Email Marketing Basics: Technical Details

Learn how to send emails to your subscribers.

If you missed Part I of email marketing basics, check it out today. 

We said it before and we’ll say it again: email marketing isn’t about selling, pushing, or screaming. It’s about connecting with your customers in a real way.  We’re here to break down some misbeliefs about email marketing to help you get the bottom of it. 

How Often 

Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense. They listen so much that they forget to be natural. 

– Gertrude Stein, Reflection on the Atomic Bomb

Send too often, and customers will get really bored of you. Don’t send enough, and customers might forget about you. So what’s the deal? Email marketing campaigns are about reminding your customers to make moves exactly when they’re ready.  It’s not about pummeling them with annoying, over-the-top emails, it’s not about sending 10 emails a week, and it’s not about over-saturating their inbox with useless info. There’s no hard-and-fast rule about frequency, so the only true way to tell is to test it. According to Campaign Monitor,

“Test your send frequency on smaller portions of your list to measure impact. Remember, getting more opens and clicks without a change in visits or revenue might not equate to anything tangible so always test before you dive head first” (Campaign Monitor).

If you’re leading customers through a specific process, you can use some math to generate ideas. Or, you can use those programs we explored in Part I to analyze your data. But we think the best way to really figure it out is to use common sense. Would you want daily emails from a company you care about? Probably not. We don’t even like daily emails from our best friends (sorry, James!), so keep your cool and keep it cool.

Start low. Try for an email a month and see how it goes. If your customers are responding, you can increase that number and see what happens. If people are unsubscribing or not opening your emails, then you should refocus by looking at tone, length, and finally frequency. 

A Plan of Attack

According to HubSpot, you should create a hypothesis first, segment your subscribers, figure out which test metrics you want to use, create your emails, and then, after you send them out, analyze the data against your hypothesis. 

Remember that some bits of info, like open rates, aren’t really helpful because they are only considered “opened” if the images involved in the email are downloaded, and many people use image-blocking email features, so this is one metric that you can forget about that one entirely. Focus instead on more important data like conversion rate or click-through rate. 

How Much

Deciding how much text to use in promotional emails is pretty specific. HubSpot suggests you should consider the following questions:

  • Who are you sending to?
  • What are you talking about?
  • What kind of email is it?

According to The Atlantic and Boomerang, an email of 50-125 words is best. 

Like everything else in this process, it’s best to try it out and see what happens. One thing isn’t going to work for every single company, so it’s important to see what works for you and your audience. Try split-testing your emails to track customer engagement. No one’s clicking on longer emails? Chop your text in half. Check again. Is everyone responding to less text and more high-quality images? Whatever you notice, try to replicate it and check it out again later on. 

What Tone

Once you have an idea for what length you want to hit, you can start thinking about how you want to say it. Before you decide on a tone, you’ll want to consider a few questions:

  •  Who is your audience?
  • What’s your brand’s voice?
  • What’s the point of the email?
  • What type of action do you want subscribers to take?

No matter what tone you decide on, make sure you’re writing to a wide audience. No one wants to sit through a bunch of jargon and the latest version of the dictionary.

Boomerang analyzed the data and they’ve come up with some interesting email marketing tricks to keep in mind.

  • Write for a 3rd grader
  • Write with emotion
  • Keep headlines short (3-4 words)
  • Ask questions (1-3 tops)
  • Be subjective (facts are boring. Spice it up!) 

Content = Form + Function

Once you know what you want your customers to do, you can incorporate a tone that your customers will get. Selling high-fashion jewelry? A funny tone probably won’t work. Writing an informational article? Leave out the GIFs.

You know your company and your customers best, so make sure you follow brand guidelines, best practices, and use a tone that will excite your customers. Oh, and Boomerang also suggests that emails received in the morning or at lunch are more effective, so do that! Check out some examples below, and then hit the drawing board.

  

Email Marketing Examples

Artifact Uprising – Simple, image-based emails to generate sales.

 

Artifact Uprising Email Marketing Example

General Assembly – Informative email campaign to spread awareness of events and bolster following.

