Wizemail provides email marketing software solutions and e-shot HTML templates to a wide variety of clients - SMEs, Corporate and Digital Advertising Agencies alike – all with one common requirement, a dynamic, professional, digital marketing team on hand when required.

At least weekly, one of the Wizemail team will post a tip, trick or general email marketing advice here.

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  • Building Positive Emotion In Email Marketing Apr 1, 2020

    I write about a form of advertising and research it; I subscribe to a number of email marketing lists, most of which I would not have bothered with even if I had more money. I know which are effective. I can see when they’ve targeted their email well. I read them through, concentrating on method, design, copy, all that sort of thing, yet time and again I end up considering buying whatever they are advertising.

    My 'rule' is that I won't buy anything from these marketing emails. I know that despite being a (very small) part of the 'problem', I am as vulnerable to it as anyone. Yet I’ve worked in advertising at various times in my life, so should know the methods and be immune to them. It’s so demeaning that I’m not.

    On the plus side, when I’m influenced, I know it’s a particularly good email and will probably gain an article from it, just as in the case I’m going to mention. It’s not from one of the big internationals, but a smallish company, setting itself up in a cut-throat industry, using email marketing, a rewarding but highly competitive method of selling.

    They use a clever tactic, and one that has been used by companies in a similar situation, so nothing new. It makes a big thing about being small and friendly. It calls itself a family to reinforce it.

    It starts from its website, the only thing missing is a lemming, cuddling up to its young. Its chatty, with lots of use of ‘we’ in the text, telling us what their plans are, and how they’ve just produced this wonderful product.

    Those on their email marketing lists are asked to ‘get on board’ with ‘us’. They are included as part of their, or rather our, success story. It’s transparent. It works, even with someone who knows a bit about advertising methods.

    It draws the subscribers in to an emotional bond with the company, and we all know that people buy on emotions rather than logic. It’s a method that takes commitment, but then it seems to work, on me at least.

  • Email Marketing Is Selling Happiness Apr 1, 2020

    I hate to break it to you, but what we do is simply advertising. That we do it online with our customers subscribing to email marketing lists and, critically, willingly sharing their personal details, in no way changes that fact. Bring back sales staff from the 1980s and they will recognise what we do instantly, and will probably feel jealous of our advantages.

    I’ve just come from a couple of car dealers. I’ve been sitting in plush showrooms, with carpets, coffee and comfortable chairs, where the focus is not so much on the product as on building emotion. In one showroom, there was no car sales literature on show, and the only advertising was for high value watches. The cars seemed something of an afterthought.

    One name for this method of sales is effective conditioning. If we feel comfortable in the surroundings, and have a positive emotion, then this will transfer to the product.

    We see this in classic soap powder adverts. There’s an immaculate kitchen, bright sunlight streaming through clean windows reflecting from the fashionable work surfaces. A smiling couple and a giggling baby. It is captivating, especially so for the target audience. There, to one side so not blocking the sun, is the packet of soap powder.

    What the advert is suggesting, albeit crudely, is to be as happy as this group, you need our soap powder. It’s basic. It works.

    Most people will wonder; why do these people pick products emotionally rather than objectively? A valid question you might think. However, it should be worded differently; why do we pick items on emotion?

    It’s fair to say that no one really knows. Or rather, a lot of psychologists have put forward a lot of differing ideas as to why, which all go to show that no one knows. The important point is that making people feel good is good sales technique.

    It’s a big ask in a marketing email though. You have a header, a headline, a bit of copy and an image; there does not seem to be a lot of opportunity for giggling kids and sparkling sunlight reflected off worktops. However, it’s not impossible over a period of time.

    We form a relationship with our subscribers, and we need to ensure our emails are a nice place to be. Don’t think of them only as a way of selling. The founder of Revlon said that in the factory we make cosmetics, in the store we sell hope.

    Ask yourself what your customers want, what they dream of, and then work out how you can associate your product with that fantasy. Each email to that particular split email marketing list should reinforce it. It will soon build.

    The sales staff in the car dealers did exactly what we do. They formed a relationship, albeit one that was not too close. They asked me about myself, my needs, and, importantly, worked out my budget. They showed me vehicles that more than fulfilled my needs and budget. They made me welcome. It was a pleasant experience. Do that, and you’ve cracked it.

