Copywriting, design, animation, interactions and more. Read on to discover the five ingredients and tricks that we brought back from Litmus Live, the favorite conference of email geeks, which will spice up your email program.
With its 1,000 focused audience members, the year’s best panel of email marketing speakers and 15 meticulously prepared seminars, Litmus Live London was THE conference of the year. At least for email research brainiacs, who always leave with a whole bevy of recipes to test out over the next 12 months.
Does this seem a little overly copious, this concentration of feedback, innovations to try out and good practices to share? Never fear! We have sorted through them for you, searching through each specialty (copywriting, design, development, etc.) for that little nugget that will give your campaigns a whole new flavor.
Does it sound like we traveled to England for culinary suggestions? You bet we did!
1. Copywriting: Spice up your texts with a dollop of psychology
The chef: Jonathan Pay of Holistic Email, one of Britain’s leaders in email marketing consulting.
On the menu: With “Using Psychology to Create High-Performance Emails,” Jonathan Pay takes a look at psychology as a basic tool for any good email marketer. Understanding your audience’s (or rather, your audiences’) motivations and personalities, and making good use of motivational leverage and other cognitive biases can help you send emails that are more persuasive. And better “converters.”
The takeaway: A whole bunch of little tips for making your emails spicier and more appetizing.
The first? Banish marketing lingo and talk like your clients, answering their questions just the way they would ask them.
The second? Bear in mind that multiple profiles and motivations exist within your customer database. From spontaneous types who are sensitive to promotional offers to the methodical customer, who needs to know how your service works… This does not means that Jonathan Pay recommends designing as many different emails as you have profiles (even though, with an effective email builder, that would be easy enough to do…). Instead, he says you should rely on this insight to “cover” the majority of their motivations and aversions.
Banish marketing lingo and answer questions in their language
The last point, derived from the first two: Spend time on your CTAs. We can never say it enough. The text on your buttons should:
- say what will happen after clicking on them
- echo the preceding copy and provide a sort of response to your recipients’ latent needs.
In short? Avoid using a mundane “Click here” and get more specific: “Choose my size,” “See the latest deals,” “Discover the collection,” etc.
2. International: Adapt to your recipients’ palates
The chefs: Uber’s EMEA CRM Marketing Managers Aiste Juknaite and Chevawn Blum, who have the difficult task of managing the company’s relationship program (including its emails) in dozens of different countries.
On the menu: “Lost in Translation: Crafting Emails in 15 Different Languages.” This is quite a project… and an issue that will speak to many an e-merchant and retailer, for whom international expansion has become a crucial matter.
Translating (well) is only the first step toward a real international email program
Because “simply” translating one language to another is just a small part of the solution. Even an email in American English needs to be written differently for its British version. The eternal – and farcical – debate on the pillow/cushion offered by Litmus is a terrific example of this.
— Beyond the Envelope™ (@Paul_Airy) 20 août 2018
The takeaway: More than “translation,” our two speakers from Uber talked about “adaptation.” They offered a short checklist for those who want to roll out their email marketing in multiple countries:
- make sure you have good local translators, who speak the language and are able to prevent any cultural misinterpretations
- anticipate the inevitable changes that a translation will cause in terms of text size and, therefore, the layout (“Acheter” in French has twice as many characters as “Buy”…)
- adapt your images, colors and, essentially, anything that could have different symbolism, according to local habits and the reality in the field
- contextualize your messages, based on service availability, the local calendar, the weather, and so on, to ensure you remain relevant (and not misleading)
- finally, from a strictly technical point of view, consider hosting your content on a CDN, once and for all: regardless of their country, all users appreciate emails that load quickly…
3. UX/Design: Prepare your ingredients in advance, so you’ll be ready when things start heating up
The chef: Fabio Carneiro, a UX designer who specializes in email and a regular at Litmus Live.
On the menu: At Booking.com, Fabio Carneiro has reviewed countless emails (well, around 100), with dozens of variations by language and country, all of which in line with the brand’s guidelines.
How did he do this? Thanks to what he calls a “design system,” a library of basic building blocks that can be assembled to create different emails.
