Compelling Email Design

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From retail to technology, CPG to B2B, Aaron Smith reviews what makes an email campaign successful and provides actionable takeaways you can begin to implement immediately in you own email programs. …

From retail to technology, CPG to B2B, Aaron Smith reviews what makes an email campaign successful and provides actionable takeaways you can begin to implement immediately in you own email programs. This session covers creative, copy writing and testing strategies as well as emerging trends in email and cross-channel digital marketing.

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  • In this campaign from Williams-Sonoma, they start off with the right tone – asking a customer service focused question “How can we better serve you.”The copy tells the recipient that it will only take a few minutes, and in a nice touch to add some humanity includes a signature from Chuck Williams himself.
  • The follow-up message is what earns this campaign a nomination. The creative is consistent between the two messages using berries and blue trim to creatively tie the two messages together. Offering a gift (of free shipping, or a percentage off) are good ways of encouraging re-engagement. I like how in this case, they did not start with a promotional offer up front, but sent an offer as a thanks to reward those recipients that took the time to complete the survey.


  • 1.
  • 2. Agenda
    Client Summit – Chicago 2010
    Aaron Smith, Director of Creative Technologies
    Smith-Harmon, a Responsys Company
    The Email Channel
    Lifecycle Marketing with Email
    Case Studies & Testing Strategies
    Industry Trends
  • 3. The Email ChannelPrint, web and email design
    Email is a bit like print…
    • What works for print does not always translate well to email.
    • 4. Recipients rarely see an email in its entirety, so information hierarchy is critical, with the most important information at the top, working down.
    • 5. Images can help tell a story, but if they are too large and take too long to download, or they push the key points too far down along the page, or they are not properly alt-tagged, they hinder rather than help.
    Email is a bit like web…
    • The principles of web design often apply to email, but with notable exceptions.
    • 6. In email, complex coding increases cost and production times as well as jeopardizes rendering and user experience.
    • 7. In email, rich media including forms, scripting and Flash usually don’t render correctly.
    Email is very much it’s
    own medium with it’s own
    set of rules…
  • 8. The Email ChannelThe inbox mindset
    Words to work by“An email is like a retail store window; it needs to reveal just enough to compel viewers to enter the store.” - Lisa Harmon, Principal Smith-Harmon
    • Viewing an email is different from browsing online
    • 9. Viewers are not necessarily looking for something
    • 10. They need to be pulled more vigorously
  • The Email ChannelCreative ingredients – run through this list before you hit send
    • Don't assume your message is compelling! Ask yourself:
    • 11. What is this about?
    • 12. Why should my subscribers care?
    • 13. What do they do about it?
    • 14. Consider the above-the-fold mark and the preview pane
    • 15. Include a good balance of images and text
    • 16. Provide clear primary and alternate calls-to-action
    • 17. Throw in a few bells and whistles
    • 18. Personalize
    • 19. Leverage dynamic content
    • 20. Feature user-generated content
  • The Email ChannelEvolution of the channel
    We are seeing the continuing demise of batch and blast – the least effective method of email marketing – which brings us to…
  • 21. EmailLifecycle Marketing
  • 22. Lifecycle Marketing: The PhilosophyDeliver timely, relevant email that improves subscribers’ lives
    Preferences Collection & Progressive Profiling
    Email Acquisition
  • 23. Lifecycle Marketing: Opt-InAcquiring subscriber email addresses
    Consider pop-up with email opt-inmessaging for first time web site visitors
    Gather only necessary information,primarily email address
    Offer a tangible and reward for opting in
  • 24. Lifecycle Marketing: Opt-InAcquiring subscriber email addresses
    Be clear in your messaging
    Highlight the benefits of being on the mailing list
  • 25. Allow subscribers to choose whichcommunications they want to receive
    When possible, gather information that allows for dynamic messaging
    Request only data that you actually plan to use
    Consider asking subscribers how often theywant to hear from you
    Keep preference centers as short andunintimidating as possible
    Lifecycle Marketing: Preference CenterGathering useful subscriber information
  • 26. Lifecycle Marketing: WelcomeFirst communication with new membersEngaging subscribers with personal information like membership details
  • 27.
