17waysebook

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17waysebook

  1. 1. 17 Ways to Make Your Email Stand Out 1 A Blue Sky Factory Email Marketing eBook
  2. 2. There are many fish in the sea.We’ve all heard this saying before, and it’s true. There are many fish in the sea, so what does it take for one to stand out and benoticed?We live in a time where many people can’t get enough of pop culture. With all of the celebrities out there, why do certain peoplestand out? You know who we’re talking about: the Lady Gagas, Dennis Rodmans, and Snookis of the world. But, why them?Because they’re unique, bold, and out-of-the-box!It’s a battle to get noticed in the inbox these days. Your subscribers receive tons of marketing messages, and some are even from yourcompetitors. In order to get your emails delivered, noticed, opened, and acted upon, you need to make them stand out! Be unique,be creative, try new things, and always be testing.In this eBook, 17 Ways to Make Your Email Stand Out, we give you just that: 17 ways to be bold, smart, and ensure your subscriberstake notice and convert on your emails. We’ve broken this eBook out into 3 categories, so there’s something for everyone:• Strategy & Tactics• Creative & Design• Unique CampaignsReady to stand out?- Amy Garland & Joanna Lawson-Matthew, co-authorsp.s. Don’t miss the “cheat sheet” with all 17 tips on one page at the very end! 2
  3. 3. PART 1: STRATEGY & TACTICS 3
  4. 4. 1. BE UNIQUE If you want your emails to stand out in the inbox, do just that: make them stand out! Be unique, break from the norm, and make people take notice, whether it’s with your subject line, creative, or copy. For example, everyone offers “50% off” or “Free Shipping,” so spice it up a bit! Make your offer “13% off” to be different and include it in your subject line to catch subscribers’ attention, like these examples:  99 prints for 99 cents! Penny Prints are here! (Snapfish)  44 Presidents / 44 Styles / 44% Off + FREE Shipping (Gap)  Holy Shirt. (SWELL) SWELL sells surf lifestyle apparel and gear, so their emails are typically humorous with what some might consider “edgy” subject lines. One SWELL email that caught our eye had “2 Free Tickets…” as its subject line. Subscribers would likely wonder what the free tickets are for. When you open the email, you see that SWELL is featuring a tank top, with the copy “Free Tickets to the Gun Show.” Well done, SWELL! 4
  5. 5. Another way to stand out in the inbox is to send a very timely, relevantemail like Marketo did during the 2011 Super Bowl after theSalesforce.com commercial ran. The subject line was “Was that a B2BSuper Bowl Ad?,” and they engaged recipients by asking them to take apoll about Super Bowl advertising, a topic everyone is tuned intoduring the game!Want 8 more reasons why this email was effective? Read “9 ReasonsWhy Marketo’s 3rd Quarter Super Bowl Email Worked.” 5
  6. 6. 2. BE PREDICTABLEWait, didn’t we just tell you to be unique? At the risk of confusing you, we’re going to tell you to do the complete opposite of theprevious tip: Be Predictable. Well, it’s not really the opposite. Sometimes, standing out can be as simple as not trying to stand out.Think about your email inbox: which emails do you open first? Most likely it’s the emails from those you trust, the ones that regularlyprovide value to you, and the emails you look forward to receiving.In many cases, what will stand out to most loyal subscribers is that the email came from you. If they trust you, find value in yourcommunications, and look forward to receiving your emails, then your message will stand out to them once it hits their inbox. Anexample of when being predictable works is Help a Reporter Out (HARO). HARO sends three emails every day at the same times eachday. Their emails provide enough value to subscribers that if they’re late, people notice and will start knocking on HARO’s door(figuratively speaking). It’s all about sending timely, targeted, valuable emails. 6
  7. 7. 4 Tips for Being Predictable:1. Branding. Be consistent! Factors to consider when it comes to branding: color scheme, logo, from name, and subject line.2. From Name. Have a recognizable from name. No one knows John Smith (the name of your CEO), but they know Acme Brands, your company name. Make it clear who the email is from.3. Send Time. This is another instance where the top tip is to be consistent! If subscribers look forward to receiving your email, they will expect it in their inbox at a certain time. If you send a daily email, they will look for it at the same time every day.4. Send Frequency. If you send email too often, people will get overloaded and unsubscribe. If you don’t send email often enough, people will forget about signing up for your emails and then unsubscribe. Test to find out what works for your audience and stick with it. For frequency guidelines, read “Email Frequency: How Often is Too Often?”For more on getting your emails opened, read “Catch Subscribers’ Attention in the Inbox: How to Get Your Emails Opened.” 7