  • Let Your Customers Tell You What They Think Mar 25, 2020

    Are online feedback forms worth all the effort? After all, only a small percentage of your customers will be bothered to complete it. That’s a lot of anticipation to get a few desultory dribs and drabs returned.

    The answer is ‘Yes’, but only if you accept that you are unlikely to be overwhelmed by responses, and you plan effectively.

    The biggest mistake many companies make is frequency. At one end of the scale we have requests for feedback at every interface. On the other, we get the dreaded annual form that comes six months after you had that brilliant idea for improvement but have now forgotten.

    Come to a decision as to the optimum frequency for your specific business model, although be prepared to change it in accordance with the returns. For instance, if you sell high value products, so actually interface with a specific customer every six months or so, then you might opt for one every purchase with every chance of it being optimum. Your decision is made.

    However, what if you sell on a weekly basis to some customers? One sure way of ensuring they go elsewhere is to hit them with a request for feedback at every purchase. One option that many use is to send a form at every interface unless one had been sent in the preceding three months or so. It’s not a compromise, but an informed decision.

    The next question is when to ask for feedback. The general rule seems to be at the end of the transaction. There are a number of routes to this. The one finding favour with the email marketing companies is a request, such as ‘Are you willing to complete our feedback form?’.

    If I’ve had a poor experience, I certainly will, and with vigour, and exactly the same where a staff member has gone that extra bit further.

    It is essential to present the form is a way that makes it easy for the person to access it. Just one click is the best way. They are giving their time, so giving them work to do is counter-productive. Make the form easy to complete. Work out the minimum number of question that will make the investment of your time worthwhile. You can always experiment with split testing to find what your customers will accept.

    Once you have the returns, and don’t expect to be inundated, sift through to see if there is a common criticism of processes or a suggestion that you can see will improve an aspect of your business. Work the change into your systems promptly. That’s what they will probably expect.

    Surveys are a great way of discovering what your customers want. They cost a bit, but they can also deliver a bit more.

    Rick Phillips likes this.
  • Why Should You Use Customer Feedback Forms Mar 25, 2020

    It’s a valid question. You have lots of objective data on the subscribers to your email marketing list, and it increases every campaign. What on Earth could the value be in a subjective response?

    One of the many reasons given in support of feedback forms is that they give a way of improving customer satisfaction. This, I would suggest, is a bit esoteric. Everything we do should be chasing that target. Feedback is probably one of the weaker tools.

    Perhaps it should be that you want to know what your customers regard as important. You will already have pointers. The click-throughs on your website and emails show what they are looking for. All you have to do is provide.

    The reviews and ratings you receive are a bigger pointer. If you receive a 1-star you will follow it up, asking them what you can do to rectify the matter, and preferably in a public manner.

    You might think I’m not too keen on feedback forms, but they can provide information that is not available via other forms of feedback.

    You should have a specific purpose for asking customers to fill in a form. Let’s say you want to discover why you are not getting any referrals. All your returns can tell you is that these are low. You will want to discover why.

    The simplest answer is to use a feedback form which asks your subscribers the quite common question, ‘Would you recommend us to a friend?’. The question is pointless of course. The follow-up ones are the critical questions. If they reply ‘No’ then you will ask ‘Why not?’ You could list reasons with a tick box, but not too many. Pick options that will encourage them to share.

    Remember that you will want to modify your processes based on the replies, so the questions must provide useful information. Eliminate ambiguity and superfluous questions. The results should point to where your weaknesses lie.

    Finally, the most important bit of all; test your conclusions with split email marketing lists. Once the results are back, prove your conclusion to all in your marketing teams.

  • Why should we avoid using clichés in email marketing? Mar 18, 2020

    You will note that the heading is a question. This is not a list of clichés to avoid like the plague, but more when you can use them to your advantage. You should exercise care, but you can say that about all words in an email marketing campaign.

    Some clichés are pleonasms, such as bent out of shape. Bent would do just as well. There are others that are as familiar in the mouth as household words so can be used as a shorthand. OK, enough with the clichés. I can assure you there’s an end to it.

