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How many of the emails, that now call your inbox home, will merit even 2 seconds of your attention? Some, you’ll skim mindlessly, pausing mid-swipe to double-take at a cat GIF.
A few may get the trash-tap treatment before even the first “Hey there, gamerboy91!” is revealed. And others will fatally suck, resulting in a frantic jab at the dreaded unsubscribe button with exaggerated fury.

Why do crappy emails make us so MAD?

A wise woman once said, your personal inbox is like your digital foyer. You don’t mind welcoming new people to your home…until they stop knocking before they enter.

In other words, we’re open to receiving emails as long as they’ve provided value in the past and may provide value in the future. But once they start to “make themselves at home” in our inbox, and take their invitation into our personal space for granted, they’ll lost our trust, interest and patience – FAST.

So what does this mean for us, both as email marketers and (hypocritically) serial email deleters? Will email marketing be forever lost to the Wikipedia pages of web practices that have grown obsolete?

Here’s your answer: According to Campaign Monitor, in 2017, email marketing ROI averages to $38 for every $1 spent. That’s 40x more than what Facebook engagement usually brings in.

That’s a revelation. That’s game-changing. That’s a wake-up call to the digital marketing world.

No, email marketing is far from dead. In fact, it’s just getting started. So how can you gain that coveted, proverbial “Welcome Mat” into your customer’s digital foyer? By following three key guidelines:

1: Knock first
2: Bring a hostess gift
3: Be a gracious houseguest

KNOCK FIRST
Even if your host expressly invited you into their home, do you simply barge through the door on your first visit? Of course not. You knock. In email-land, this is equivalent to an opt-in email. These automated emails double-check with the recipient about subscribing to your list, even if they voluntarily subscribed to your newsletter.
You may think this a cumbersome extra step, but it makes all the difference. Tempting as it is to just grab as many email addresses as you can and start blasting those newsletters, you won’t build lasting relationships that bring in real sales that way. Check out the automated opt-in email below. We can assume the recipient has already been getting emails from Archant for a while:

archant

Archant is showing their valued subscribers that they care about their preferences while SIMULTANEOUSLY ensuring that only those interested in their product are receiving their meticulously crafted emails.

BRING A HOSTESS GIFT
Provide value. Make it worth their while. Make them second guess themselves as their finger hovers over the trash icon: maybe there’s something of value in this email that I’m about to throw away?

This doesn’t mean giving away inventory, or even promo codes. Check out this email for received from Glossier, a fun makeup company with a super-strong brand personality:

 

glossier header

glossier photos

The images were perfectly screensaver-sized, and were lusciously visual, brand-consistent and of course: free.

Glossier didn’t charge a penny for these images, and yet, as the recipient, we felt like it was an exclusive gift from the glorious founder herself. What a simple, clever way to deliver value to your email list!

So while offer codes, downloads, and free swag are great “Hostess Gifts”, you don’t have to limit yourself to physical deliverables. You know your target audience better than anyone – you know what they’ll appreciate. Even if it’s just a screensaver.

BE A GRACIOUS HOUSE GUEST
There are some unspoken rules when you’re a guest: use your inside voice, don’t clog the toilet, feet off the coffee table…to name but a few. In order to stay welcome in your audience’s mailbox, you’ve got to be a dream guest.

Pop in only once in awhile: daily emails are a surefire way to get your recipients annoyed at you.

Don’t be too loud: if every subject line is YOU’RE ABOUT TO MISS THE DEAL OF A LIFETIME! and all your offering is another $5 off your order off $500, then you’ll lost trust fast.

Show appreciation: say “Thanks for letting us visit” every so often. It reminds your audience that you appreciate and respect that they’ve invited you in.

canva photo

Canva sent out this email when they hit 2 million users on their site. In an effort to show how they still care for every customer individually, they let users know what number user they were. This isn’t earth shattering information, but it made every customer feel like they were a part of something greater and individually relevant.

Start sprinkling these strategies into your emails and pay close attention to your open rate. Remember, even if customers don’t engage with your emails, they could be actively reading, enjoying, or even forwarding them. By establishing your newsletter as one of the few they don’t block, you’ve got more than just a foot in the door: you have a guaranteed seat on their living room couch.

