Weekly Blog Roundup – August 26, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.

Email Marketing

5 Things That Have Changed Since the FixOutlook Project” – Litmus

With the awesome news out of #LitmusLive a couple weeks ago, some email marketers are reticient to celebrate. Those marketers point to previous efforts to repair the horrible rendering in Outlook, such as the FixOutlook.org Project. Chad White from Litmus goes through a few of those concerns and how the environment (and Microsoft) has changed since 2009.

Lessons learned from Airbnb’s Email Specialist” – Really Good Emails

A look at Airbnb and their email marketing. In the vein of Ways We Work (one of my fave sites) and a great read.

Why Email Marketing Beats Social Media in Lead Generation, and What You Can Do About It” – StrongSocial

I had a conversation with a co-worker earlier this week about her Google AdWords test campaign to get more blog subscribers. In a two week trial, she’s quadrupled her blog audience and tripled her email subscribers! Email is incredible for reaching your audience, provided you do it right.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Email CTA Buttons” – Really Good Emails

I passed this article around work this week for the insight provided. It’s amazing how many CTA buttons still say “click here” or “learn more.” Try something new!

Marketing

How to Measure Brand Awareness” – Hubspot and Distilled

Researching “brand awareness” for work, and came across this wonderful video from Adria Saracino from Distilled. Adria walks you through the steps to figure out your brand awareness goals and how to measure those goals. I’ve already set up an Excel Spreadsheet based on the information from this video and measuring some of those important metrics!

Why GIFs are better than video

I check my personal email frequently throughout the day. Yes, big admission, I know. Not really. Most of the time I do this, however, is through the Mailbox app on my iPhone. Why do I feel it’s okay to do this? Because I just swipe-delay my messages until that evening. It cleans up my Inbox and brings back all the important messages that evening when I have more time to go through the messages.

But all that info is definitely not why you’re reading this. It’s to know why an almost 20-year-old feature of the web — the .gif — is better than video, in my mind, in one particular case. *Note: there are probably many reasons why the .gif is better than video for many cases. I believe this is just one such case that came to mind and I was non-sober enough to write about.

Used poorly, the .gif reminds many of the days of GeoCities:

But used correctly, GIFs can look like this:

This was in an email I got from The White House, and the .gif grabbed my attention more than anything else in the email.

If this was communicated through video, here’s what I would need to do to get the info.

  1. Click the thumbnail in the email.
  2. Browser opens if not open already.
  3. New window/tab loads in browser.
  4. Click video to play.
  5. Wait 30 seconds for ad or loading.
  6. Video plays.
  7. Finally get information I clicked on, almost 2 minutes after getting the email.

What do I need to do with the .gif? Open the email. It just works.
*Note: .gifs don’t work in every email client. Here’s a great chart from Campaign Monitor of who supports animated .gifs.

So, if you’re looking to use the versatile .gif in an upcoming email campaign, here’s what you should remember:

  1. Keep it concise and clear. The White House communicated one thing and one thing only through the above .gif.
  2. Keep file size smaller. Since this is loading when the email opens, a large .gif will take time to load.
  3. Know your audience. Use the above chart and your email analytics to make sure that your audience will be able to see your crazy, awesome, .gif magic.
  4. And remember, don’t blind your reader with flashing neon, construction signs, or dancing babies.

Weekly Blog Roundup – August 19, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.

Email Marketing

Litmus and Microsoft Partner to Make Email Better” – Litmus

“…And on the 8th day, God created this partnership.” Amazing news out of The Email Design Conference hosted by email testing company Litmus. Litmus and Microsoft are partnering to make Outlook better for email marketers. You can get a lot more info on the link above, but the gist of the partnership is that we (the email marketers, #emailgeeks) will be able to submit rendering issues to Litmus. Litmus will compile these issues and work with the Outlook team at Microsoft. Amazing.

Four ways the Microsoft-Litmus partnership may shake up B2B email marketing” – The Marketing Practice

Good future-thought on how the aforementioned partnership could change email marketing.

Email deliverability is on the decline: report” – ClickZ

I’ve been on a deliverability kick lately and this article brings more of that info to the forefront.

Campaign Monitor Introduces Marketing Automation for Everyone” – Campaign Monitor

Pretty cool introduction from Campaign Monitor. While probably not as big as the Litmus – Microsoft partnership, this is a huge announcement for SMB who can’t afford enterprise-level marketing automation.

If you’re looking for marketing automation for your small business, you might want to see what Campaign Monitor is up to these days.