    There are action films that use caricatures, a visual cliché if ever there was one, as a way of shortening the introduction to a film. If half a dozen combatants are going to be killed in the first half hour, then there’s little time to build their backstories. A classic example of this is the film Aliens. The director eschewed the slow build-up of the original film of the series and instead we had one-dimensional soldiers whose basic characteristics we could relate to.

    Use the same ploy; for instance, cross that bridge. It’s a contracted version of the full cliché, but everyone knows what you mean and it gives a little boost to the reader as you are showing that you trust them to fill in the rest of it. Other examples of contracted clichés include don’t count your chickens. It’s the perfect way to shorten marketing emails.

    For instance, you can’t rewrite ‘red herring’ any shorter. In fact, a dictionary definition runs to 16 words. There are times when should use a well-known phrase, as it transmits the message in as few words as possible.

    Most apt for a marketing email where the cost saving is slight could be a penny saved. Your meaning is clear and it requires no great mental effort from the reader to work out what you mean.

    The use of some might be custom-made (sorry) for a type of product. Selling glasses? Then eye to eye should a shoe-in. An image of two bespectacled people springs to mind.

    Used sparingly, clichés are an effective tool.

  • There Are No Rules When Writing Email Copy Mar 17, 2020

    In my early days of copy writing I did a bit of proofreading for email marketing and newsletters. It’s a painful way to get your name known. It is also quite boring due to how repetitive it was; the same mistakes were made time and again.

    For the English language to retain its edge, it needs to be honed. It didn’t take long for me to realise my error. Email marketing in particular has a new set of rules, preferences in reality, that should be complied with unless they get in the way.

    I thought the first, and unarguable, essential was consistency: use of caps, standardisation of headings, that sort of thing. I was sent bulleted lists where the style varied. There were leading capital letters and bold font followed by lowercase and roman. Whether you start with a capital or not is down to you, but they should all be identical.

    However, what about the most important point, the one you are hanging the email on? My pristine view was challenged. I came to realise that there are no requirements, only reasons.

    Heartbreakingly, because I love English, correct grammar was the first to die. Subject, verb, object was notable by its absence and there was a distinct lack of semicolons. But there were more fatalities, such as sentences starting with a conjunction. I even allowed a one-sentence paragraph as it was required for emphasis.

    Flexible style makes for easier reading. Breaking up a series of long sentences with a short one, and vice versa, is for the birds. Emails are scanned so short sentences allow the sense to be perceived at a glance.

    One of the laws of writing is to avoid clichés, yet they have a function. Everyone on a specific email marketing list knows what they mean, will recognise them quickly and, once read, move on to the next phrase. You can’t get better than that.

    Always replace longs words with short ones but aim the copy at the reader and their needs. Multiple syllables stymie scanning. I had to watch out for self-indulgence as well. Copy should be transparent. A memorable phrase in a book took my attention away from the subject. The author wrote ‘philosophers should philosophise’. In context it was apposite, or spot on rather. It was clever. It was a hazard to reading.

    A significant error was ambiguity. A reader of a marketing email wants to skim through the email and get all the required information. Words that have two or more meanings – the joy of the English language – can confuse and misinform. Clarity is essential.

    There is much to admire in the English language and it has become the lingua franca in much of the world for many reasons. One aspect that is unique is that it can change to suit the speaker and essentially the listener. It’s at its best in the written word, and is an excellent tool for email marketing.

    Ensure you tune it for your readers.

  • Using Humour In An Email Marketing Campaign Feb 26, 2020

    The film Gattaca had four letters, ATGC, highlighted on posters and the title sequence. I found it graphically jarring. I was told later, by a rather smug IT-type, the letters were, pause for a little titter, the initials of the building four blocks of DNA, and the design was rather ‘clever’. It seemed I was not.

    That’s the problem with humour; it can be hurtful. Comedians tend to change their delivery according to the reactions of their audience. It is difficult to judge the response when at a distance, such as when using email so, for once, our data is returned a bit too late to make a difference.

    It’s unlikely you’ll have a column in your email marketing lists which show each subscriber’s sense of humour, so you have undreamed of opportunities to upset them. Be too mild, and you run the risk of being unfunny. Too much the other way and disaster looms.