  8. 8. 3. BREAK SOME RULESWhile email marketing industry best practices are a great guideline tofollow, best practices can also be practices that are best for YOURbusiness.ALL CAPS in a subject line might not work for you, but they work forOverstock.com. Sending email on a Friday might not work for you, but itgarners high open and click-through rates for Blue Sky Factory’s weeklyemail newsletter (read our case study on The Best Time to Send Emailfor more).Industry best practices are common practices that tend to result insuccessful campaigns for most marketers. So why don’t they work foreveryone? Because every subscriber base is different. Every audienceresponds differently to different messages, businesses, and brands.The only way to know what works for you is testing. Try breaking a fewcommon industry best practices and see if it works for your business. 8
  9. 9. As another example of when breaking best practices sometimes works, we ran an experiment with our client Marketing Over Coffeeto find out what worked best for their audience when it came to email design. One template we tested was very text-heavy and lighton design (bottom left) while the second involved more HTML design, followed industry best practices, and was more polished andprofessional looking (bottom right).Read “Marketing Over Coffee: And The Winner Is…” for more about the test and to find out the surprising results. 9
  10. 10. 4. ASK FOR FEEDBACK & RESPOND TO ITWhat’s the best way to find out what subscribers like about your email program and what they would like to see changed? How aboutwhat they thought of your new service or the product they just bought? Would you like to know more about their interests so you canbetter tailor your email content to your audience? Just ask them!Be sure to make your email program a two-way street and encourage feedback from your subscribers. You can do this by using formalsurveys, but you can be just as effective in garnering feedback by simply asking subscribers to comment on your emails.To read more about creating a dialogue with your subscribers, read “Is Your Email Marketing Program a Two-way Channel?,” or learnmore about surveys in email in “7 Ways to Ensure I Do Not Complete Your Survey.” 10
  11. 11. FetchDog does a great job of surveying buyers about their recent purchases.Their simple email leads with a direct subject line (“Share your opinion atFetchDog.”) and even includes an image of the product within the emailcontent. They use language and imagery throughout the email that willappeal to dog-lovers, and they are clear about the benefits of submitting thesurvey. 11
  12. 12. Another great example comes from Swirl by DailyCandy. Email recipients were prompted totake a Style Quiz to find out what their style says about them. We can only assume this datawas then used to segment their lists and make their email content more relevant to theirsubscribers. What a great way to make divulging personal information more fun! 12
  13. 13. 5. SHORT & SIMPLEWe are all busy and our inboxes are full. When we finally get a chance to go through our emails, we want to be able to quickly scanthem while still being able to easily digest the information. Consider this when developing your email content and remember the oldadage “Keep It Simple Silly (KISS).” Subscribers should be able to scan your email, understand the message, and take action all withina matter of seconds. Take a look at your latest email campaign. Scan it for five seconds, and then look away. Were you able tounderstand the overall message and call-to-action of this email? Read more about keeping it simple in “Email Marketing Tip #25: Less is More.” 13
  14. 14. JetBlue does an excellent job of keeping their emails short, simple, and to the point. They use the same email template for eachcampaign. That template is simple, clean, and mirrors the look of their website, which is great for consistent branding purposes. Eachemail campaign has a simple promotional graphic and one call-to-action: Fly Now. A reader of a JetBlue email knows immediatelywhat the offer is and how they can take action on it. Short, simple, and to the point. Perfect.Want to take this approach but have too much content to share? Consider sending out a series of shorter emails to get your fullmessage across without overwhelming subscribers. (We cover this topic in more detail later in the eBook, specifically in Tip 16: Craft aSeries of Email Campaigns.) 14