Email design at its best at TEDC16” – Nicki Graham

A wonderful follow-up and write-up from Nicki, who attended The Email Design Conference this past week. Nicki goes through some of the presentations/talks at TEDC16 and shares her thoughts on the conference overall.

Weekly Blog Roundup – August 12, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.

Email Marketing

Lessons Learned After The First 12 Months as an Email Marketer” – Only Influencers

An interesting post from a new email marketer. While I agree with most, I do heartedly disagree with Joy’s idea that there’s nothing new in email marketing. Especially when there’s so much new information and happenings on the same site hosting her own post, Only Influencers. However, I will say that early in my email marketing career, I had a similar perspective. It would be interesting for me to put down my thoughts and experiences in email marketing in a new post.

What the Clinton and Trump Campaigns teach us about deliverability” – Only Influencers

A post about marketing and the presidential campaign that isn’t actually clickbait! Bravo!

While every marketer needs to be concerned and focused on their deliverability, this post dives deep into the nuances of deliverability and its place in the current presidential race. Definitely gets in the weeds a bit, but if deliverability is your scene, this is a post for you!

Email for President” – Return Path

The basis of the aforementioned Only Influencers post, Return Path looked at major deliverability statistics of the email campaigns of both presidential candidates.

Blogging

A 2-Week Publishing Hiatus to Make Our Blog Better (We Need Your Help!)” – Unbounce

We all need breaks every now and then to refresh the creative juices. Unbounce is doing just that — but not just to sit around and slack, but with the goal to make their blog better. Good read.

Lessons Learned After The First 5 Years as an Email Marketer

This post is a tongue-in-cheek response to a post by Joy Ugi over at Only Influencers about her first 12 months as an email marketer. 

It’s your fifth year as an email marketer.

Then you blink and a whole decade has flown by. It happened to me, and I bet it already happened to you. After five years of email marketing, you haven’t learned everything there is to know, but you damn well feel like you know everything.

But then you still get those rude awakenings when you feel a disturbance in the email marketing Force.

Learn. Do Something With What You Learn.

It’s easy to read what other email marketers are doing. I do it every day. I have a weekly blog roundup listing those same articles and posts I read. We go to conferences and attend webinars where we learn to be a better email marketer.

But all of that is for naught if we don’t do something with that knowledge. This is the biggest thing I’ve learned over the last five years in marketing, specifically as an email marketer.

It’s easy to see the new Engagement Studio from Pardot, get some best practices, some example drip campaigns, and go to your team saying, “Look at this great new addition to Pardot!” But what separates you as a “veteran” of email marketing is your ability to do something with that knowledge, something to make your marketing efforts and campaigns better.

Be Humble. Educate.

It seems as though the egos of those in Marketing are only second in size to the egos of those in Sales. It’s easy for us in email marketing to feel that we “know better” than most, because outside of marketing, most people still think of email marketing as spam. It’s easy for us to look down upon those who “don’t know better.”

Why educate someone who wants to buy a list and blast out the latest sales promotion?

You- the email marketer – educate them because it makes the entire organization better. You are only as strong as your weakest point, and if the stakeholders in your organization continue to believe email marketing stands alone and is meant for blast emails, well, you’re not doing your job. Period.

So you need to be humble and educate those around you. Teach them the same values you hold dear about clean email design, responsive and mobile-first principles, connecting email with marketing automation and your CRM. All of these take you, your colleagues, and your organization to the next level.

Be More.

Many organizations, mine included, don’t have the luxury of having one staff or employee focusing solely on email marketing, let alone having multiple staff focusing on email marketing. Here where I live and work in Cedar Rapids, I know a few email marketers from GoDaddy. They’ve presented to local marketers a few times about email marketing best practices. Now, they have the luxury many of us don’t: dedicated designers and dedicated writers. Awesome!

Most of us don’t have that.

And so we need to do more. Show value and bring value in other ways. For you, is that marketing automation? Analytics? Digital Campaigns? Social? Take the strengths you’ve developed working in email marketing and transfer them to another interest, find ways to bring value to your organization with your strengths.

It’s A Journey.

When I took my current job almost five years ago, I would be hard pressed to imagine where I am now. I code in my sleep. I know Pardot menus in my dreams. I know what Custom Fields are linked from Salesforce, and what Custom Objects we can only report on in Salesforce.

It’s been an incredible journey. And it’s not over, yet. Just keep swimming.

Weekly Blog Roundup – August 5, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.

Email Marketing

What’s your email marketing plan?” – MailChimp

Good post on the basics of setting up a plan for your email marketing.

