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Designing Your Christmas Emails

Yes, it’s that time of year again – time to start planning your email marketing campaigns for Christmas.

But how to go about it? Here I’ve listed the few things that will help you structure a winning Christmas campaign.

When Is The Best Time To Send Christmas Emails?

You may have already seen the odd Christmas email many months before the actual season arrives; maybe as early as July! However, it depends on your industry as to when it’s the best time for you to send out your first Christmas email campaign.

Retail – You tend to see Christmas emails appear around the second week in November, with particular emphasis around the Black Friday and Cyber Monday events later in the month.

Travel and Leisure – Really early, as in just after the last Christmas break. People tend to make plans early on to grab a deal, and if you are going to go away for Christmas you would have made that decision by September.

Charities and Not for Profit – Christmas is the time for giving and the spirit of good will. You’ll receive a surge of donations around the Christmas period, so September is the ideal time to begin your campaign.

Make sure you plan ahead for Christmas and use a promotional calendar to highlight key dates for your business and industry.

Don’t Forget The Last Minute Shoppers

Some people out there like to hang around and wait for a good deal, or they have just been so busy they have left it to the last minute. Shopping for the perfect gift can even be left to as late as December 21st.

To catch these last minute shoppers, you need to make your email as simple and as easy to read as possible. Avoid over the top fancy graphics or gifs in your emails and make sure it’s mobile responsive for these people on the go.

Engage Your Target Audience

Don’t use the same subject lines that everyone else is using

Common culprits are the usual ‘Best Christmas Deals’ or ‘Free Shipping on your Christmas Presents’.

Try playing with words to make your reader actually read your email, rather than skipping it. Personalise it, use your company theme to make it about you!

Have some fun with the call to actions

Rather than just a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Click Here’ button, how about ‘Put It On The List’ or ‘Add to Santa’s’ Sleigh’?

Don’t forget to fluff up the benefit to the product. You aren’t just selling a product, you’re giving your customer the perfect gift for their loved ones.

Split Test to Measure Performance

Do you actually know what your customers are responding to? Split testing is the best way to figure out what is engaging your customers to optimise your content.

Connect Your Social Media Profiles

Publish a link to your mail-outs on your Social channels. Linking to channels can boost your online presence and promote yourselves more when users are particularly more active over the holiday season.

The Overall Design Of The Email

Branding is always important, but the email needs to be recognisable as a Christmas one. The usual colour palette for the season is warm reds and greens (holly and Christmas trees), but whites and soft blues (snow) are also common.

Use plenty of white space and don’t go too over the top with your graphical elements. Using imagery and animated gifs associated with the holiday season can be a nice distinguishable touch. These include, Santa and his sleigh, Christmas trees, baubles, holly wreaths and such like.

Don’t let changing the design frighten you. It needn’t be a massive overhaul of your current templates.

Remember, you shouldn’t stray too far from your current design, otherwise your customers may not know it’s you.

Don’t Kill The Atmosphere

It’s tempting to just blast your customers with many Christmas deals, but this could become annoying for your subscribers and result in your emails being marked as junk. Read our previous blog for tips on how to avoid the spam folder at one of the most important times of the year.

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Effective call-to-actions

Call-to-actions are an essential part of any email.

Getting them to grab the readers attention to achieve those all important click-throughs is paramount. So what makes an effective call-to-action?

Colour

Making your call-to-action catch the reader’s eye is key, hence why you will often see orange buttons as a result. As a rule of thumb, your call-to-actions should be in a contrasting colour to the rest of your email. However, if this isn’t possible, then you will need to give extra consideration to the placement of your buttons.

Placement

It’s unlikely your subscribers will read the entire email, in fact, you may only have a few seconds to grab their attention. Therefore, make sure you keep your call-to-actions above the fold so that your subscribers don’t have to scroll. If they can’t easily see how to respond, they won’t know what to click.

Text

There is almost no reason why the words ‘click here’ should exist on a call-to-action. Instead, use the text to describe the benefits – ‘Download your FREE Guide’ or ‘Save 20% NOW’. Make sure it’s clear to the recipient what the call-to-action does. The use of icons alongside the text that are descriptive can also help to tell the subscriber what is the other side of the click.

Draw attention to them

There are some simple techniques to draw more attention to call-to-action buttons. This might be an arrow pointing to it, or if you have pictures of people in your hero image get them looking in the direction of the button.

Mobile friendly

When viewing your email on a phone, it’s important to remember that the pointing device is big fingers. Your call-to-actions need to be bigger on a mobile screen as a result.

Testing

One of the best ways to identify the most effective call-to-actions for your audience is to conduct a split test, comparing two different theories against each other to see which works best. Perhaps this may be the placement of your call-to-action or the text used to entice the recipient to click-through.

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Mobile email HTML design tips

The rise of the smartphone has been phenomenal.

It seems as though almost everyone (aprt from my Nan) has either an iPhone or Android “hand-hold-e-computer-machine” (Nan again).

More than 70% of people read their email in a mobile app, 10 years ago it was about 20%. No wonder Nan can’t keep up!

With this ever increasing mobile activity for emails, we thought it was time to give you some tips on creating a mobile friendly version of your marketing emails.

I personally think that its more time efficient to create an online mobile friendly version (similar to a weblink) rather than setting up two versions of each email, but the tips below are valid for both methods:

  • Make sure that you are sending a text alternative to your HTML version.

Mobile email readers are small. The big devices close to or under 1150 pixels, while common mobile email readers are in a range of 320 pixels.

Bare these screen displays in mind depending on your audience:

  • Email for desktop viewing = 600 pixels
  • iPhone 5S portrait = 640 pixels
  • iPhone 5S landscape = 1136 pixels
  • iPad 2 portrait = 768 pixels
  • iPad 2 landscape = 1024 pixels
  • Stick to a single column layout and make sure the content is left aligned
  • Keep images to a minimum and make sure they are small in size
  • Automatic text resizing – many mobile devices automatically resize your fonts, which can impact on the design. Use the CSS rule below to disable this:
    -webkit-text-size-adjust: none;
  • Space your links out! It can be troublesome clicking the correct link on a touch screen so make it as easy as possible.
  • Is your website mobile friendly? It’s all well and good optimising your email marketing for mobile devices but make sure the landing pages you are directing them to are as well.
  • Test your work – make sure that you thoroughly test your web version before going live.
    There are some great tools out there for this, such as Litmus.