General Assembly - Email Marketing Example

 Uber – An event-focused email to inform customers of possible delays, changes, and event information.

Uber - Example of Informative Email Campaign

As you can see, the tone, length, and information in these emails is dependent upon very specific goals. If you know who your audience is, what you’re selling, and what your end goal is, you’ll have a good chance of creating visually appealing and compelling email marketing campaigns.

Don’t know where to start? Go back to Part I, where we explore email marketing basics including generating email lists, collecting emails, and email marketing applications. 

Going Back to Email Marketing Basics

EmailMarketingBasics01

Marketing from the Bottom Up

Email blasts are best when you actually care about your customers. We know you’re probably thinking “but we do care about our customers.” And, duh! We know you do, but do they know that? How do you treat them when you send them an email marketing campaign? Are you following the rules so you don’t make people angry? Are you making sure your customers know it’s you writing to them? Do they know what you think about them and what you want them to do?

Email marketing research is completely freaking flooded with a lot of rules and a lot of ways to do things, and we think that’s all pretty cool, except a lot of it is silly. We think the main things you need to know are to treat customers with respect and do the right thing. 

Keep ‘Em Safe

The first step in your email marketing campaigns is going to be about keeping your customers safe. We know you’re not shielding them from the harsh realities of the world or promising safety forever, but you want to make sure they actually signed up to hear from you.

Otherwise, it’s like going to a party uninvited and asking the host 10 times if she wants to purchase your shiny new shoes right off your feet. She probably doesn’t, and she’ll likely kick you out and never invite you back. 

Email marketing isn’t about screaming louder until your customers choose you. It’s about saying what you have to say in a way that your customers want to hear. The first rule is the rule of not being rude. It means that you don’t send marketing emails to non-subscribers. Obviously. It’s not only a good thing, it’s also illegal to refuse. 

Like everything good in life, you need to get consent before you send out emails, so make sure you’re practicing safe email collection. 

Collect Emails Safely

You don’t have to buy lists or send emails to your mom’s reunion committee to have followers. You just have to make it easy for people to sign up to hear from you. And honestly, people may actually want to hear from you– especially if you give out coupons or deals. 

  • Encourage customers to share your newsletters with friends 
  • Place a physical sign-up sheet in your office or store 
  • Guest blog  
  • Create a downloadable product
  • Add scannable QR codes to your physical products 
  • Include a sign-up form on social media 

Boom. Cool. Once you have this list, you’re awesome! You can send them all emails all of the time for the rest of their lives and they’ll never have a chance to get out of it…

Just kidding, you should actually send out a welcome email where you remind them who you are, why you’re emailing them, and you should always give them a chance to get away. Again, if you think about it like a party, you’ll be safe. You’d never corner someone and convince them to talk to you for hours so don’t do it over email. It’s just rude. And kinda creepy. 

Manage Subscribers with Trusted Programs

Keep cool and use cool programs. That’s a motto we heard once. And we thought it was weird, but we kinda liked it. Do that. You don’t have to take lessons on email programs or anything, and we don’t expect you to, but there are some cool programs that will help you track your emails a bit better. 

MailChimp

 MailChimp has easy-to-use features that will help you send better emails.

MailChimp Pricing Plan for Email Marketing

Why We Like MailChimp

  • Trusted company: Founded in 2001
  • Easy template creation process
  • Intuitive subscriber management tool
  • Detailed analytics data

Campaign Monitor

Like MailChimp, Campaign Monitor has a drag-and-drop process so you can create beautiful emails even if you still type with one hand on a flip phone (we see ya…)Campaign Monitor Campaign Pricing

 

 Why We Like Campaign Monitor

  • Manage multiple campaigns with one interface
  • Track data easily
  • Great customer support

 ActiveCampaign

Like the other programs, ActiveCampaign is great for email marketing campaigns, but we’re especially excited about the ability to separate lists based on interest and location. ActiveCampaign also integrates pretty seamlessly with your email, so you can track customer engagement, follow up with customers, and manage your campaigns directly from your email. 