  15. 15. 6. BE EXCLUSIVEIf you want your subscribers to remain loyal, your emails should provide value to them (i.e., solve a problem, make their life easier,etc.) and make them feel like they’re getting something they can’t get anywhere else. Otherwise, why wouldn’t they just check outyour website or social media networks from time to time?Exclusive offers give subscribers a reason to look forward to your emails and make them want to open and act on your emails. 15
  16. 16. Shoes.com sent an exclusive email that made us convert. Their subject linewas “Email Exclusive: 20% Off Your Order + Free Delivery By Christmas,” andthe body of the email included:“For a limited time enjoy 20% off your order. Simply shop through this emailand your discount will be reflected at checkout.”The small print under the main graphic reinforces the terms and conditionsof their offer by reiterating, “You must shop through this email to receiveyour discount.”By requiring recipients to click through this email to receive the offer, thisshows them that the Shoes.com offer is truly exclusive to subscribers andreminds them of the value of subscription. See more email exclusiveexamples and get tips in “Keep Subscribers Loyal with Email ExclusiveOffers.” 16
  17. 17. 7. PERSONALIZE YOUR SUBJECT LINEWe all know how important the subject line is. It’s the first thingthat recipients see and is a major factor in whether your email isopened or not. The key to a great subject line is to make itcompelling and attention-getting; draw your reader in with thesubject line and make them want to read more!In the past, marketers have tried to get subscribers’ attention byusing first name personalization in the subject line. And for awhile it worked! But some subscribers have become savvierover recent years and no longer see it as a personal touch. Thisjust means you need to juice it up a little more!Enter subject line personalization based on past purchases andbehavior. Experiment with setting up triggered emails based onwhat subscribers click on in a previous email or what productsthey browsed on your website. 17
  18. 18. Check out this great example from Amazon.com. The day prior, the recipient of this email had been searching for yoga equipment onAmazon.com but did not make a purchase. The next day – bam! – an email with the subject line “Amazon.com: Bestselling YogaEquipment” arrived in her email inbox. And did that email entice her to continue her search and ultimately make a purchase onAmazon.com? You betcha!For more on subject lines, read “Five Ideas for Email Subject Line Testing.” To learn more about email personalization, check out “Dear[Insert First Name Here]: Make Email Marketing Personalization Work For You.” 18
  19. 19. 8. PERSONALIZE THE EMAIL’S CONTENTThe days of “batch and blast” emailing are long gone and email marketers now have the opportunity to have a 1:1 dialog with theirsubscribers. This can be accomplished using dynamic content. Dynamic content allows you to customize and personalize the contentof your emails for your individual recipients based on their interests, demographic stats, or any other information you have on yoursubscribers. This leads to more highly targeted, relevant, and thus valuable emails for subscribers.One of our clients does a great job of this on their bi-weekly e-newsletter, which they use to share tools, tips, and educationalresources with their sales representatives. These reps are divided into seven different regions, and, like many businesses, these sevenregions have different goals and slightly different products to sell. By using dynamic content, the email is personalized based on thesales rep’s location so they are given the correct product information.As can be expected, this client has seen a dramatic increase in open rates since they started doing this, from 14.3% to 21.1%. This isdue to the fact that subscribers now know they are receiving an email that is personalized to them and their needs, which makes theemail much more valuable to them. Read more about dynamic content and this client’s results in “Using Dynamic Content to IncreaseYour Email Open Rate.” 19
