Email Optimization Archives - Smarter Commerce
This holiday season consumers confirmed their willingness to break away from the traditions of football and food with friends and family to shop in-store or online. With the proliferation of stores opening Thanksgiving night, consumers checked out early from holiday dinner …
Marketers are on an eternal quest to enrich their email templates with eye catching and compelling content. Since the early days of email marketing, email templates have gone through a number of transitions and evolutions as the market place and technology around receiving and reading emails has matured. We’ve moved away from multi-column layouts that emulate web pages to more nimble and lighter weight single column layouts that are optimized for the growing mobile marketplace.
Still other innovations are less obvious; subtle changes that only appear under the hood have given us the capability, as savvy coders and marketers, to create emails that have fundamentally different layouts depending on the device rendering them. Marketers are now employing a new dedifferentiating feature in their emails: emoticons. What is an emoticon you ask? Good question. Emoticons are the little illustrations that have evolved from more symbolic character representations such as a smiley face that evolved into an illustration similar to this:
(For the techies in the audience: Yes, I used a graphic for the colon, dash and parens because this blogger client automatically transforms it into a smiley face. Go figure, all this work to get an “old school feel.”)
Apple’s iPhone and iPad have built a reputation for beautiful rendering of images, video and naturally, HTML emails. As marketers, our tendency is to worry about all the other email clients with their varied support for CSS and rendering foibles. However we seldom worry that the iPhone or iPad will botch an email, or break our carefully engineered templates. Well I’m here to tell you that these assumptions could be potentially dangerous.
Test, test, test and when you’re done with that, test some more.
National Geographic sends me beautiful mages of far off, exotic places filled with mystery and adventure. However a recent email presented me with a head-scratching mysterious white line, a separation between two tiled images. What happened?
In the first part of this blog I tried to introduce a concept hat I’ve borrwed from social media, specifically Klout: reach. My focus is email marketing so I wanted us to think about email in terms of the channels it crosses and the breadth of people a single email can influence, so I’ve dubbed this email’s true reach.
Opens are a good starting point for understanding email’s true reach but far from a final destination. Sales are another crucial component, but unless you can attribute every sale and perfectly and understand how an email could’ve influenced a transaction in another channel, it too is insufficient. True reach however is more complicated and will require us to source more data than ever before.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water you run across this! Everyone has a newsletter, everyone sends a newsletter, everyone receives newsletters. However, sending a newsletter to anyone without first thoroughly testing it against your potential audience’s email clients isn’t advisable.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Well it looks like HTML I ran across in college, in 1994, in an early Netscape browser.
**As seen in Lotus Notes 8.5
This vintage look isn’t what the coders of the email had in mind. Quite to the contrary, the newsletter was well thought out, designed with width, color and readability in mind with touches like line height, font size etc. Despite what you see here the coders of this email meant for it to look something modern and sleek like this:
I feel compelled to say that I’m an avid reader of EaterSF; the recommendations have fueled numerous food adventures in and around San Francisco. That being said let me also state this is not meant to lambast or endorse the editors of this newsletter, only as a vehicle for creative analysis.
As you can see it’s a fairly straightforward newsletter: a two column design with clear branding at the top of the email. Looks good, right? Right, but a web preview is not the experience a reader has across email clients and platforms.
Email is a core channel for establishing and growing customer loyalty, increasing sales and driving activity across social networks. For an email to be successful and address the reading habits of the connected consumer it has to be accessible and readable across a wide variety of platforms. To be cross-channel and email has to be built according to best practices for cross channel design.
The template for this newsletter is set to 830 pixels; this is too wide when you take into account the viewable dimensions of mobile handsets. Even if you don’t take into consideration a mobile handset and you want to code for the 1990’s, a screen resolution of 800×600 would mean the recipient is forced to scroll left to right to see the full text of the email.
Ahhhh, spring is here! The warmer weather (in some parts of the country) has nudged blossoms out of their buds and filled the boulevards with petals. Snow is melting, birds are chirping, the boughs of our lemon tree are heavy …