Email Marketing Blog

Guest Post: Next Level Email Marketing Changes Behavior and Brand Perception

Posted by on 9:00 am in Blog, Email Marketing | 1 comment

Below is a guest post from one of our partners, RUKUS, a company that specializes in mobile-first personalized video campaigns. Have a read!

Personalized video email marketing is proven to increase conversions and encourage engagement but at, we’re asking does it change behavior and brand perception? A recent campaign with Zumba Fitness suggests yes.

At the Chicago Direct Marketing Association (DMA) conference, I met the ZUMBA Fitness folks and shared some results achieved with one-to-one personalized video email campaigns. Wayne Miller, senior manager of email and marketing automation explained that he had been charged with three tasks (1) deliver next-level engagement for this year’s Zumba Instructor Conference 2014, (2) increase ZUMBA Fitness brand awareness, and (3) outperform last year’s attendee registration rates. Having already implemented best practices including responsive mobile layouts and static video embedding, this was a difficult challenge.The first time Wayne saw a real-time personalized video, he saw an opportunity:

“To see something like that, generated in real-time, is mind blowing. That level of engagement is what we were looking for. People haven’t really seen something like this before. Presenting our conference with RUKUS, putting someone in the moment of convention before they’re even there, was kind of a no brainer.”

Consumers are increasingly desensitized to traditional email marketing tactics. Including the subscriber’s name in the greeting or body copy has lost its luster.

Each name on your email list is a human being, a real person. They expect to be treated with care and respect.


Coding Pixel Perfect HTML Emails – The Whitepaper

Posted by on 12:35 pm in Blog, Email Marketing, Email Marketing Whitepapers | 0 comments

coverCoding and troubleshooting HTML emails can be tough. Very tough.

That’s why we’ve made this handy guide to help walk you through some of the biggest pitfalls and bugs common with HTML email coding. You’ll learn what to look out for, how different email clients like to render things, and how to transition your emails to mobile responsive templates. All that and a wealth of other resources are included in our latest whitepaper.

Download the whitepaper now!  Complete the short form below:

Enter in your information below to download the Pixel Perfect Whitepaper

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Inbox Group Talks Email Marketing Automation: Podcast

Posted by on 1:01 pm in Blog, Email Marketing | 0 comments

We recently had the pleasure of joining Jeffrey Rice of Brick Street Software on Marketing Tech Talk to discuss how email marketing automation can be an email marketer’s (and digital marketer’s) best friend.

In this podcast, we discussed two crucial automated programs that can make a big impact in your email marketing: Welcome Programs and Cart Abandonment Programs.

Have a listen to our Marketing Tech Talk with Jeffrey Rice on the UR Business Network.



You can also check out our whitepapers on the two subjects:

Exploit the Power of the Welcome – Email Marketing Whitepaper

Save Your Shopping Carts with Email – Email Marketing Whitepaper

An Email Marketing Reminder from Gmail: You Don’t Control the Inbox

Posted by on 12:07 pm in Blog, Email Marketing | 0 comments

An Email Marketing Reminder from Gmail: You Don’t Control the Inbox

In case you missed recent events, Gmail has added unsubscribe functionality to their UI. Lifehacker has a good, quick synopsis on this topic. (Okay, Gmail has had this for a while—they’re just making it much more obvious.)

And while the world assumes that email marketers are flipping out over this development, I offer you two reasons why I for 1) am not flipping out over this, and 2) believe this is actually a positive development for email marketers.

Reason 1: Email Marketers Don’t Have Control Over the Inbox.

This is just another reminder from the ISPs of the world that they (and, to a certain extent, their customers) control the inbox. ISPs don’t make money off of email marketing, so they’re in the business of protecting their networks and their customers—the users.

Email marketers don’t control whether their message gets delivered. They establish a sender reputation

The sooner email marketers can come to terms with that, the better off we’ll all be.

Reason 2: Unsubscribes are better than spam complaints

Unsubscribes and spam complaints both mean the same thing: People want off your list.

When that becomes the case, you want people to unsubscribe.

It may seem counterintuitive, but making the unsubscribe process easier to find and act upon is better. Unsubscribes don’t hurt your sender reputation (how ISPs see you and allow your messages to be delivered). And more unsubscribes tend to lower spam complaints—the type of negative engagement that hurts your program in the long term.

Here’s an anecdotal, personal experience case study that shows what I’m talking about:

In my previous life on the client side, I wanted to reduce spam complaints on a monthly newsletter I was sending out. I convinced my bosses that having the unsubscribe at the top and bottom of the email would likely reduce spam complaints.

The first month I tested my hypothesis, spam complaints were cut in half and unsubscribe rate only rose marginally. Mission accomplished.

What Gmail has done here is in many cases the equivalent of having an unsubscribe link at the top of your email. The numbers will show this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

So why do I think this is a positive for email marketers? You’re always going to lose subscribers. How you lose them is incredibly important. And, as I said, you want them to unsubscribe.

So, why not make it easy on your departing subscribers now and better for your email marketing program down the road?

Gmail seems to be helping in that capacity.