    Subscribers enjoy a bit of humour in emails, particularly enewsletters. The critical word here is bit. Go in too hard and you run the risk of losing your message. It might be better not to target the outright guffaw and go for the amused grin in the early stages. One distinct problem is that humour is not universal but the answer is to split your email marketing lists.

    Do you enjoy the gentle humorous comments on situations? When describing the user interface of an electronic device, you might smile if it said that you don’t have to wait for a ‘bring your child to work day’ to get it to work. It’s not laugh out loud of course, but, as we all know, empathy plays a massive part in email marketing.

    However, will your subscribers respond in the same way? Those with your background, who struggle with IT and have children who don’t, will react more positively than those who don’t.

    Which brings us onto word play. It is best described as a joke that just 25% of those who read it find funny, but 75% say they do. Harsh, but it’s true. You, however, need to ensure that you are not talking down to your subscribers. You want them onside.

    It is best to avoid jokes and stick to humorous comments. That way you are much less likely to cause offence, as there should be little to object to. Avoid the normal pitfalls. Anything aimed at a particular group is extremely dangerous, no matter how funny. It is best to aim at generating a smile rather than a smirk.

    If you are sure of your audience, be subtle as there’s nothing wrong in making someone feel a little smug. However, remember my reaction to Gattaca. Don’t go too obscure.
    You want your humour to bring your subscribers to relate to you. You need to generate positive emotions. It’s the particular email marketing list that you want to target. Don’t concentrate on the product.

    There are lots of reasons for being humorous. It is, unfortunately, all too easy to offend, so take care out there.

  • How To Choose A Voice For A Marketing Email Feb 13, 2020

    You don’t use the same tone of voice to speak with all of your friends, relatives and colleagues. It would be inappropriate. You tend to be serious in the office, especially when your contract is up for renewal. With friends, you’ll be more light-hearted. Not perhaps quite so jovial when discussing the appalling performance of the England rugby team.

    It’s the same when working out what voice to use in an email marketing campaign. It’s easy to go bland but we should remember that we must generate an emotional response for the best returns. It’s accepted that logic doesn’t play a major factor in a decision to buy.

    One mistake many make is to use the product to define the voice. If it’s a holiday in Spain during the festival season, then let’s be a little wild. A tour of the great sights of Egypt will generate a more solemn tone because of the grandeur. This is cart before the horse time though.

    As with your differentiation between mates and colleagues, you should choose a voice the reader can relate to. You will want to encourage a particular emotion. If you can show that you understand their needs and relate to them, they’ll be more likely to respond.

    The best advice I’ve received is to be yourself in the way you write. It’s a little more complicated than it might first seem. Your voice needs to change with each specific email marketing list, but if your corporate voice is to be friendly and chatty, then continue in your campaigns.

    There’s nothing stopping you being business-like and still being chatty. It’s the content that makes it focused, the tone that makes it friendly. The trick is differentiating the two. Another way of looking at it is to say the product defines the words, the voice defines the emotions.

    Ask yourself how you would sell the item to your favourite uncle. He’d expect a friendly tone. You’d be light, but still emphasise the product’s good points. Read the copy out loud as if your uncle is sitting the other side of the desk. You’ll know then if you’ve cracked it.

  • Research Can Improve Your Email Marketing Feb 13, 2020

    In-depth research is a great method to improve performance. It is expensive, so it’s much better if someone else does it for you. Recent, well supported, research shows that the best wordage for an email marketing campaign is between 75 and 100 words.

    You should treat the research of others with care, especially if you don’t know the details of their methods. In this case, 40 million marketing emails were studied so we can safely assume, I think, that the case has been proved. You can now go off to rewrite all your emails that don’t fall within these limits.

    But wait; with just a 1% increase, the optimum goes up to 50-175 words. Another 1% raises the higher number to 200. Basically, the research shows that the number of words used in a marketing email doesn’t matter all that much. It’s given us a norm.

    If you subscribe to other email marketing lists, perhaps those of some of the large international online market places, you will notice that some of their emails have very few words. How low can we go? One on my phone at this moment shows just 27.

    The research gives us the clear direction that there’s limited point in having a specific wordage target for emails. The good news is that it helps us in other ways.