Have any other tips for crafting emails that have staying power? Tell us in the comments below!

Looking to improve your email marketing techniques? Ajax Union is a full service digital marketing agency based in Brooklyn, New York. Our team is here to help you become an amazing company. Contact us so we can walk you through the realm of online marketing. Visit our page to learn more about our new technology product, B2Bx.

An email marketing campaign’s success hinges not only in the quality of the email content, but also on the quality of the design and email layout. There are several key factors to consider when designing for emails, but the primary point to remember is that designing for email is not the same as designing for a web page. Email clients have unfortunately remained relatively stagnant while web pages have moved forward with their coding standards so certain HTML and CSS markups are not supported by many email service providers. Keep in mind, the growing demographic of mobile users have pushed for the need for responsive email layouts as well.

However, don’t let this deter you from moving forward! This guide will help address some of the issues that come up when designing for email. The three main factors to consider when getting started on your designs are:

  1. Simple is best. While complex, visually appealing designs are eye-catching, they are difficult to translate correctly throughout all the email clients without running into many coding issues. A complex design will also be problematic for mobile devices.
  2. Code like the ‘90s.  Email service providers have limited scripting support when it comes to HTML and CSS. In turn, you’ll need to rely heavily on old-school coding styles, meaning the use of tables and inline CSS.
  3. Troubleshoot. Always test your emails. Run them through troubleshooting tools like the ones provided in Email on Acid and Litmus, which allow you to preview how a design will look in most of the popular email clients.

The Design:

  • Simplicity is key when designing quality emails. While the aesthetic of the email is important, the content should be the priority. With that in mind, it is ideal to have a clean, branded design without taking away from the content.
  • Overall email structure should be 600px wide—this will ensure that the email will load properly in various email clients in a vertical layout.
    • Use full body background colors instead of background images, which are often not supported.
    • Avoid image-heavy email designs.
      • Too many images and not enough text content can get your email flagged as spam.
      • Many users have image-blocking, preventing them from viewing your designs. DO NOT rely on images to convey the most important information.
      • Images should be optimized with the smallest file size without decreasing the quality to avoid long load times.
      • Use JPGs or GIFs for image file type. Avoid using PNGs since they’re not supported by some email service providers.
      • Animated images (GIFS) are not always supported.
      • Use ALT tags in images.
    • Embedded Videos and any Flash built asset will not be rendered by most email clients.
    • If the text is not within a graphic, use a font-family that is web-friendly. (Times New Roman, Arial, Georgia). See this guide from MailChimp for more on email-safe fonts.

The Structure
As mentioned in the design section above, keeping your email width at 600px will ensure that it will be viewed by most email clients.

  • Structure your emails in a responsive layout. This also hinges on the design so it is important to create a design with mobile devices in mind.
  • Some CSS is not supported by many email clients. Refer to this guide by Campaign Monitor when coding emails.
    • If you’re making your own email template, avoid using CSS classes and external stylesheets. Use INLINE CSS for this purpose.
      • Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor offer tools to bring your CSS inline.
    • Do not use CSS shortcuts.
  •  Basic HTML tables are highly recommended when designing a multi-layout email; divs are not supported by certain email clients.
    • Note: Outlook applies one pixel of table-padding to all cells so you will want to apply your desired table-padding to all tables.

The Content

Personalize your subject line.

  • Put the most important content, including calls to action, above the fold (the part of the email that is visible when initially opened).
  • Keep content short and relevant.
  • Add links to images to increase your email’s click-through rate.
  • Text should be easily readable, at 14px and up, particularly for longer newsletter-style mailings.
  • Add UTM tracking to links.
  • Make it easy to subscribe/unsubscribe (have these links in the header or footer).
  • Subscribe/Unsubscribe, Forward to a Friend, View as webpage, and social media links should be clearly visible in the header and/or footer.
  • Abide by the CAN-SPAM Compliant.

Need help with your email marketing? Contact an Ajax Union representative today!