 

Email Marketing Pricing for ActiveCampaign
 

Why We Like ActiveCampaign

  • Easy A/B testing
  • Site traffic analytics
  • SMS marketing
  • Easy contact marketing features

Converting Lists to an Email Program

Once you have a list, you’re on your way to generating compelling (and legal) email marketing campaigns. Good for you! But there’s a few more things you need to do to stay legal. 

Compliance Matters

People were so annoyed with unsolicited emails that a whole act had to come out of it. Enter the CAN-SPAM act of 2003. You can read up on the CAN-SPAM act yourself, or you can check out some of the most important parts of it here:

Craft a Relevant Headline

Your headline must be relevant to what’s in the email. If you’re selling something for 10% regular retail price, don’t claim that customers can find 50% off coupons inside your email. It’s not only rude, it’s also a bold-face lie! Oh, and it’s illegal. 

Make Opt-Out Easy

Don’t make customers wait two weeks to be removed from an email list. Don’t hide an unsubscribe button. And don’t make it difficult for people to stop receiving messages. It might seem counterintuitive to remove people from your email list, but isn’t it better to talk to people who actually want to hear from you?

Remember: to collect email addresses properly, you need affirmative consent (How to Collect Your Email Marketing Addresses). You want to make sure you have explicit permission to send emails out.

Watch 3rd Party Providers

Just because you chose another company to handle your emails doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. According to the CAN-SPAM act, “even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.”

Don’t Collect Unsafe Emails

We’re just gonna throw this out there: you probably shouldn’t collect email lists. Some of them are perfectly legal, but a lot of them are not. If emails come to you in Excel files or Word documents, they’re probably being bought and sold a lot, which means that not only are you engaging in unsafe business practices, but the people you email will probably hate every single one of your emails already.

Send a Welcome Email

When someone subscribes to your email list, you should send an automated email thanking them for signing up and reminding them what you offer. Let them know how often you’re emailing them and what type of stuff you’re going to send them. This isn’t required, but it sure will be nice.

Feel ready to create your campaign? Stay tuned for Part II, where we’ll explore some more technical details like how often you should send emails, how long your email should be, and what type of tone you should incorporate. 

What We’ve Been Reading

WhatWe´veBeenReading03

We spend a lot of time reading blogs, but we also like to get down with a good book! Check out our August reading list and hit the books. 

The Trap by Melanie Raabe – A debut novel about a novelist who writes a novel to try to trap the man she thinks killed her sister. Meta? Oh yessa.

Collected Poems by Jack Gilbert – The only collection of poems that make us speechless. Well, we lied. It’s not the only collection that makes us speechless, but it’s one of them.

Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – We’d make a Marquez monument if we could.

The World According to Star Wars by Carr R. Sunstein – We have no idea how we finished this one. It’s just a bunch of random half-baked thoughts put together. But we like that.

The Martian by Andy Weir – We love it because the author is a laboratory programmer and software engineer who just sort of accidentally wrote an amazing novel.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald –  This is  an exploration of the human condition in relation to the most wild experiences a person can imagine.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – If you’re looking for a book with depressing characters, we’ve got you covered.

The Infinite Variety of Music by Leonard Bernstein –  We’re loving Bernstein’s lectures about music and composition because he’s clear and passionate.

Ogilvy’s On Advertising & Us

What we learned about advertising from reading Ogilvy’s On Advertising and how it’s still relevant

As a small design studio, there’s no shortage of inspiration, but we often look back on those tried-and-true techniques from the advertising masters, and Ogilvy is our main man.

Like every other design firm, we read On Advertising so you don’t have to, and we pulled some of our favorite ideas for you:

Truths about advertising

1. The only way to get new clients is to do good work

This tip spans corporations, careers, and goals. It’s the same everywhere. If you do good work, you’ll get hired. It’s pretty much that simple. But we like to take it a step further and we follow the golden rule: only do work for others that you would like to see done unto you.

That means that we try to write copy that is good enough for our team, incorporate designs that we’d be happy to put on our portfolio, and work with trusted companies who make us feel like we’re the only studio in the world. 

2. Don’t bury the news

If you have great news, shout it. Don’t “hide it in the body copy.” That’s what headlines are for, and Ogilvy knows how to incorporate the copy properly. A web design studio should be able to know the difference between news and loud voices.