    It seems that from 50 to 200 words there’s much of a muchness, so if you have said all that a potential purchaser will need to know, and you’ve hit them with the main specs, just go with it. If it scans, you have hit the target.

    There’s a substantial drop off in returns below 50, 6% for 25 words and then 8% to 10. A clear lesson there. However, why should a class-leading company drop to 27? They must be aware of the research.

    The point was, I think, that it was personalised. I had bought a consumable item in the past, and they’d worked out it was due a replacement. All I was after was price.

    In brief, don’t get too wound up about wordage. How many? It all depends.

  • Add Lightness To Your Email Campaign Feb 13, 2020

    In bygone days, where there were no minimum weight limits, there was an adage in a formula one team design studio that ran; ‘simplify and add lightness’. It has a certain ring to it. As adages go, it covers all the essentials. It was expressed by others in a manner not quite so musically; ‘the car was designed to fall apart as soon as it crosses the [finish] line’. It’s something that might reward you when designing marketing emails.

    The trick, because there’s normally one, is to leave only what is essential for the purpose. Then make what’s left more efficient. Easily said, of course, but easily done. All you have to be is ruthless.

    For the formula one racing team, if they made a mistake, the car broke down. For us, the implications of an error are less final. A drop in returns by a few percentage points and you’ve discovered something that you will be useful for you in campaigns to come.

    There are distinct advantages to cutting back a marketing email to basics that might not be apparent at first sight. The most significant for many will be that it will be easy enough to convert between laptop and mobile. With no superfluous detail, there’s much less to fiddle with. It makes everything simpler.

    Another advantage, and one I feel will deliver a bonus for campaign after campaign, is that it makes changes much easier to test. One of the problems with interpreting data is that other factors might be making an impact on the returns. If there’s little additional material, there’s little to compromise a change in image style, or heading colour.

    Simplifying matters means there’s less to bother a reader. Not that we have many subscribers who read emails. Most, in fact the vast majority, tend to scan the content. If there’s little to read then the likelihood of them reading the critical bits, the ones you want them to focus on, is much higher. And that’s what we want.

    You might be wondering if you might go too far with the red pen, but there’s research to help us. The conclusion, based on samples of 40 million emails, was that the marketing emails with between 75 and 100 words had the highest response rate. You might think that the sample size is convincing, and to a great extent you will be correct. However, there’s more to it than the ‘best buy’.

    The response rate varied by just 2% between 50 and 200 words. This should eliminate all doubt. Below 50 the response rates drop by a fair amount. If it’s better for mobiles, testing and scanning, then 50 would seem the one to aim for.

    However, if you can get all the information you want your subscriber to read in 25 words, such as the crucial selling factor of the product, and then telling them that is was the ‘Best Buy in [most respected journal for the product] tests’, then just add the price and sit back. That is sufficient, regardless of the research.
  • How Will Brexit Change Email Marketing Norms? Feb 6, 2020

    The last day of January is when we will leave the EU. It is, whatever your wishes, a momentous day, not only politically, but many suggest there might be a threat to business interests, including email marketing.

    When the EU signs off the Withdrawal Agreement there will be an interval that has been called the Transition Period. From a political point of view there will be significant change. The UK will not be represented at the EU. We will have no MEPs and no input in the EU’s legislative processes apart from some very minor provisions included in the Withdrawal Agreement.

    The Transition Period will continue until the end of 2020. It can be extended until 2021 or even 2022, although the decision must be taken by both the UK and the EU by June 2020. We have been told by the government that under no circumstance will the Transition Period go beyond 2020.

    The purpose of the Transition Period is to negotiate our future relationship with the EU. For the purposes of email marketing, however, nothing will, in the initial stages, change. You can go on doing what you are doing now, and indeed should, particularly conforming to the requirements of GDPR.

    The first significant date is 25 February when the EU General Affairs Council signs off the mandate on our future relationship with the EU, so signalling that the negotiations can start. The main negotiations will run from March to October. 30 June is the last possible date for an agreement between the UK and EU to extend the negotiations beyond 2020.

    The Data Adequacy Decision is due at the end of December 2020. see paras 8, 9 and 10 of the Political Declaration below.