5 remarkably effective email personalization tactics” – Emma

Starts off with a great analogy that everyone will understand, and gets better from there. Emma hits it out of the park with this post.

Six Email Habits That Are Alienating Your Customers” – MarketingProfs

Amazing how many people and companies still do some of these habits. Got to have buy-in from leadership to push best practices forward. Not everyone has that luxury.

The Email Marketing Playlist” – Litmus via Spotify

Ha! What a fun way to start the weekend! Been listening to this while putting my last two posts together! Perfect! “Jump in the Line” is great for post writing!

Monochrome MailChimp: A New Favorite

I’ve written about Unroll.me before many times. It’s probably my favorite item in my inbox every day. And it’s the worst item in my inbox every day as well. (What’s even worse is when their servers go down, but that’s extremely infrequent.)

The reason Unroll.me is my favorite/worst item in my inbox is because it collects all of the crap that I don’t want to read every day. It’s the crap that I’ve signed up for because, at some point, I wanted that spammy newsletter or shopping email.

(P.S. If the NSA or CIA or Kremlin is reading this, put spam like this in front of me, tell me that I have to redesign the emails to good design, and I’ll tell you anything.)

In the midst of all of that, a nice little email caught my eye today, and the sender definitely knows a little something about email.

monochrome-mailchimp-no-images
This is the email that caught my eye, and without images as well!

Yes, MailChimp is a modern marvel with email design, but I had to write about this email. This. This is not something we, even as email designers, see every day. This is pushing the envelope, in a very good way.

One of the things I love about the design, is that it’s not completely black-and-white. The beige/creme header stands out against the black/grey motif of the lower half and gives the reader some breathing room to focus on the header – “A few of our favorites.”

And while I didn’t open the email on mobile until I was writing this blog post, the design is definitely mobile-friendly.

The same email, with images.
The same email, with images.
The mobile version, as shown by Litmus Scope.
The mobile version, as shown by Litmus Scope.

Stranger Things

Now, I thought to myself, this is a pretty cool email, right? So, I’m in Litmus Scope — which, by the way, if you’re not using, you need to — and I check the text version of the email.

The very long text version of the Awesome Monochrome MailChimp Email.
The very long text version of the Awesome Monochrome MailChimp Email.

At first glance, I think, “Oh, they expanded the text snippets of the articles for each of their links.” And then I read closer, and realize something else: This is marketing about MailChimp!

Snippet of the text version.
Snippet of the text version.

The text-version of the email had nothing to do with the actual email. It was marketing.

Now, I would absolutely love to hear the conversations that not only came up with this idea, but pushed it forward. (Author’s Note: I don’t receive many emails from MailChimp, so this could be something they do on regular basis, but I also know that not everyone reads the text version of emails.)

Now, I’ve loaded this email into Litmus Scope, so you can take a look at it in all it’s glory.

A lot to think about

A main reason why I wanted to share this email and my thoughts on the email was that it really got my wheels turning. It’s so unusual! It’s minimalist, but still full. It’s monochrome, but still colorful in a way. It functions across all platforms. And then there’s the text version!

10/10 Mailchimp. Bravo.

 

Redux: What is Email Marketing Really For?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how difficult email marketing can be, and not just for those who do it every day. No, I’m thinking about those marketers who are diving into email marketing for the first time, need to “get it done,” and move on to the next item. Specifically, I’m thinking this in response to the recent Medium post by the women at Clover, and another response by Dan Oshinsky from BuzzFeed as posted on Campaign Monitor.

I’ve written before about the unending need to make the email creation process better. But, these two posts mentioned above have me thinking this issue goes beyond a simple UX refresh or overhaul.

What is the issue?

From my perspective, there seems to be two camps of people in email marketing.

One camp knows how to code, knows about deliverability, and know about design, among many other skills. This camp lives and breathes email marketing every day.

The other camp uses email marketing as a tool in their marketing toolbox. They don’t only do email marketing, but everything else as well. From websites to emails, to print materials or event planning, these marketers don’t necessarily have the time or skill set to do a deep dive into email marketing for every sent email.

I think a majority of marketers fall into the second camp, but only because I believe having a human resource dedicated solely to email marketing is a luxury that few can enjoy.

Why is it important to recognize the two differing camps?

I think it’s important for us to realize the inherent differences in these two camps because their respective needs can be incredibly disparate from each other.

The “Every Day” camp.