The takeaway: Does this method remind you of anything? It is the concept of “atomic design,” no more, no less, which we wrote about in our report on the Flupa UX Days.
But it’s also the operating principle of Dartagnan, in which the elements that you use (the modules) are designed in accordance with your graphic charter.
“Charting” everything from the smallest building blocks to the most complete modules means undeniable savings in time
In other words, all of the advantages of a template (speedy execution and “fixed” creative base, ensuring coherence from one email to the next), without any of its disadvantages (rigidity, few possibilities for adaptation, a sense of rehashing the same old thing, etc.).
If you do not use our email builder but want to apply the same principle, here are some keys for you:
- start by designing the simplest elements (buttons, text boxes, footer, etc.), to speed up production
- prepare variations that align with your graphic charter, so they will be ready to use (for example, by designing your buttons in four different colors)
- then, assemble those basic “atoms” into “molecules” (such as a combination of title + product visual + description + price + CTA)
- fully document and explain the main design principles that led to the creation of your modules.
The promise? By reducing the complexity (and preserving the teams from having to reinvent the wheel for each campaign), you can start saving time immediately. And, through a ricochet effect, non-email-experts can then design 90% of campaigns on their own. Just think of all of the resources you will save, so they can design other campaigns, innovate, work on segmentation, and so on.
4. Analytics: Use metrics to see if your interactive emails are to the taste of your recipients
The chef: Cyrill Gross, a partner at the Swiss marketing agency, Mayoris.
On the menu: Interactive (or innovative) emails, one of the major trends in the business. In theory, the ability to offer micro-interactions and more engaging content (like video), directly in a recipient’s inbox can improve responsiveness, impact and the user experience, as a whole.
How do you measure what is happening within the email?
There is a hitch, though: all of these benefits are very tricky to measure. So, how do you know what your ROI is on an interactive email? With “Tracking Interactive Email for Better Performance,” Cyrill Gross shared invaluable techniques for answering that question…
The takeaway: Most routers and ESPs are incapable of automatically tracking interactive emails. And the usual KPIs (open rate, clicks, etc.) in no way measure the interactions that happen within the email.
And so emerged the idea of measuring those interactions by:
- putting your hands in the code (HTML and CSS) to set up trackers
- systematically designing a fallback (mirror link) to offer the interactive experience to recipients who don’t have access to it in their messaging system.
In addition to these foundations, the presentation raised two important points for any email marketer to consider. Firstly, interactive emails (even more so than “classic” emails) force you to ask the right questions about what you want to measure. Secondly, the technical skill sets that are expected of email professionals will expand along with interactive email. To take full advantage of the possibilities afforded by these innovative emails, mastery of a server language (PHP, Node.js, JSP, ASP, etc.) will become a real plus.
5. Animation: What if you tried using a different “garnish” than a GIF?
The chef: Kristian Robinson, email specialist for the London-based digital marketing agency, CACI.
On the menu: Animation + email = GIF? Most of the time, yes. Technically speaking, it is the simplest solution (and the best supported by the different webmail and email clients and environments on the market). But there are others, so long as you know a little CSS.
The takeaway: As with the previous presentation, the speaker cooked up some fabulous email dishes for us. It was very technical or, to put it different, reserved for the finest palates. In short, it was a real talk for email geeks!
If you follow Kristian Robinson’s method, you will get animation of a higher quality (in terms of definition, fluidity, etc.) than with a GIF. And you can even add a touch of interaction.
CSS animation: Smoother and higher-quality, but not without its faults
A dual bonus? Well, yes, except that the method is not without its faults. First of all, it is fairly complex. Next, it takes up a lot of space (in terms of bytes). And finally, because a fallback is required, given that this animation is not supported in every configuration. And that fallback tends to be… a GIF.
This wraps up our overview of the conferences that we found to be the most instructive. Not to mention, the most applicable to the busy day-to-day of a CRM or marketing program manager. Now, it’s your turn: which of these recipes will you follow? Have you successfully tried one of them before? We eagerly await your comments… with great appetite.