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Enterprise Marketing & Promotions Management

Are Your Digital Brand Standards Affecting Your Email Performance?

By / September 2016


Retailers rely on email. So it’s time to face it. Is your email design a de-facto outcome of your website digital brand standards, was it created by default, or worse, developed in complete isolation?

With so much of your sales and revenue riding on email, it’s time to evaluate and invest the time and resources to create a specific set of email design “rules” that will increase conversion and loyalty, while evolving your overall brand experience.

The push for email campaign performance is significant for retail marketers today, with an even greater emphasis on audience engagement and brand immersion. It’s a priority for retail marketers to question everything and become a catalyst for maturing and innovating email communications to yield greater success.

No different than the best practices employed for direct mail or your website, email deserves the same attention.

Assuming that your digital marketing team has employed the best practices for email, it’s important to focus on the brand elements that have been adopted or established from other sources for testing.

Four elements that you might need to reevaluate and test for further email optimization.

1. Button styling – One of the dominant design trends is “Ghost” buttons for web – that also can be called “naked,” “empty” or “hollow,” which represents a basic shape with a transparent background delineated with the help of a very thin solid border. This trend can achieve quite the opposite effect within an email environment. The button plays a crucial role for a busy user and needs to appear prominently on the webpage. Here are quick points to consider:

  • Buttons should clearly appear as buttons
  • Establish types of buttons with color to guide users to action
  • Label buttons so users know what to expect
  • Size, scale and proportion buttons for users to interact with buttons

2.Images vs. mostly-text – 65% of readers prefer emails that contain mostly images vs. 35% who prefer mostly text, according to HubSpot, inbound marketing agency. Keep in mind most email clients block images from first-time senders by default, so your subscribers will almost always see the print content of your email before anything else. If retail marketers optimized their emails for image blocking, ROI would increase 9+%, based on research from Convince and Convert, digital marketing consultants.

3.Responsive email templates over fluid hybrid design – techniques such as responsive or hybrid email play an important role in optimizing emails for mobile devices, but it’s important to think creatively about how subscribers interact with your email. You can make your email more mobile-friendly by:

  • Being as concise as possible
  • Using a single, clear call-to-action, ideally with a bulletproof button
  • Utilizing white space to give your text some breathing room
  • Using a minimum font size of 13 pixels
  • Designing in a single-column format

Some 19.9% of respondents use both responsive templates and fluid hybrid design, according to eMarketer. Why is this important? Mobile opens dropped for the first time since January, down to 54% since last month’s growth to 56%. Though this represents a small dip, mobile opens have remained above 50% since August of 2015 and are unlikely to drop below that mark anytime soon. However, optimizing email for mobile remains important. It is still where the majority of subscribers turn to read their emails. (Litmus)

4.Cross-platform safe fonts – there are some limitations with HTML email, which includes the font selection. A really small number of email clients support the use of web fonts provided through services like Google Web Fonts or Fontdeck, so be cautious when prescribing a web font.

Wrap up

Branding should be integrated, but the integration across all channels has different considerations and disciplines that need to be examined. Reenergize your email program with the same dedication as your other marketing channels and you might be surprised by the results.

Dale Mumma, Brand Strategy and Chief Creative Officer dalem@thecarbonagency.com Dale’s 20+ years of experience delivers comprehensive integrated marketing and creative services from traditional branding, identity, and packaging to innovative, data-driven business-to-business and consumer acquisition, retention, and loyalty programs.  Dale has worked with an outstanding list of Fortune 500 clients that span the retail, telecommunications, banking, financial services, and insurance sectors. Dale is devoted to developing strong, collaborative relationships with clients. He digs deep to understand their corporate goals, strategic vision and unique brand propositions and delivering award-winning work for such brands as ACE Hardware, Capitol One, Doane Pet Care, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Driveline Retail Merchandising, DSW, Essilor, Humana, Lowes, Parker, People’s Trust Insurance, Sally Beauty, Time Warner Cable, TXU Energy, Time Warner Cable, Westport, and XL Hybrids.

The Carbon Agency, @CarbonDFW, thecarbonagency.com Carbon brings deep experience to deliver big results. Our senior marketing and strategic creative talent deliver the best of both traditional and interactive worlds, including global agency and senior client-side direct marketing expertise. We apply knowledge, creative, and best practices to develop brand and messaging strategy, public relations and content marketing. We combine our experience in conventional disciplines, such as market research, strategic planning, brand development, positioning and messaging to provide online and on page advertising, collateral, direct marketing, email, mobile, product introductions, trade shows, video and web.



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