  20. 20. 9. CREATE A SENSE OF URGENCYTry creating urgency with your emails by including “Urgent” or “Last Chance” inyour subject line. Tempting subscribers by telling them “Sale ends today!” or“Today only” will help prompt them to open your email immediately, and byfollowing through with your promise, they are more likely to act on the offer. Andwhen we say “urgent,” we mean urgent. Telling subscribers they have five days todo something probably won’t do the trick, but “Almost gone” or “Last chance”shows that you mean business.Note: Be sure to follow through with the urgency expressed in your email. Creatinga false sense of urgency will only lead to mistrust from your subscribers.In “Two Snaps for Snapfish’s Email to Social Campaign,” Snapfish asked subscribersto “like” them on Facebook. They promised a free gift if recipients became a fan,but this offer was only valid for one day. This meant that Snapfish subscriberswould need to act on this right away, no ifs, ands, or buts.Get more ideas for testing urgency in your subject line in “Five Ideas for EmailSubject Line Testing.” 20
  21. 21. 10. OPTIMIZE YOUR TRANSACTIONAL EMAILSDid you know that transactional emails (automated welcome emails, password requests, order confirmations, etc.) have some of thehighest open rates of all emails sent? That’s because they are typically sent as the recipient takes an action on your site or emailcampaign. Take advantage of that window of high engagement and use it to mix in some marketing messages.Note: It’s important to remember that, per the CAN-SPAM Act, the primary message of a transactional email must remaintransactional in nature. In order to remain mostly transactional in nature, the email’s subject line must reflect the transactionalcontent and the transactional portion of the email content must account for the majority of the full email’s content (and must comefirst in the order of content). 21
  22. 22. Once you’ve passed the CAN-SPAM test, try adding some marketing messages and images to your transactional emails. Netflix hasrecently pumped up their transactional emails and now includes a soft-sell banner at the bottom, which prompts recipients to checkout their instant play service. Amazon also includes marketing elements promoting their gift cards in their order confirmation emails.In both cases, the primary message is transactional in nature, but a soft-sell marketing banner is used to tell recipients aboutadditional products they may be interested in. By adding this marketing element to their transactional emails, both companies areable to grab customers during a small window of opportunity where they are most engaged. 22
  23. 23. PART 2: CREATIVE & DESIGN 23
  24. 24. 11. GET HORIZONTALFor years, the email marketing industry best practice has been to keep email width between 600 and 650 pixels (this is because thetypical preview pane size is under 650 pixels wide). Keeping your email under this width means that subscribers do not have to scrollhorizontally to read your email content.With everyone sending vertically-scrolling emails, think how much of an impact a horizontally-scrolling email would make! We’ve seena few marketers try their hand at emails wider than 650 pixels and be successful. Abercrombie & Fitch was one of the first to try thiswith emails that ranged from 2200 to 2650 pixels wide; they used this space to showcase a variety of product options. 24
  25. 25. Another wonderful example came from the email experience council (eec). Their holiday email clearly stated on the left to “Scrollright for your holiday gift.” Those who scrolled right were rewarded with a discount code for eec membership. This idea is still so funand new that we bet most people scrolled, just to see what was hidden there!Two points to watch for horizontal scroll emails: Keep email height under 600 pixels, so it’s clear to recipients that they need to scroll right and not down for more content. This design will work in all email clients as long as the width is under 2200 pixels. Anything wider than that may get cut off in certain email clients. 25
  26. 26. 12. SCROLL, BABY, SCROLLAlong the same lines, some marketers are also beginning to play with extra-longvertically-scrolling emails. Take Anthropologie for example. In their holiday gift finderemail, recipients could easily see the enticing message “Still searching for that perfectpresent?” in their preview pane. The reader was then encouraged to scroll way down,reading a cute message along the way. At the bottom of the email, the reader wasrewarded with a link to their gift finder tool. Click to view a full screen version of theemail.Again, it’s all about the mystery. The call-to-action was nothing profound; it’s the waythe sender got their recipients to act on that call-to-action that made the difference andmade the email stand out in the inbox. 26
