Archive for November, 2011

To complement our two part email series on preparing for Christmas, we wanted to share our tips for maximising the effectiveness of your Christmas campaign, and how to stand out amongst all the other Christmas mail.

1) The first step is to prepare.
It’s the Christmas season and everyone gets busy, so plan in advance.  Here are our top pointers for preparation.

Think about who your target audience is
WHAT are you offering
WHY you are offering it
HOW often you will email people (Will you set up a fun series of Christmas emails, or send just the one super Christmas email?)

After spending all year building rapport with customers and sending great email campaigns, the last thing you want to do is hurriedly put together a last minute Christmas email. This is where it counts! Send something they’ll remember all of next year and keep them coming back for more.

And speaking of WHO, WHAT, and WHY, keep in mind the relevancy of the campaign to the recipients. Those Christmas garden galoshes may be superb, but if you are sending them to someone who would rather hear about your garden cricket set, you have lost a major opportunity to both appeal to your customers and sell them something.

And with everyone struggling to be heard at Christmas, relevancy is more important than ever! Mail that is tailored to your recipients and personalised will grab their attention over the emails that are bland and generic. So think about how you can tailor your Christmas campaigns to your recipients.

2) The first thing someone sees before opening your beautiful email is your subject line.
If you have done all that planning, then people don’t open your email because of the subject line, then it doesn’t matter how great your email is. So getting your subject line right is important. Make sure it is intriguing, catchy and stands out amongst the rest. Some key things to think about are whether or not personalization is relevant or suitable. Also you don’t want your email getting picked up by spam filters, so avoid using words like “sale” and “free” too much.

3) Once you have got into their inbox….
A creative, well designed email with a Christmas theme that is interactive and fun is great for this time of year.  Also, sending your clients an email to thank them for their loyalty over the past year is a great way to encourage loyalty in the coming year and make your clients feel appreciated. So make it a goal of yours this year to have the smartest and most memorable Christmas message of all!

If you would like any ideas, our creative team has loads! Get in touch with us now  

Top Tip:
Your subscribers are about to be inundated with communications from various businesses and chances are they‘ll unsubscribe from a few of them. So why not get to know them a little better, and ask your subscribers to update their preferences with you before they get bombarded. Then you can use this information to provide them with more relevant communications during the Christmas onslaught. The more relevant your communication is, the more likely they are to be engaged and the less likely they are to hit that unsubscribe link.

Today we have received a lovely email from Anytime Fitness with a great deal. However we couldn’t really identify said deal from their email…

 Some of our staff go to this gym and they are great, and their staff are lovely. However from the email we received from them today, we identified a few things they could do to improve on their email campaigns.



1) Font color. Their header font is white and their footer font is black. And the blue link in the footer is almost impossible to read. It is always important to ensure that you stay with your brand look and feel, and stick to consistent design, font colors, etc.

2) Font size. This font is OK but any larger and can have the tendency to look like spam. Be aware that the optimal font size is 10 or 12 (This is what we stick to when designing emails) and if it is any bigger it usually gets picked up by spam filters.

3) Watch your use of jargon. Note the sentence “You are able to use your access fob…” Now I have spoken to someone who attends the gym and even they don’t know what the fob is. Always watch your use of jargon.

4) Template. You may have seen some of the stunning templates we get to put together for clients at Jericho. They are structured, have a set width, includes images that catch the eye, they are structured into tables that help certain elements stand out and makes everything easy to read. More importantly, spammers don’t tend to use templates, instead choosing to use line after line of plain text. So this only serves to highlight how this email could have been improved by a template.

5) Centre Aligning. I think this came and went with comic sans.  It is very difficult for people to read so be sure to keep things left aligned.

6) Lack of prominent offer or call to action. We here at the office are struggling to identify what the offer actually is and where to find it in the email. And what do we do now? Where is our clear and simple call to action? One of the most important things to include in your email is information that answers these questions – who is this from, what is it for, what’s in it for me, and what do I do now?

7) Line height. It doesn’t help that the font is large and centre aligned, however we suggest increasing the line height to improve readability.

8) Contrast. The contrast of black on white generally is quite hard on the eyes – we suggest using a softer colored font, or a subtly colored background.

9) The main thing we noticed was what initially appeared to be Name and contact number fields that hadn’t been filled out correctly. The words in capitals do say ‘your free membership links’ so I was expecting to see links to something that gave me free memberships.  So I thought this was a matter of them not having checked the email correctly before sending. However after looking at the email 10 more times I see that it is actually where I need to input the names of 6 of my friends and then reply to the them with that information… Not many people look through emails more than once, so if they were like me they will miss this entirely. I will now reiterate the importance of having a clear call to action as mentioned in point 6.

10) I will give them this - they had a catchy subject line that was clever and worked well, and the email did pass all the tests on litmus that we ran it through. Litmus is the service that tests your email campaign against all major spam filters and will tell you if it will pass or fail the filters requirements, and gives you grades accordingly. Any number of things can influence this such as having all images or all text, or words such as ‘deal’ free’ sale’ and ‘$’.