    Paras 38, 39 and 40 of the Political Declaration, give sparse details of the condition the negotiators will work towards in digital commerce. This will affect email marketing. The words sound great, but confirm very little. However, the general feeling of commentators is that the GDPR will, of necessity, be retained in UK legislation.

    Also due at the end of December are the details of the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol.

    The Government is adamant that the Transition Period will not be extended. Whether this gives sufficient time to conclude negotiations will be revealed in due course.

    With a clear timeline of the process of the Transitional Agreement, it would appear that confidence in the market has received a bit of a boost, with 23% of companies surveyed in recent research seeing budget growth. Even the 58% which saw no change is a positive given the 5% drop shown in the run up to Christmas.

    The bad news for email marketing is that confirmed results of the negotiations will be a long time coming. The good news is that if all goes according to plan, although some might feel this requires a leap of faith, there should be minimal changes to our procedures.

    What we must do is continue to monitor the situation as it, albeit slowly, evolves.

  • How To Find The Best Copywriter Jan 30, 2020

    If you’ve been writing your own copy since you started in email marketing, but now believe your time could be best spent doing your proper job, you’ll want a copywriter. There are lots out there. How difficult can it be to find the one you want?

    Evidently, it can be very difficult. There’s a lot of good copywriters out there. However, if they are good, they will probably have enough work. Every now and again a contract will end and they’ll be on the lookout, so there are chances.

    Start by working out work what you want. For instance:

    What kind of copy do you need? The content of a marketing email takes different skills to that of a blog.

    What is your budget? If you can’t afford the best, accept it from the start.

    What are the start/finish dates? Most copywriters are happy enough with a short-term contract, but if a great deal of research is required, they don’t make much money until well into working with you.

    Describe the copywriter you want. Be as detailed as possible. For instance, you will want some experience of the type of copy. You will want to see examples of their work, but find it on the internet rather than getting if from them. You will want someone who has taken a company performing at a mediocre level to page one on Google. You want organisational ability, and quick, sure answers to your questions. Do you need them in the same time zone?

    Ask your friends, colleagues and business associates. Network with energy. If there’s copy you admire, then find out who supplies it. If all else fails, try the likes of LinkedIn.

    Come up with a choice of whom to approach. List their good and bad points, and then go after the best. Contact by email in the first instance, describing what you are after. Be specific as to your needs. It might put them off, but better now than when you’ve invested a lot of time.

    Interview them personally preferably, or via the likes of Skype. Ask them questions. You want to see their reaction. Find out if they charge by the word or by the hour. Some might include research time as a separate entity, although every writer will charge for it one way or another. Ask them what they want from you. They will ask you questions. Be honest. If the turnaround time is eight hours, then admit it from the start.

    Test the writer. Give them a description of what you want, and for whom. Answer their questions, and then see what they come up with. Read it aloud to yourself.

    Give them feedback. Ask them to change some specific detail, perhaps the ‘voice’. If they can’t do it, they are not a copywriter. If they don’t follow your instructions, then don’t follow up. It’s remarkable how many writers want to write their way.

    Remember you are paying. If they accept the contract, they did so because they wanted to. They are not doing you a favour.

  • Make Your Email Campaigns Stand Out Jan 30, 2020

    Are your marketing emails predictable? Does the new one look just like the last one? When’s the last time you experimented?

    The probable answer is that there is a certain sameness to your emails. Why should you be different? I view dozens of marketing emails each week and the most depressing thing is that they all look the same. But don’t change for me; change for yourself.

    There are probably two factors holding you back from experimenting: your data shows steady improvement and, despite knowing there are no authorities in email marketing, you are following all the advice you’ve received about design.

    Open an email and you’ll see the header, a subheading, an image, a call to action, maybe another subheading and another image. There will be a bit of copy by each image. It’s the epitome of dull. No wonder many subscribers close emails without action.

    Being different is like a cool wind. It will make the reader take notice, especially if it is apparent but subtle. A recent one worked on me yet it took me a little while to realise what was so shocking. Then I got it; there were no subheadings. Further, there was more copy than received wisdom suggests is optimum.

    We are all used to redundant subheadings. There’s an image, and the subheading merely describes what it shows. It’s pointless repetition and a waste of a space. If there’s no point to it, delete it.