    • Series of welcome messages allows the brand to welcome new members and reinforce brand tenets over a period of months
    • 28. Each message focuses on a specific theme and/or brand tenet
    • 29. Provides opportunity for progressive profiling
    Lifecycle Marketing: WelcomeWelcome series
  • 30. Lifecycle Marketing: NewsletterVerizon – Dynamic content
  • 31. Lifecycle Marketing: NewsletterVerizon – Dynamic content
  • 32. Lifecycle Marketing: NewsletterApple – Fitness newsletter
  • 33. Lifecycle Marketing: NewsletterHabeas: B2B newsletter example
    Group content in separate modules
    Include clear content section headers
    Place imagery in an “S-curve” to guide gaze across and down page
    Use button treatment for primary call-to-action
    Include alternate HTML text calls-to-action
    For longer-form mails, include a TOC
  • 34. Opportunities to share
    Surveys and polls
    Requests for feedback
    Press coverage
    Customer reviews and quotes
    Lifecycle Marketing: NewsletterTips for encouraging engagement through conversation
  • 35. Choose whether to be overt or discrete
    Keep message simple and focused
    The possibilities are endless
    Lifecycle Marketing: TriggeredMessaging based on behavior, pastpurchases or preferences
  • 36. Lifecycle Marketing: PromotionalLondon Hotel NYC
  • 37. Lifecycle Marketing: PromotionalApple’s Valentines Campaign
  • 38. Lifecycle Marketing: PromotionalBanana Republic – Clipped Campaign
  • 39. Lifecycle Marketing: ConfirmationResponding to subscriber actions
    Welcomes guests or, for cancellations, offers to assist with future reservations
    Calls out preferred guest detailsand links to account
    Includes all transaction informationfor reference
    Incorporates links to information about the hotel services and amenities as well the surrounding area
    Templatized approach makes it easy to leverage across multiple brands
  • 40. Lifecycle Marketing: ConfirmationResponding to subscriber actions
  • 41. Strengths
    Uses "abandoned cart" messaging toreengage subscribers who have visitedtheir site and recently performed a search
    Contains information about previous flight search
    Incorporates flight booking module
    Promotes hotel deals in destination city
    Lifecycle Marketing: Abandoned CartResponding to subscriber actions
  • 42. Lifecycle Marketing: Thank YouResponding to subscriber actions
    Includes special offers and rewards as a thank you
    Reinforces subscriber’s relationship with the brand
    Encourages updating personal profile by entering subscriber for a chance to a win a free cruise
    Promotes advantages of becoming part ofHolland America social community
  • 43. Lifecycle Marketing: BirthdayResponding to subscriber actions
    Acknowledge subscribers' birthdayswith birthday message, especially if birthday information is requested in signup
    Strengthen customer relationship by offering a discount, promotion or complimentary gift
  • 44. Lifecycle Marketing: Password ResetResponding to subscriber actions
    Reinforces brand with fun and quirky copy
  • 45. Keep copy tone positive
    Ask customers to update profile to receive more targeted messaging
    Send a survey
    Consider using an offer to encourage purchase
    If attempt is unsuccessful, consider:
    • Reducing frequency,email only once or twice quarterly
    • 46. Prompt subscriber to re-opt-in
    Lifecycle Marketing: Win-BackReengaging subscribers
  • 47. Lifecycle Marketing: Win-BackWilliams-Sonoma
  • 48. Lifecycle Marketing: Win-BackWilliams-Sonoma
  • 49. Lifecycle Marketing: Win-BackWilliams-Sonoma
  • 50. Lifecycle Marketing: Loyalty Program Personalizing communicationsCreating a new class of exclusive emails for engaged subscribers
    Email subscribers get exclusive benefits
    when they sign up for the Beauty Insider:
    Rewarded: exclusive samples
    Privileged: exlusive access
    Personal: tips and products
    Gifted: birthday gift
  • 51. Lifecycle Marketing: Loyalty Personalizing communications
  • 52. Lifecycle Marketing: LoyaltyPersonalizing communications
  • 53. Lifecycle Marketing: Loyalty Personalizing communicationsDelivering on the promise
    Insiders receive one point for
    every dollar spent on
    merchandise at
    or in Sephora retail stores.