  27. 27. 13. MAKE YOUR CALLS-TO-ACTION STAND OUTWhen it comes to your call-to-action, think of the 3 Bs and your mother-in-law. We’re serious.You want your subscribers to take action on your emails, right? They should have no question as to what action you want them totake, so make your calls-to-action:1. BIG2. BOLD3. BRIGHT!Also, take the mother-in-law test each time you create an email. If your mother-in-law received your email, would she know what action to take? Is it obviousenough?Not convinced yet? Here’s another test: if you can, view your email on a mobiledevice and then hold your phone as far in front of you as possible. Can you seeyour call-to-action? If not, it’s time to make some changes. 27
  28. 28. An excellent example of a big, bold, and bright call-to-action can be seen in Christopher S. Penn’s personal newsletter. (Chris is BlueSky Factory’s vice president of strategy & innovation.) In a recent email, he wanted recipients to download an eBook, so he made thecall-to-action obnoxiously pink. You can’t miss it, can you?By using a unique color, size, or other element for your call-to-action, your subscribers are sure to see it. Get more details aboutmaking your call-to-action stand out in “Email Marketing Tip #23: Conversion is the Name of the Game.” 28
  29. 29. 14. IT’S ONLY HUMANWe all respond to human faces; it’s natural. To paraphrase Christopher S. Penn, human faces are instantly and instinctivelyrecognizable to us, since our fellow man is something we are biologically wired to pay attention to first. So why not use relatablepeople imagery within emails to grab subscribers’ attention and make them read more?Read more from Chris on this topic in “What Vintage Ads Can Teach You About Email Marketing” and “Magazine Stand Email Testing.” 29
  30. 30. TownHog, a daily deal company, does a great job of this in just about every email theysend. Their images are of people having a great time doing whatever activity they arepromoting that day. By showing real people enjoying the experience, that helps to maketheir subscribers want the same experience, and thus click through to buy the promotion.Using this type of imagery will make the subscriber relate to the email message and clickthrough to get more information so they can become like the person in the image. Clickthe image to view a full screen version of the email. 30
  31. 31. Human imagery within an email can also be used to give your campaign a little personality.This helps to strengthen the personal connection subscribers feel with your email campaigns.Try including a photo of one of your team members within the email creative. This could bean image of your CEO, the author/designer of the email, or a try featuring a differentemployee each time.In their quarterly e-newsletter, the Phillips Distilling Company not only features a photo oftheir CEO and President with a welcome message at the top of each issue, but they alsofeature a different employee with a photo. This is a great way for subscribers to get to knowthe company and brand on a more personal level. Click to view a full screen version of theemail. 31
  32. 32. 15. GO OUTSIDE YOUR BOXIf you always do the same thing with your emails, you’ll always get the same results. Try breaking from your normal send habits androutines (i.e., not what’s considered the “norm” by email industry standards, but your norm, aka, what you typically do in your emailcampaigns).Does your company have a more serious, business-like brand? If so, test a more fun, light-hearted subject line or creative design. Ifsubscribers tend to glaze over your subject lines or creative design, something different may catch their eye and make them want toopen your email and read more. 32
  33. 33. Business to Business (B2B)Typically, B2B emails are more serious and professional. We recently received anemail from a tradeshow display company (TPS Displays) with a subject line of“Used Cows for Sale.” This was definitely a break from the norm for them, and it’snot the usual type of B2B subject line. But, TPS Displays made it relevant to theircontent, and overall it made us stop, open the email, and read their message. Agreat example of standing out!Of course, it all depends on how your audience will respond, so do some testingand determine whether or not something “different” will work for them. It’s worthtrying! 33
  34. 34. Business to Consumer (B2C)If you’re a B2C company or one that is constantly emailing deals and discounts, consider deviatingfrom the norm to provide your “Top 10 Tips” or other valuable content. Keep subscribers on theirtoes so they’ll be interested to hear from you time and time again.Uncommon Goods, a B2C company, used “9 Ways to Give Winter the Cold Shoulder” as theirsubject line and email content. While they were promoting their products, they also provided asolution to subscribers’ problems. Subscribers get so used to seeing “Sale” and “Free Shipping”subject lines from B2C companies that this change would make them take notice. 34