Just one email marketer’s opinion…

Coding Pixel Perfect Emails [Part 5 – More Responsive Tips]

Posted by on 1:03 pm in Blog, Email Coding | 0 comments

Wrapping up this series on coding emails, we’ll look at some final layout commands along with other handy code snippets and tools.

Column Shifting Layouts

Two column layouts can work great for a wide desktop display, but when viewing on a small mobile device, converting it to a 1 column stacked design can greatly improve visibility.


2 column layout to 1 column stacked.

Generally a 2 column layout will actually be 3, one of them being a middle spacing column that gets hidden in mobile view:
Add this in the middle column: class="hide"
And this in the header:
@media only screen and (max-width: 480px) {
table[class="hide"], img[class="hide"], td[class="hide"] {display:none !important;}


2 column layouts actually have 3 column, one acting as the gutter.

In columns 1 and 3 add this: class="blockcol”
With this in the header:
@media only screen and (max-width: 480px) {
td[class="blockcol"] {display: block;}

With these lines of code we force the individual cells to stack when the screen is smaller than 480px. It may be useful to set the width of the newly stacked columns so they are all uniform (300px is a good baseline).

Big Fat Buttons

Similarly, smallish buttons can work well in desktop environments with a mouse to do the clicking, but when it comes to small screens and clumsy fingers a larger button is usually better. Normally in a HTML button, only the text is clickable, wit hthis mobile button the entire button is clickable.

Put this in the header:

.cta {
-webkit-border-radius: 6px;
-moz-border-radius: 6px;
border-radius: 6px;

.ctatext, .ctatext a:link, .ctatext a:visited {
font-family:Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;

@media only screen and (max-width: 480px) {
table[class=cta] a {display:block !important; padding:20px !important;}
td[class="cta"], table[class="cta"] {width:300px !important; font-size:22px !important; padding:0px !important;}
td[class="ctatext"] a {font-size:30px !important;}

And this is what the actual button code would look like:

<table class="cta" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0">
<td class="ctatext" align="center"><a href="#">click here »</a></td>


This button got from being small and respectable in a desktop view to large and much easier to see and tap.

Other Coding Resources:

The great folks at Litmus always have wonderful newsletters and great coding tips as well, their blog is a great resource.

The Mailchimp email template reference site is another great resource for tips and tricks in email coding, it is also very well organized to boot.  also check out their ever handy css inlining tool.

Email on Acid has another excellent blog, in particular they like to get into nitty gritty details on individual email client bugs (Lotus notes, I’m looking at you).

Campaign Monitor, I don’t think enough could be said about the great email coding resource that is the campaign monitor site along with their other tools they provide to the email community for free.  also see their background image tool.

Adventures in Holiday Email Marketing

Posted by on 8:30 am in Blog, Email Marketing | 0 comments

Adventures in Holiday Email Marketing

It’s no secret that retailers ramp up their email marketing volume come the holiday season. They would be fools not to milk that “special” time of year for all it’s worth.

There was one retailer in particular—for me, at least—that took the holiday season as a cue to unleash the hounds onto my inbox. That retailer is Brookstone.

I’ve always been a fan of Brookstone—mostly for the massage chairs and the free lounging time they used to heartily encourage back in my youth (when malls were a thing and cells phones only existed in Mercedes). I’ve even purchased a couple of products—in-store, not online. As a result of my fandom, I’ve been on their email marketing list for at least a couple of years now.

I had a feeling that the onslaught was coming when in November, the email marketing volume went from a few per week to once a day. Then, as we approached Thanksgiving, it happened:

I received 111 emails between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve.

Over those 27 days, that averages out to a little over 4 emails per day.

At first glance, that seems excessive. On the other hand, there is some logic to mailing multiple times a day.

Multiple touches keep you front and center during a time when the inbox is literally overflowing with offers from retailers everywhere. And, if your spam and unsubscribe rates stay low (or spike to an “acceptable” level given your strategy) and your open and click rates warrant it, why not? CPM is low enough that the law of diminishing returns may not affect you.

With no data to look at to determine success*, I can only make assumptions about how Brookstone’s holiday approach performed. Here are three assumptions I can make:

Assumption: They tested subject lines a lot.

I received a lot of repeat subject lines (or subject line with minor modifications). For example:

  • “$15 off $49” (with some variation thereafter): 10 times
  • “$20 off $99” (with some variation thereafter): 26 times
  • “Still Shipping for Christmas” (with some variation thereafter): 7 times

What does that mean? Those subject lines were working, and they kept testing against it. I was probably in either the A group or the “winning” group.

Assumption: Spam complaints and unsubscribe rates were within “acceptable” limits.

Why can I assume this? Email volume increased after Thanksgiving from 3 emails per day to 5 emails per day. Then the volume continued throughout the entire holiday season.

Which leads me to my final assumption:

Assumption: The campaign was a success.

This assumption is admittedly the hardest to make without seeing the data for myself. There are, however, two explanations I can think of as to why the volume would ramp up and continue for the entire holiday season:

  1. The campaign worked. The increased volume led to increased sales that more than covered the burdens of the cost-benefit analysis; Or
  2. Brookstone was simply desperate.