    Every time they accumulate
    100 points in their Beauty Bank,
    they can choose 1 Beauty
    Insider Deluxe Sample with
  • 54. Case Studiesand testing strategies
  • 55. Test the effects of a creative makeover on a single email campaign.
    © 2008 Smith-Harmon, Inc.
    Case StudyMakeover: Project Summary
  • 56. Case StudyMakeover: Challenge, Solution and Results
    Prove to REI marketing VPs that theright email creative can impact ROI
    Perform an A/B split test with legacy vs. optimized email template
    New template generated a significant 22% increase in unique click-through
    New template generated an astounding 90% increase in traffic to shoes specialty shop
    REI Email Marketing Manager received the support of VPs to move forward with an entire suite of redesigned, maximized email creative templates in time for the critical Q4 period
  • 57. Case Study
    Templates: Project Summary
    Alaska Airlines needed to create an effective, on-brand library of flexible email creative templates to support complex marketing and triggered email programs.
    © 2008 Smith-Harmon, Inc.
  • 58. Challenge:
    Increase revenue and interaction
    Improve reader experience
    Optimize over 20 email templatesthrough application of creative best practices
    Perform an A/B split test with new versus old email templates
    The new template for the newsletter – Alaska’s highest-grossing email vehicle – inspired an amazing 41% lift in revenue, increasing revenue-per-mail rate from $0.57 to $0.80
    The new newsletter design achieved greater reader interaction, generating a 13% lift in click-through rate
    Case StudyTemplates: Challenge, Solution and Results
  • 59. needed to overhaul their software business customer and prospect email messaging. The project corresponded with a Salesforce website redesign, so the program had to incorporate new branding elements while seeking to maintain or improve performance.
    Improve performance with optimized creative
    Streamline complex content
    Leverage ESP dynamic content capabilities
    Optimize creative for experience and performance
    Test original vs. new creative for 1 month
    Case StudyTemplates: Project Summary, Challenge and Solution
  • 60. Case Study
    Templates: Results
    The redesigned templates outperformed the legacy templates with staggering results.The performance of three redesigned emails demonstrates the improvements.
    Gains in CTR:Email #1: Clicks on Original: 2936Clicks on Redesign: 4055Email #2: Clicks on Original: 391Clicks on Redesign: 459 Email #3: Clicks on Original: 608Clicks on Redesign: 707
    Email #1:
    Email #2:
    Email #3:
  • 61. TestingKeys to creative testing
    Test constantly
    Make tests controlled and easy to understand
    Use results to inform the design process
    Creative test ideas:
    • Subject lines
    • 62. Copy length
    • 63. Call-to-action treatments
    • 64. Prices and product names
    • 65. Enviro vs. silo photography
    • 66. Bells and whistles
    • 67. Personalization/Segmentation
    • 68. Landing pages
  • EmailIndustry Trends
  • 69. Mobile and social are here to stay and will only grow as important components in the digital marketing mix
    Leveraging email, mobile and social together is powerful
    Email viewing on mobile devices is increasing dramatically
    ISPs are looking at how subscribers interact with your messages in the inbox – this can have a bearing on whether they deliver your messages
    Industry Trends
  • 70. ISPs are testing new marketer friendly offerings to make their platforms stickier
    Email marketers are continuing to inundate the inbox – you have to be smarter and work harder to make your messages stand out
    Overmailing can hurt your brand outside of the email channel
    Consumers are demanding more control of frequency – provide frequency settings in account preferences and consider opt-down settings on your unsubscribe page
    Industry Trends
  • 71. Thank you!