So you can see how the little things can make such a big difference. We hope you use this as an opportunity to review your own campaigns and look out for the little things you could do to enhance your emails.

The “welcome” email may be the most important email you send. Why?

Because for many of your subscribers, it’s their first email experience with your brand, and for some it might even be their first interaction with your company. 

We all know first impressions count, so this is your best chance to create a good  first impression with your new subscriber. So don’t treat it like a simple confirmation email and fire back something bland and generic. And the worst thing you can do is send no welcome email at all.

If you don’t send one, it means you have lost an opportunity to engage with a potential customer,  and lost an opportunity to send a really great personalized introduction into your company. Beyond the welcome email, you don’t know what a new subscriber’s first email experience with your brand will be. It could be a notification, or a price hike. And what sort of first impression is that.

Here is how not to do it – the image below shows that more than 20% of the UK’s top retailers send no emails in the first 30 days – that is no way to win over new subscribers!

Instead, create a welcome email, or even a series, that gets new subscribers on board and engaged. This enhances the perception of your brand and the value of your email program. It’s also the best time to inform subscribers of what they can do on your website, who to contact for queries, allow them to update their preferences and details via your preference centre, and you can provides immediate value through content such as free white papers or loyalty incentives.

I have an example of one such welcome email that came into my inbox the other day. I was scouting around Marketing Prof’s website and signed up to their regular emails. Within moments of signing up, I had a welcome email in my inbox. It was well laid out, professional looking, reflected their brand, was welcoming, had informative content, and best of all had a list of quick links to more information and valuable resources, and it had their contact details at the bottom.

I couldn’t have asked for more – so below is a screenshot of the email just for you:

Your welcome email really is the best opportunity to engage subscribers, and there is also research that suggests welcome emails generate the best open rates – when done well – and can leave your subscribers and new customers with a lasting good impression of your company or brand, and sets the stage for any future email communications.

 Here are 4 ways that you may waste the golden opportunity presented by sending a welcome email:

1. Not sending a welcome email message at all
2. Taking longer than 24 hours to send your welcome email message
3. Not setting expectations for future email messages
4. Not having a call to action in your email message

Now, here are 5 ways you can immediately enhance your welcome email:

1. Set the stage for future email communication
2. Have a call to action in your welcome email
3. Have links to useful content, your webpage, etc.
4. Provide added value such as video’s or white papers
5. A welcoming and professional email that reflects your brand or company

So go and give your welcome email (Or the whole series) some love. Compare your email to the best practices mentioned above and look for ways to improve the way you communicate your brand, company and your value to subscribers.

For more on email Welcomes – see our most popular post of all time – 8 Outstanding welcome email examples

What is your image to text ratio?Generally, emails that fall into the spam category will contain either all text or all images. If it is the latter, it’s because they try and hide their spammy copy in images so it doesn’t get picked up by spam filters.

Click here to read our PDF that gives you a list of the top spammy words to stay away from…

Here at Jericho we are all about best practices, deliverability and improving your open rates. So a good balance of images to text is the way to go. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to this, however an 80:20 ratio is always best. That means 80% of your email should be copy, and 20% images.

Click here to read the SEO Addendum on Text To Image Ratio. It very simply outlines a good text to image ratio.

The next thing to tackle once you have a good ratio of text to images, it to make sure you include alt text against all of the images in your email so that those people that don’t see the images by default can still read what the images are and get an idea of what your email is about. If your alt text is good this often gets the recipient to download the images just so they can see what you are talking about.

One main reason that we always include alt text is because so many email clients are blocking images by default now more than ever. A 2009 report from Merkle states that only 48% of email recipients see images automatically. This means that if an email campaign relies heavily on images, it’s probably not being read by over half of its intended recipients.

Campaign Moniter has a great post about image blocking in email clients -  click here to read their post.

What this all means is that you have to be prepared for the images in your campaigns to be blocked automatically when recipients receive your email. Here are some key points to prepare your email campaign against image blocking:

  1. Begin an email with HTML text or logical ALT text. We can determine what a recipient sees in the preview pane or message window. This means we can optimise what they see when they are quickly scanning through their emails, and make sure they know what your email is about, and are intrigued enough to download the images and or open the email.
  2. Use ALT text. This seems so obvious to us, and it is best practice to include alt text against all of the images in your campaign, however there are many emails that still go out without ALT text.
  3. Use captions for contextually-important images. In lieu of proper support for ALT text across the board, we can add captions to images which are vitally important to the content of an email.

As a closing note, image blocking is something that we all have to take into consideration, especially now when so many email clients do not display images by default, it’s likely that they will either not display in most preview panes, or simply get junked/deleted.

The good news is that there are both practical and highly creative approaches you can take to this issue, most of which are easy to implement. If you have a favorite technique for ensuring your message gets displayed in any inbox, we’d love to hear it.