’t see your subscribers turn into unsubscribers when only disappointment shows up in their inbox.

Thanks for reading!

-Scott

scottScott Hardigree is the Founder of Email Industries, the folks behind Indiemark and BlackBox.

It’s Time to Humanize Your B2B Email Marketing

Humanize B2B Email

The more things change, the more they stay the same…except in email where change is constant and fast. Although not everyone nor every industry keeps up: I still see old-school subject lines and emails in my inbox every day, so maybe some things do stay the same.

That does not mean they should, however. And if your approach to B2B email marketing hasn’t had a refresh in a while, that might be a good place to start thinking about some changes.

Why your B2B email marketing matters now more than ever
One of the most significant changes has little to do with the content of your emails and everything to do with your ability to track and score leads, and that’s the growing popularity of marketing automation technology for B2B marketing. With CRM systems and marketing automation solutions, prospects can be followed through the sales pipeline and marketed to appropriately at every stage. Which—although it’s not necessarily email marketing—requires changes to approaches in email marketing, because that is a key component to making marketing automation work.

And perhaps the biggest of those changes is to humanize B2B email marketing. Honestly, I can’t believe some of the stuff I still get from corporations: long, wordy, dry emails in a small font that is impossible to read on my smartphone. Especially in light of marketing automation and its reliance on email to do its job, I propose it’s time for B2B email to get with the program and take the user into account with these four approaches:

  1. Be real
    Can I have a dollar for each donotreply@ email that shows up? Please? I’ve got college educations to fund in the future, you know. That’s the extreme example, I admit, but I still see plenty of cold, stiff B2B emails that lack any kind of personality—or indication that a real person was involved in their creation. How about a real person’s name in the From line? For extra credit, how about a real person’s name in the signature too?
  2. Be familiar
    OK, I don’t mean drinking buddies familiar, but the stiff, formal business lingo has got to go. Those people you are marketing to, they get all kinds of emails from friends, families and favorite brands. How do you think your formal, stuffy email message compares to all the warm fuzzies they’re getting everywhere else in the inbox? You don’t have to use slang or call anyone Bro. But be familiar enough to sound like a real person talking about a real problem. (Because the whole reason you’re emailing them in the first place is to help them solve a problem, remember?)
  3. Be responsive
    By this, I mean design for mobile. Chances are really, really good that your email is going to be viewed on a smartphone first, if at all. Use responsive design for your B2B email marketing to ensure your email works no matter where that busy exec is in their day.
  4. Be concise
    Even if you don’t adapt any of the first three ideas, please keep your emails short and sweet. Email is now just one means of communicating, and chances are your audience is also getting texts, Facebook messages, tweets, chat messages and more all at the same time. Get to the point and be sure your call to action is easy to find.

No matter the role email plays in your B2B marketing, make sure it’s keeping up with the changing times and fits in with the expectations of your prospects—who are, after all, human.

-G.

Gerald MarshallGerald Marshall is Head of Operations at Email Industries, the folks behind Indiemark and BlackBox.

Being Negative Can Have a Positive Effect on Your Email Marketing

Being Negative Can Have a Positive Effect on Email Marketing

It has been said that your biggest competitor isn’t your competitor: It’s apathy. That’s because it’s easier to do nothing than to make a change, even if you aren’t happy with your current widget. This willingness to settle for what is rather than try to make things better applies to everything from deodorant to lawn mowers to accounting software. It’s a case of the devil you know vs. the one you don’t: We humans are usually more comfortable with the devil we know.

That’s why it’s okay to sometimes talk about the stuff that hurts in your email copy. Many marketers want to avoid appearing negative in any way in their email content, but that’s actually riskier than being willing to call out pain points.

After all, if you don’t point out that there’s a problem, how can you suggest that there’s a solution? You have to raise a little doubt in the mind of the prospect.

Let’s take deodorant as an example—not because deodorant gets marketed by email (at least not the deodorant I buy), but because the principle applies no matter the product.

So, let’s say we’re going to market this deodorant to males between the ages of 18 and 49. We can go one of two routes in our email marketing:

  • We can extol the virtues of this deodorant, telling them how great it is, how long it lasts, how good it smells, how cheap it is, etc. Anyone who opens this email likely already has a stick of deodorant sitting on his bathroom counter and it works just fine, thank you very much. So why change? Sure, that other brand sounds good, but what a hassle to go buy a new brand when he already has the other one that works “good enough.” We stick with the positive that so many marketers want, but were we effective?
  • Or we can risk being negative. We can use fear, and warn these men of the dangers of inadequate deodorant. For example, we can paint a picture of being on a first date or in an important meeting with a slight stench coming from one’s armpits because his deodorant wasn’t up to the task. We can talk about the poor impression he’ll make on someone if he stinks, and the assumptions people will make about his personal hygiene. Then, we can talk about how our brand of deodorant is X times stronger than the next leading brand and lasts X times longer, suggesting that it’s worth it to buy our brand and not risk the consequences of another.

Yes, it’s negative email copy, but it is designed to plant doubt in the prospect’s mind. When we point out the risks involved with that other deodorant, we switch his thinking from, “My deodorant is good enough,” to, “Is my deodorant good enough?”

Apathy is an issue for just about anyone in marketing, because it’s always going to be easier for someone to stick with what they’re buying than to switch to what you’re selling. Being willing to risk a little negativity in your email content might be just the thing to nudge that prospect a little closer to buying your brand.

I used to drive past a tree-trimming company that advertised their business with a huge banner saying “Are your trees safe?” All of the thousands of us that drove past that business each day were likely all thinking the same thing: Yes, they are.

What the banner should have asked is, “Are your trees dangerous?” Now that’s raising doubt…and it’s a lot more likely to get someone to call and arrange for an assessment of their trees.

Positive vs. negative. Use the one that works.

Thanks for reading!

-Scott

scottScott Hardigree is the Founder of Email Industries, the folks behind Indiemark and BlackBox.

Automated Emails: Rockstar Robots of the Marketing World

Back in the old days, we called them autoresponders. Now, we have several names for it:

  • Automated emails
  • Marketing automation
  • Welcome series
  • Drip campaigns
  • Triggered emails

No matter what you call it now, they all do essentially the same thing; make you a much more productive email marketer.

Why you need to use automated emails

What if you had an employee you never had to pay, who worked 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, who never took sick days for vacation time…think how much more work you could get done in a day, a week, a month, a year with that kind of helping hand smartly and efficiently slaving away for you?

That’s automated email: Your non-stop, always working helper who is warming up your prospects and nurturing your leads and poking your customers, all without ever asking for so much as a paycheck let alone a raise.

Tasks automated emails can do for you

Here are just a few of the many tasks your automated emails can handle for you while you tackle more important tasks:

  • They can build a more meaningful relationship with a new subscriber.
  • They can feed prospects, of your complex sale, a little information at a time rather than overwhelm them.
  • They can reach customers who have recently abandoned their shopping carts or search / browse session, asking them to reengage.
  • They can educate or up-sell customers who have recently made a purchase, teaching those customers how to best use the widget or buy a compatible one.
  • As an added bonus, they can get people used to your emails appearing in the inbox and if you’re doing your job right may improve your deliverability.

These are just a few examples of the jobs automated emails can do for you, but there are countless possibilities.

If you’re struggling with email automation, check out our automated email marketing services. Thanks!

-Scott

scottScott Hardigree is the Founder of Email Industries, the folks behind Indiemark and BlackBox.