Archive for July, 2012

Pinterest is a frequent topic of conversation these days and I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon for the sake of it, however I do want to share some useful tips about how to integrate email and Pinterest.

Firstly, for the initiated, Pinterest is the third most popular social media site in terms of site visits, behind Facebook and Twitter. (According to Hitwise) Pinterest is a virtual pin board where people can ‘Pin’ images from websites, upload and share their own images, and ‘Re-pin’ images from other people. It allows you to collate these images into categorised boards which you can share, and others on Pinterest can see and share & re-pin. It is visual in nature, and draws a largely female audience – obviously it resonates with females due to our ‘gathering’ instincts, and appeals to our visual nature, and particularly appeals because of the strong themes around home, fashion, food and family. (Among many other categories) and it can be, and is, used heavily for planning weddings, birthdays, vacations etc.

It is also being used for brands to showcase their products, art, designs, and show ‘behind the scenes’ of the company, which helps build the brand personality and personal connection to your customers. So it is no surprise that it is quickly becoming a key player in online marketing. You might be surprised to learn however that the ability to integrate Pinterest with your email marketing channel to build and grow your Pinterest presence is relatively easy. So here are a couple of tips about how to bring these two channels together, beyond just adding a “follow us on Pinterest” button to your email.

Here are the five most productive ways to increase social media ROI by linking the two:

1. Use Email to Announce Your Pinterest Presence
It is often said and well known that your email subscribers are your best and most loyal customers. If your brand fits with the typical demographic of the Pinterest user, you have every reason to promote your presence on the site, and share your images with your customers. One great example is how zulily has embraced its Pinterest presence by not only telling their subscribers what they can find on Pinterest, but also creating content specific to the channel via poster creation and even featuring an incentive to encourage Pinning from their site. (Click here or on the image to your right to view the full email)

2. Include “Pin This” Icons within Your Email
Including a Pinterest icon with a simple string of code is all you need to do to get your content from your email to your Board. You even have the ability to pass through a description to accompany the image – and descriptions in Pinterest are important. A few fun things to note here: if you include a dollar amount price in the description, Pinterest will automatically place a banner in the top, left hand side of the image feature the price; it will also place the Pin in the Gift Guides from the main drop down. Another fun note is that descriptions can also help impact SEO. Think the descriptions through as carefully as you choose your imagery.

3. Co-ordinate New Boards or Pins Around Email Deployment
If you are including references to Pinterest within your email communication, chances are your customers may visit your Pinterest wall of various boards following an email deployment. It is a good idea to have new content available when they get there. To that point, you should be putting up new content, arranging boards and managing the “above the fold” appearances of your Pinterest presence frequently to deter fatigue.

4. Here are some other ideas you might like to consider: 

  • Create new pins and update your Pinterest boards around email deployment schedules to complement the email message.
  • Add the Pinterest icon to your social media sharing icons in email campaigns and newsletters etc.
  • Create specific boards around your email marketing calendar (holidays, big events, social media trends, special sales, or any popular Pinterest category that’s relevant to your brand).
  • Include visuals of Pinterest activity in your email campaigns, including the Pinterest activity of your most social community members or ‘behind the scenes’ shots.
  • Prepare your boards before an email deploys, so that the content is updated and fresh by the time traffic spikes.
  • Keep your boards looking fresh by rearranging them frequently, make sure featured pins are “above the fold” and make sure you choose the best ‘album cover’ for each board.
  • Stay social – repin other people’s pins, monitor the community, and start a conversation with users.
  • Tap Pinterest’s potential to add to your social media ROI and create boards that mirror the interests, activities, demographics etc, of your customers or followers.
  • Have customized boards for different segments of your email database, and of course you’ll want to know who is pinning from your site and engage them on other social platforms as well.
  • Pin emails to Pinterest for faster ROI, by linking your email marketing campaigns to your Pinterest.


As you can imagine, this is an ever-evolving topic and new information is coming out every day – we are just scratching the surface of what marketers can do with this channel, so look at this as a few tips to help get you started.
Want more? click here to read more advice about combining email and Pinterest.

So start thinking about what you want to share with your prospects and customers – think about how you can communicate those things through email and social media. Those are the key questions that will determine whether or not pinning email to Pinterest should be part of your plan. If you are using both email and social media, then you’ll find that linking them together in a planned, coordinated effort will make a significant positive change in your social media ROI.