From my perspective, the needs of the Every Day camp are the needs of any professional who becomes an expert in their field. The tools get more specialized, and tasks that would take others many hours to finish requires minimal time of this expert. If I look at tools like Dreamweaver, Litmus Builder, and others, these are the specialized tools used by the Every Day camp. Someone from the Many Hats camp would not be using these tools on a daily or regular basis.

The “Many Hats” camp.

The people in the Many Hats camp have to cover a wide range of skills and required tasks in their day-to-day work. Email marketing can be just one more item on their checklist to get done; sending out the latest donor newsletter or update. Email is not the sole focus of this camp. The Many Hats camp requires tools that allow them to get the job done quickly, painlessly, and with a quick or short learning curve – anyone can pick it up if need be. Tools like Constant Contact is probably the prototype of this type of tool.

Why does this even matter?

I believe this matters because the article written by Clover is an article written by members of the Many Hats club, and the main people responding are members of the Every Day camp. The ladies from Clover want a solution to their issue in the short term, and maybe then, they’ll be able or ready to discuss longer term options like retooling their template. I don’t believe we in the Every Day camp did much to help Clover by posting articles about “What is Email Marketing?”

Articles like those written by Dan Oshinsky are for those in the Every Day camp, and it’s important not only for us to realize that an article like that is written for that purpose, but why we have two different camps in the first place.

These Two Camps are NOT Definitive.

email-marketing-everyday-manyhats

There are of course going to be people from both camps who switch over because of a change in roles at work. That’s to be expected. What we, as email marketers, need to realize is what audience we are writing for when composing our missives. So for every #emailgeek that reads your blog, there might be a marketer who uses Constant Contact once a week. Make sure you know who you’re writing for.

Weekly Blog Roundup – July 22, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.

Email Marketing

5 Quick Tips for Segmenting Your Email List” – Emma

According to eMarketer, 39% of email marketers that practice list segmentation see better open rates, 28% see lower opt-out and unsubscribe rates, and 24% see better email deliverability, increased sales leads, and greater revenue.

Good tips from our friends at Emma.

Introducing the Form Style Generator for Pardot Forms” – Jenna Molby

Can’t heap enough praise on Ms. Molby for this creation. Great tool for getting those pixel-perfect forms that work with your instance of Salesforce Pardot. Great job, Jenna!

Email Marketing Is a Double Win for Customer Acquisition, Retention” – eMarketer

According to the data, 81% and 80% of respondents, respectively, said email marketing drives customer acquisition and retention.

More evidence that email cannot and will not die, even if we wanted it to.

Marketing

7 Things to Know When Marketing to Millennials” – Media Junction

Insight and sass. Perfect for Millennials. *cough* I mean 20-30 year-olds. If you’re already a young person, this is old hat to you. But if you’re a “more seasoned” marketer, you may be wondering how to reach the YouTube/Twitter/Instagram crowd. Good insight on how to approach Millennials in marketing.

Facebook Live Is About To Feel More Like TV” – FastCoDesign

You’ve seen Facebook Celebrities use it. You’ve heard or seen about the Philando Castile shooting that was recorded using it. And now Facebook Live is getting some changes to attract longer form content, and more branded content. Look out for more people – and brands – using Facebook Live in the future.

What is Blockchain and what is its impact on marketing?” – Mark Schaefer

One of two articles I read this week on Blockchain’s affect on Marketing. You’ve more than likely read about Bitcoin. Well, my ignorance aside, Blockchain is basically the foundation of Bitcoin; it’s what makes it work. Now folks, this is bleeding edge stuff here, so it’s not probably going to affect your marketing today. But keep your eyes on Blockchain going forward – the future is already here.

Video Editing

ScreenMagic Template” – I Am John Barker, Jeremy Wick

This is an amazing template, for After Effects and Apple Motion, that makes those videos where you’re recording laptop screens SO. MUCH. BETTER. Check it out if you do any type of screen recording demonstration videos.

Work

3 Reasons Why Baby Boomers Resent Millennials” – Inc.com

Could this speak any more to me? Spot on insight. I know that I’ve had conversations with Baby Boomers on this topic, specifically the idea of “sacrificing joy in exchange for well-paying work.” What a load of shit. Sorry. Not Sorry.

Pardot Pro Tip: Creating a Custom Landing Page Template

Pardot includes the built-in ability to create landing pages, pages where you direct prospects to download or signup for a product your company offers.

Here’s an example from Salesforce:

Salesforce Landing Page Example

We were looking to create a similar landing page, except it needed to match our company branding.