3. Pay attention to the rules

  • Specifics are better than generalizations – this is why Ogilvy’s old ad like “Shop at Sears and save (their profit is less than 5%)” works best. We need that bit of information to understand exactly how Sears can help people save.

Ogilvy recommends staying away from some frequent issues:

  • analogies – even though they sound pretty great, most readers won’t understand them. It’s always better to be informative than clever, in these cases.
  • superlatives- the best idea is to stay away from the ugliest, baddest, and most unimpressive idea in the book.
  • incorporate the price of the product – otherwise, your ad could seem gimmicky.
  • never put the headline under the body copy.
  • white copy on black backgrounds are hard to read.

4. Don’t waste time

If something isn’t working, it occasionally pays to keep trying. But what happens if it still doesn’t work? If you’ve shoveled a ton of money into an ad, a market, or a product? We agree with Ogilvy: be brave. Admit defeat when you are defeated. “Back your winners, and abandon your losers.”

History of Animation

We traced a bit about the history of animation because we think it's pretty cool!

You might be aware that we’ve been expanding our animation abilities here at Entermotion, and we wanted to trace the history of animation a bit since we’re pretty much obsessed.

Movement and Film: How We Got Here

As wild and freakish as it might seem, animation didn’t spring up in the 20th century. In fact, in the 1970s, a bowl was found in Iran. And not just any bowl, but a 5,200-year-old bowl that featured sequential images with minimal changes. It wasn’t simply a decoration, it was an early animation. When spun around, the images would seem to move, or be animated.

Even before modern animation techniques were possible, humans were fascinated with making the inanimate animate.

We have Frankenstein’s monster; we have early creation stories where men were born of dust; there’s a need to find and think about movement, and, even before film, early photographic techniques were used in order to give the idea of movement.

Magic Lantern

In the 17th century, around the same time when advances in seeing were heightened (Kipler discovered that planets move elliptically instead of circularly; Galileo discovered Jupiter’s moons; Paradise Lost was published– even though Milton himself was blind), a concave mirror instead of a black structure changed the way we were able to see movement from static images.

The magic lantern could be hand operated to project moving images (two slides would be placed on top of each other with nearly identical images save for a tiny difference. An operator would move one of the slides so that a “moving” image would appear on the screen.)

It’s a long way to the depth perception we were able to see in Snow White, but it’s magical nonetheless.

The Road to Movement

After the magic lantern were a variety of devices that ultimately helped us create animation today– we had the thaumatrope in the 1800s, which was a 2-sided disk decorated with two different images (one on each side) that was hung on a string.

When it spun, the images, of course, displayed movement.

The Phenakistoscop

The phenakistoscop, besides being difficult to pronounce, is an incredible animation device that gave the illusion of movement. Sort of like the early bowl found on Iran, the phenakistoscop incorporated a series of images drawn onto a disk. According to a course at North Caroline School of Sciences and Mathematics,

The phenakistoscope consisted of two discs mounted on the same axis.  The first disc had slots around the edge, and the second contained drawings of successive action, drawn around the disc in concentric circles.  Unlike Faraday’s Wheel, whose pair of discs spun in opposite directions, a phenakistoscope’s discs spin together in the same direction.  When viewed in a mirror through the first disc’s slots, the pictures on the second disc will appear to move.

The Kinetoscope and its Advances

The kinetoscope, created by Thomas Edison, based on the earlier patents made by Louis Le Prince, is, in our opinion, one of the coolest advances in animation.

It worked by “conveying a strip of perforated film bearing sequential images over a light source with a high-speed shutter.”

Our Favorite Examples of Early Animation

Edison and his company were able to create some “dramas,” like the one below, which features a man who overslept attempting to get ready to catch his train in time.

A collection of Edison’s early videos can be found on the Library of Congress’ website.

  Workers Leaving the Factory

After Edison, of course, more developments came.

 

1895 Auguste and Louis Lumiere project their film, “Workers Leaving the

Lumiere Factory in Lyon-Montplaisir” which you can see above.

In 1907, we get “The Haunted Hotel”