According to the 60 Second Marketer blog, email marketing is powerful because it delivers your message to a subscriber’s inner sanctum—alongside party invites from friends, and photos from recent family trips. Because of this, they say, “You need to develop a relationship with the consumer as well. Otherwise you are just an intruder in a house [where] you don’t belong.”

They make a very good point. Below are a few tips for making subscribers think of you as a friend whose message belongs in their inbox:

Be personable.
A friend knows how to spell your name correctly; remembers your birthday; takes note of your likes and dislikes; and speaks to you in an informal, conversational voice. There’s no reason why your email can’t exhibit all of these traits as well.

Be consistent.
We all have that friend who alternates between bombarding us with messages and disappearing for weeks or months at a time. It gets old in a hurry. So be the friend who stays in touch consistently, yet never comes on too strong.

Be concise.
“You don’t want to be that friend who takes 20 minutes to tell a 2-minute story” the 60 Second Marketer team notes. We agree. Emails with short snippets of content, and a brief intro consistently come out on top.

Be sensitive.
Friends recognize when “now” isn’t a good time to talk – and it’s important to remember that when thinking about the time you send your email campaigns. Mornings might be an ideal time to catch a stay-at-home mother; Friday evening, conversely, might be a terrible time to reach a B2B customer who keeps a regular office schedule. This might seem obvious but it can be easy to overlook, and is important to consider.

Further to these points, here is a post that talks about the ins and outs of personalisation.

The Point:
Thinking of your subscribers as your friends is an effective way to gauge the appropriateness of your email program’s different initiatives—and not wear out your welcome.

Want some more tips? Here’s some more information about engagement and why it’s so important.

Source: 60 Second Marketer


Expanding on our earlier post about re-engagement, we thought we would talk a bit about subject lines specifically for re-engagement campaigns.

I’m sure we all agree, the subject line is really the door to the email, that really hooks you and gets you to open it, (The email that is, not the door) Of course other factors are just as important, but for today, the guy in the hot seat is the subject line.

We take some inspiration from Tim Watson from Smart Insights who recently presented at the DMA Email Customer Lifecycle Win-back breakfast seminar. He has provided a full write up which you can read here but we know you are busy and we thought you might like a summary.

So what makes for a winning subject line?  Tim says the tone and voice must reflect the current state of relationship to the person you are communicating. He says for your active/engaged subscribers, the usual incentive based ‘hey it’s us again, here’s 20% off just for you’ subject line works, however for disengaged customers, a different type of subject line is needed. People are people regardless of the brand or what they are purchasing, and they may be inactive or disengaged for a reason so don’t just launch in and stuff your products down their throat without first asking what’s going on for them. So, some good principles to follow are:

  • It should be different to the subject line of a normal marketing message.
  • It should be simple and honest
  • It should have a conversational style
  • It should NOT try to sell anything
  • Questions work very well

Here is a little case study for you. Three companies ran subject line split tests to find the best performing subject line. The three winning subject lines were:

  • Was it something we said?
  • Are we still welcome in your inbox?
  • Is this goodbye?

These three winning subject lines are from independent tests, from different companies, with different audiences. Yet it is very interesting to note they are all questions, and all so similar.

And apparently, the words free, win or save in the subject line were also tested and found to decrease the response rate when directed at inactive subscribers. So steer away from these in this context.

We suggest as a good rule of thumb, to keep the subject line for your re-engagement campaigns to inactive subscribers honest, simple, conversational, don’t sell anything, don’t assume anything, and preferably use a question. Also be open to offering an incentive in the email if appropriate. I would even suggest using a feedback form to get some information around why these subscribers are inactive, and use this as an opportunity to enhance your communications and learn what your subscribers want.

PS – want some more examples? Read this post on effective subject lines.

There seem to be more and more highly designed, image heavy emails coming out, and the following emails make a stunning job of it. We are forming quite the collection of well-designed emails at this end and thought we would share some of our collection with you.

1: Fancy 


This email is from Fancy. It takes the concept of Pinterest, where it lets you find and like images of things you like, and takes it one step further, by linking to where you can actually buy the item instead of simply admiring it from your chair.