Here’s our homepage:

GreatAmerica Homepage Screenshot

And the page I based our template off:

Terms and Conditions Screenshot

With some research (I’ll link some resources at the bottom of the post) and some testing, I was able to create this landing page template:

GreatAmerica Landing Page Template

Here are the steps I took to create our landing page.

Step 1. Find your prototype page.

Find a page on your website that you would like the landing page to look like. I like to think of this as when you’re buying a house – look for a page that has good bones, one that has the header and/or footer you want, one that has the body that you want, etc. I chose our website’s “Terms and Conditions” page because it had the cleanest body to build from.

Action: Copy the URL of your prototype page.

Step 2. Create your layout.

Since we didn’t have an existing landing page template that I liked. I started with the page that had “good bones” and opened that code within Adobe Dreamweaver. In Dreamweaver, I got rid of the Navigation Bar present throughout our main website. I also cleaned up the body of the page so I could place more than text. Next I created two basic columns, one column for the featured or hero image, and the other column for the title, description, and form.

Here’s the code I used to create the two columns:

Step 3. Create the editable sections of your landing page.

This is probably one of the most important steps of the entire process. Without correctly following these steps, your template will not be editable to any person trying to use the template. Not good!

What I’m looking for in my template are four main sections: the featured image or hero image, the title, the description, and the form.

Editable Sections - Outline

Here’s the code to make the image editable:

Title:

Description:

 

Now, you may be wondering to yourself, “Why didn’t he use the built-in Pardot form instead of an iframe?” There’s a good answer! And, it took me a bit of trial and error to figure it out.

As you may or may not know, Pardot uses “Layout Templates” for both Forms and Landing Pages. So, if you’re in your “Layout Templates,” you’ll notice templates for your forms and landing pages alike.

The problem in the case of our landing page is that we’re trying to incorporate two different Layout Templates within the same page; the template for the form, and the template for the landing page. Pardot only recognizes the template for the “outer-most” asset, in this case the Landing Page.

The solution to this problem, i.e. using a different Layout Template for each the Landing Page and the Form. To create a template so that anyone can change the form, you need to create an editable section where you can paste the iFrame code. For that, you’ll need code similar to this:

Form:

Step 4. Create a new layout template in Pardot.

Pretty simple. Navigate to: Marketing > Landing Pages > Layout Template > Add Layout Template

Action: Create a new layout template in Pardot

Step 5. Import your Prototype Page

Pretty simple step here. Copy all of the HTML code from Dreamweaver, and paste into the HTML section of the Landing Page Layout Template.

Pardot Landing Page - Import HTML

 

Action: Paste HTML code into Pardot template.

Congratulations!

You’ve now created your template! Now, you probably want to create a new landing page from your template.

Step 6. Create a new Landing Page.

Navigate to: Marketing > Landing Pages > New Landing Page. Name your Landing Page, choose a folder, and then choose the relevant Campaign.

Pardot - New Landing Page

On the next step, you can click “No form.”

Pardot - Landing Page, No Form

Step 7. Choose your template.

On the “Content Layout” step, choose the template you just made.

Step 8. Edit your content.

Now you can change and insert the content you want on your final page! Change the image, title, and description to what you want.

We’ll do the form in the next step.

Step 9. Get the iFrame code for your Form.

In a separate tab or window, navigate to: Marketing > Forms > Forms. Click on the form you want.

Now, copy the iFrame code:

View HTML Code - Pardot Forms

Pardot Form iFrame Code

Step 10. Paste in your iFrame Form code.

Go back to your tab/window with your landing page. Click on the editable section for your form. At first, you won’t see anything. Click on the “Source” button in the top-right to reveal the HTML code for that particular section.

Paste in your iFrame code here. And now you’ll have a complete landing page!

GreatAmerica Landing Page Template

Resources

As I promised at the beginning, this post wouldn’t have been possible without the help and assistance of many people.

The first and most helpful resource overall was “How to Turn any Landing Page into a Pardot Layout Template” from Jenna Molby. Jenna’s post walks you through step-by-step in changing an existing landing page into one that works in Pardot. So, a very similar concept to my situation, but we didn’t have any existing templates.

Using Content Regions” from the Pardot Knowledge Base. This was helpful to figure out how to make the sections I wanted in my template to be editable. Without this, you’re just left with a page you can’t edit!

Pardot B2B Marketing Automation – Salesforce Success Community. A great, great resource for anyone looking to up their Pardot game. I did a search for some of the issues I was having, like the “form vs. landing page template” problem, and found the solution on here. If you’re not a member of this community, you need to join today!