    The clever bit with the marketing email was that the image grabbed the attention. It was a new product, one that was a step up. Anyone on the email marketing list of the company would be interested in learning more. Most of us might have had a click-through to further information, but not this company.

    The selling points, and there were a number, were all described in the copy. The lack of a subheading suggested to me that the copy was worth reading. And I was right.

    The company were being different for a reason. They ignored the ‘rules’ of email marketing and came up with a cracking campaign design. Question everything, especially what you know instinctively.

    unichroneltd likes this.
  • Design Email Campaigns For Your Subscribers Jan 28, 2020

    Way back, when I was in art college, we were given the task of coming up with poster ideas for the redevelopment of a local town’s market square. You might think, correctly, that this was way before targeting by splitting email marketing lists, but my lack of precision as to audience got my original design rejected. The heading was, ‘The Shape of the Square is Changing’. Those on the panel, councillors all, thought it too obscure.

    Imagine my feelings when, over last weekend, I was reading a design magazine, to discover a featured artist had been praised for a poster which read, ‘The Square is Changing Shape’. No one mentioned obscure. It was shown on a bus shelter, the very location I designed for.

    It’s no good being a brilliant designer without taking into account the tastes and aspirations of customers. The marketing email must appeal to those we want to sell to. It’s easy enough to say, but knowing people’s taste is difficult.

    The first thing you must ignore is your own preferences, unless, that is, you are selling to those of your age, background and situation in life who are also running email marketing companies. So that’s a no then. You could research the taste of those you are targeting, but that’s expensive. Another no.

    Or else you can copy others.

    The magazine in which I found the plagiarism of my design in is aimed at the young, imaginative designers leaving art college for careers in digital graphics. It is self-consciously cool, with-it, switched-on, hip, etc., which can be a bit wearing for someone whose heavy metal credentials end with hip joints. It is the place to go to discover what young artists think is cool, with-it, whatever. It’s very niche.

    Magazines aimed at a wider readership, such as women who are, or aspire to be, fashionable, give a better direction. They can be very specific. A casual glance along the shelves of your local magazine retailer for those aimed at your target audience will show you what they want; more importantly, what they will expect. Your subscribers probably don’t wear the clothes featured, go to the locations shown or drive a Tesla, but they will recognise the design themes.

    You want to show the subscribers to your particular email marketing list that you share their dreams and know what they want. The design of marketing emails and website should reassure them that they can trust you, because you know their desires.

    Whilst the shape of the square might be changing, targeting remains the one eternal requirement.

  • A New Email Design For The New Year/Decade Jan 24, 2020

    Now is a good time to go for a redesign of your marketing emails. We have a new year, a new decade, a new relationship with Europe and the world. There’s enough reasons there for everyone.

    You could farm out the redesign. I would not criticise you for doing so. It’s a great method of taking weight off your shoulders, albeit an expensive one. Or, you could pick one of the many free email marketing templates and put your own spin on it. Not only is it the cheaper option, but one that can be both fun and satisfying.

    You will have one significant advantage over the professional graphic designer. You know your subscribers and can design for them specifically. Don’t feel tempted to go for something that appeals to you. In this case, your tastes are insignificant.

    The problem for you is that you have to work out what they will find reassuring, refreshing and enticing. It’s not easy without a little work.

    Firstly, don’t copy your competitors. If you are after something new, someone else’s old won’t cut it. But what not to do is of limited help. You need a pointer, a source of ideas that you can compare, reject and then choose. There is one available near you.

    Printed magazines spend a significant sum on graphic design, with layouts, colours, typefaces and heading styles checked with focus groups. They will conduct post-change studies to look for tweaks to improve its effectiveness. The cost of this will probably be prohibitive for you, so it is refreshing to learn that the results of their research is available for a few pounds.

    On the shelves of newsagents near you there will a selection of magazines aimed at a demographic more or less representative of the subscribers on your email marketing list. If the publishers think the design is just what they like, who are you to disagree?

    You probably will disagree, to a limited extent, and that’s great. Fine tuning is what you should be good at. A different typeface, a slightly brighter colour and subtler headings and you’ve cracked it. And all for the price of a magazine.