  35. 35. PART 3. UNIQUE CAMPAIGNS 35
  36. 36. 16. CRAFT A SERIES OF EMAIL CAMPAIGNSInstead of sending just one email busting at the seams with offers and information for your subscribers, consider sending out a seriesof simpler, shorter emails. This not only helps to make your content more digestible for your subscribers, but also is a great way tokeep your readers engaged over a longer period of time.At Blue Sky Factory, we implemented an email series of 52 email marketing tips. This is a weekly email that subscribers receive at thesame time each week. The email is short and to the point, offering one quick tip each week and a link to learn more. Sending thesetips in this format means that subscribers are not overwhelmed and actually look forward to receiving our next email! It also meansthat we are constantly top-of-mind for our subscribers, as we are in contact with them each week. (Subscribe to these tips now!) 36
  37. 37. 17. BE EXTRA WELCOMINGYou can also set up an email series for your welcome email. Subscribers are most engaged at the very beginning of the relationship, soit’s best practice to send an immediate welcome email after sign-up. But it’s even better practice to send several welcome emails overthe span of the first 2-3 weeks, when the subscriber is most engaged and interested. These multiple welcome emails can be used togive subscribers more information about your products and services in a more digestible format, and also keeps your company in theforefront of their minds for a longer period of time. 37
  38. 38. Next Day Flyers does a great job with their welcome email series. In their first welcome email, sent immediately after the subscriberjoins their list, Next Day Flyers thanks the reader for subscribing and then lists five benefits to getting started, including their easyordering process, information about their next day guarantee, and links to creative resources. Their second email in the series is sentthree days later and helps subscribers with their purchase decision by highlighting their most popular products. Both emails alsoinclude a link to the Next Day Flyers blog and other resources the subscriber may be interested in, and both work to build andstrengthen the relationship with the new subscriber. The email metrics for these two emails are excellent too! This campaign seriesconsistently gets over a 20% open rate and an average click-through rate of 3%. 38
  39. 39. All good things come to an end.We hope you find this eBook to be helpful to your email marketing efforts. While all 17 tips might not work for you, we hopewe’ve encouraged you to try a few and test new ways to increase your subscriber engagement rates. On the next and final slide,you’ll find a “cheat sheet” of all 17 tips. Print it out and use it as a reminder to keep your email campaigns fresh!Our mission at Blue Sky Factory is to help you become a better marketer through effective email and social media marketing. Ifyou’d like to talk in detail about your campaigns and how we can make you a better marketer, please don’t hesitate to contactus via phone (866.216.BLUE), email (bsfinfo@blueskyfactory.com), or Twitter (@blueskyfactory).Thank you for your interest in our eBook, and best wishes for your success!Amy Garland & Joanna Lawson-Matthew A big THANK YOU to the many photographers on Flickr who graciously license their work for attribution and commercial usage and helped make this eBook possible. We thank each of them below. • Jarod Carruthers – Standing out from the crowd • IronRodArt – Starfish – one is not like the others • Kobiz7 – Clock • nationalrural – Broken Glass • Iwan Gabovitch – ASK Graffiti • ClintJCL – mock transaction • quinn.anya – Oma and the Android • Christopher S. Penn – BSF staff photos • PaolaCerruto – box • Aidan Jones - Handshake • Nickwheeleroz – There’s Always One 39
  40. 40. 17 Ways to Make Your Email Stand Out 1. Be Unique 2. Be Predictable 3. Break Some Rules 4. Ask for Feedback & Respond to It 5. Keep It Short & Simple 6. Be Exclusive 7. Personalize Your Email Subject Line 8. Personalize the Email’s Content 9. Create a Sense of Urgency 10. Optimize Your Transactional Emails 11. Get Horizontal 12. Scroll, Baby, Scroll 13. Make Your Calls-to-Action Stand Out 14. It’s Only Human 15. Go Outside Your Box 16. Craft a Series of Email Campaigns 17. Be Extra Welcoming 40Want to print this page only? Here’s how: Select File --> Print --> Print Range. Choose Current view or Pages (if it’s thelatter, enter “40” in the blank space to the right). Finally, select OK.

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