I have been on the site for a few months now, and every week they send me a stunning email, dressed top to bottom with rows of the most arty, delicious, affronting, and outstanding images and products I have seen anywhere. I love the design because they are such an image heavy site, and their email reflects this. It’s basically a series of rows of images, only broken by a minimal amount of copy. There is nothing to clutter the top of the email such as an intro/contents/links or any shiny buttons or call to actions. It’s clean and simple, and really we know they know that we are all here to see the images. It’s also so compelling because you can’t help but be drawn down to see the next image… and the next…. before you know it you are at the bottom clicking on their ‘check out what else is new’ link…

Click here or on the image to view the full email.


2: American Apparel

This month’s email example is a highly designed newsletter from American Apparel.

Why did it stand out?

It is very simple, with a clean, bold design and is very image heavy.

Visually, they have their call to action at the top right corner, which means people can click to see more and are not required to scroll.  All the images are the same size and all line up perfectly which both great design-wise, and the bold images and straight lines really appeal to the eye. Each image is also a call to action, taking the recipient to their campaign online. And I found that because the images take up the whole email, I found it was hard not to click on at least a couple of images. Also having a variety of bold images like that gives people a lot to look at and take in, and I found myself drawn to look at every image from top to bottom.

Copy wise, the heading is large, and self-explanatory, and it matches the bold simple nature of the email. The little bit of copy they do have is at the bottom; however I think it works for this email. It is also easily and quickly digestible, but it still manages to tell the reader about American Apparel, and about their campaign.

Click here or on the image to see the full version. And then tell us what do you like about this campaign!
I challenge you to find more visually compelling and outstanding image-heavy emails than these. Please, go ahead. If you find any, let me know.

It is always a good idea to send out re-engagement campaigns to your inactive subscribers every so often.

A re-engagement campaign generally means you send a re-opt in email to your inactive subscribers to see if you can get them to re-engage with you, (And more importantly to see if they want to re-engage with you)  The main thing is you don’t want to lose these subscribers right? So how do you re-connect with them?

There are effectively two types of re-engagement campaign:

1. Re-activation:
Send this campaign if your recipients are still opening your emails, but haven’t made any purchases or taken any actions.

2. Re-permission:
Send this campaign if your recipients are not engaged in any way and you want to confirm whether they still want to receive your emails.

These are both great ways to help build your reputation, keep your list attrition rate down, keep email subscriber engagement up, and keep your list up to date.

Click here to see some great examples of email campaigns that will get subscribers engaged and buying again.

But apart from running a re-engagement campaign, here are a few ways to increase engagement that you can do all the time:

1 Use preference centers
They allow subscribers to control and customise the content they receive, and they provide you with data which you can use to further tailor emails based on a recipient’s information and preferences. It allows you to give subscribers what they want, when they want it. It let’s the subscribers be in control, and when they have control, they are happy, and are more likely to engage. (Tip: Check out this post on using dynamic content to enhance email campaigns depending on subscribers preferences)

2 Include a feedback link in all your emails
Allowing your recipients to give you feedback establishes 2 way communication, and it allows you to hone your content based on the opinions you receive. For example, if you are a travel agent, send a welcome home email and ask the customer how their trip was.

3 Use good send settings
Consistently use a ‘friendly’ from email and from name.  Subscribers don’t open email from people they don’t recognise. And it’s also important to note that reputation and deliverability is in part based on having good send settings. And never use a no-reply address. Never. Click here to read a previous post about the importance of your from name.

4 Include an unsubscribe link
Always include a clear unsubscribe link in all emails you send out. (This is one of the criteria of CAN-SPAM so is a vital element of all emails) Here is a cartoon that we featured in a previous post, which sums up how subscribers can quickly go from happy to unsubscribe.

5  Use personalisation
The level of personalisation can vary depending on the sender and the type of campaign. Simply inserting their name in the email works well – people like that. However you can vary the level of personalisation and do much more with it, depending on how relevant and how effective it is for your brand and the particular campaign. Overall, personalisation has been proven to help with open rates, increase your reputation, and the subscribers appreciate it. Show they matter to you and that you ‘listen’. Check out our previous post on personalisation.

6 Include a safe senders link
Always include an ‘add me to your safe senders list’  link in all the emails you send out. This means recipients are more likely to add you to their safe senders list, so that you get delivered to their inbox, which in turn decreases your spam rate and increases your reputation.

Bottom Line:
Always create engaging messages that are based on your subscriber’s preferences.  Content that subscribers find valuable and helpful will always succeed, and emails that contain only marketing statements will always fail.

And remember – ‘Be wise – personalise!’