I’m inclined to believe that the campaign worked and Brookstone’s email team rode their testing and aggressive strategy to hitting their holiday goals.

So, what do we learn from this?

Here are my takeaways:

  • Risks are worth being taken, particularly during the holidays when subscribers are expecting to be bombarded anyway.
  • With diligence, constant testing, and fortitude, an aggressive, volume-oriented strategy can be very successful in email marketing. (There is something to be said for Dela Quist’s approach.)
  • Naturally, with any uptick in volume, make sure your emails have something to say that’s relevant to the subscribers you’re mailing to.

* I have reached out to the email team at Brookstone to see if I can get any data or anecdotal information on their holiday season success. Brookstone is not a client of ours, but I will update this blog post or post new information if I get anything in return.

Holiday Email Marketing Planning: Hanukkah Comes Early This Year

Posted by on 11:23 am in Blog, Email Marketing | 0 comments

Holiday Email Marketing Planning: Hanukkah Comes Early This Year

Did you know, as our friends at MarketWatch have reminded us, that there will be two holiday shopping seasons this year? Bust out your calendars and your pens (err, thumbs or styli or what have you) for this:

Hanukkah begins the night before Thanksgiving this year.

So, how does that affect your email marketing plans for the holiday season?

Yes, Hanukkah is eight days long, so it will stretch INTO the traditionally busiest shopping weekend of the year (right after Thanksgiving). But, I can tell you that Hanukkah gifts, just like for Christmas, are purchased BEFORE the holiday begins.

So, I ask again, how does that affect your email marketing plans for the holiday season?

Do you start earlier? Or are you already planning to start emailing your subscribers like crazy at the beginning of November (to mimic the trend I’ve seen with TV commercials)?

All in all, this is just a friendly reminder. But I do have some quick thoughts/ideas for you as well:

1. Don’t forget about Hanukkah starting right before Thanksgiving. Plan accordingly with your November marketing schedule.

2. Consider employing two “Black Friday” cycles into your planning. Maybe build up to an early November “Black Friday” season for Hanukkah shoppers (well, really any shoppers—two sales are always better than one this time of year).

3. Incorporate “Last-Minute” Hanukkah deals into your traditional Black Friday/Cyber Monday cycle. Remember, Hanukkah lasts for eight days, and will overlap with this traditionally crazy time of year.

Enjoy your two holiday shopping seasons, everyone!

Coding Pixel Perfect Emails [Part 4 – Responsive Emails]

Posted by on 11:12 pm in Blog, Email Coding | 0 comments

Coding Pixel Perfect Emails [Part 4 – Responsive Emails]

By now I don’t need to tell you about the pervasiveness of smart phones, or how differently users interact with them verses desktop computers.

So I won’t.

Most mobile email clients will scale a static email to fit the viewer (everything’s tiny) or crop the email (scroll-ville). To get optimal results we need to have our email respond to the device it’s being viewed on.

There are a number of ways to do this, we’ll quickly look at how to properly code a simple responsive template with a single break point. (more…)

Abandon Shopping Cart Email Marketing Whitepaper

Posted by on 3:19 pm in Blog, Email Marketing, Email Marketing Whitepapers | 0 comments

Abandon Shopping Cart Email Marketing Whitepaper

Save Your Shopping Carts with Email

The perennial problem: Cart Abandonment.

Site visitors who place items in their shopping cart, only to never complete the purchase. The items sit there, tantalizingly close to a sale–but they don’t sell. In fact, it’s not rare for cart abandonment rates to reach 80% or more.

Considerable effort goes into website and cart optimization to reduce abandonment, but two problems limit this approach:

1) People’s failure to complete a purchase often has nothing to do with website factors.

2) Website optimization cannot react to an abandonment after the event: once they leave the website, they’re gone.


Are You Losing 50% of Your Email Revenue by Not Personalizing?

Posted by on 4:01 pm in Email Marketing | 0 comments

Are You Losing 50% of Your Email Revenue by Not Personalizing?

This week I ran a simple A/B test of subject line personalization. I used the same subject line for both emails, except I included the first name at the beginning of the subject line for 50% of the recipients. As expected the open rate was higher for the personalized subject line. There were 10% more opens for the email with personalization. The bump in opens is often the reason people personalize subject lines.

There was also a bump in clicks. Of course since there were more opens there should be more clicks, but the increase in clicks went beyond the 10% subject line jump. There were 18% more clicks from the personalized subject line. It appears as if the personalization snowballed over to the clicks.

The results continued to snowball as I looked at the revenue. There was a jump in average revenue per conversion of 40% on the personalized subject line, which calculated to $168 more spent per person. Finally, the increase in total revenue came out to 102% more for the personalized subject line. That’s a huge increase in revenue for something that is only one word different.

I routinely see subject line A/B tests lead to huge conversion differences. It’s always interesting to watch a subject lines affect all the way down the line. It is not abnormal for them to snowball down to higher conversion rates. Including something as simple as a first name is an easy optimization that everyone should test.