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!

Yin and Yang and Email Marketing

There are two sides to this battle.

On one side, besieged customers under an onslaught of emails, social media, text messages, and video ads.

On the other side, marketers and executives in corporate high-towers crafting ever more insidious ways to get our message to infect the populous below.

The Man in the Middle

In this world of Customer versus Marketer, David versus Goliath, I, like many of you, teeter on the razor-thin edge between consumer and company. Like you, I allow myself weak moments of failure where I sign up for the newsletter, I “Like” the company Facebook page, and I text to win a contest at a conference.

And also like you, I myself am a Marketer. I sit in that glass enclave figuring out new ways of getting more information from my customer. I’m figuring out ways to get you to text to win, or “Like,” or give your email up for a newsletter in return.

How do we balance the responsibility of creating value at our companies with the responsibility to create valued customers?

Responsibility to Company.

As Marketers, we have a responsibility to our job and to our company. We are there to build awareness, push product, qualify leads, generate leads. Our tools, our marketing automation, our SMS platforms, our social listening, we use these tools to accomplish our given goals and to create value within our companies and our industries.

Responsibility to Community.

As members in our community (local, region, world), we have the responsibility to create a better world, to leave the world in a better place than when we came into the world. While esoteric for marketing, this idea of betterment is important to keeping customers pleased, instead of nonplussed.

How do we please our customers instead of annoying them?

 

Customers React.

The impetus for this post came from my daily use of the awesome email spam service Unroll.me. This one service reduced my daily influx of sales newsletters by about 150% (completely made up stat – but it’s been a lot.) Unroll.me got me thinking, “There are so many services like this, why do they exist in the first place?”

They exist because we as Marketers are not doing our jobs. Our real job. Yes, we have goals to increase the bottom line of our respective companies. But we cannot do that if we do not value our Customers.

Unroll.me exists because we, Marketers, are failing. Ad blockers exist because we, Marketers, are failing.

While overly simplistic, I wholly believe this to be true.

How do we stop failing the Customer?

I believe that we stop failing our customer when we start seeing the world through their eyes.

As marketers, we have a responsibility to our companies, but we also need to respect our customers. As marketers, we tend to see the world and our customers through the eyes of “marketing,” instead of through the eyes of the customer.

What value do we bring to our customer with our marketing? That is the question we should be asking ourselves. Not asking how we can fit another feature or tech spec on the website or flyer.

I believe that we should be true. And if we do that, if we be true to ourselves, our company, our customers, then we truly can help make the world a better place through marketing.

Be true. Be true to your company. Be true to your customers. Be true.

Weekly Blog Roundup – July 8, 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

Do image heavy emails still have a place in email marketing?” – DisplayBlock

Interesting perspective on those wonderful image marketing emails we all get. Jaina certainly presents some good reasons why we should consider (or reconsider) image heavy marketing emails. I’m not sure I fully agree, but it’s a good read nonetheless.

Video Marketing

Wistia for Salesforce” – Wistia

What? This is awesome. We already have Pardot, so we get our Wistia information there, but to have everything right within Salesforce? Pretty dang sweet. Even with Pardot integration, this might be worth looking into?

Always Be Teaching Something: Wise Words from Andy Orsow” – Vidyard

Great insight on how a great design software firm creates and uses video in their marketing. If you incorporate video in your marketing, you definitely need to read this.

Career Info

The Four Dimensions of Job Fulfillment — And a Map to Find Them” – Margaret Gould Stewart, Facebook

Love, love, LOVE. Thanks for sending this my way, Amanda Wood. Includes a wonderful quote from Sheryl Sandberg:

“It doesn’t really matter which team you join; just look for the place where you can add the most value.”

<3 x infinity.

Six Ways The Most Productive People Send Emails” – Fast Company

Great insight. I think anyone who is trying to manage their schedule well already uses many of the traits mentioned in this article. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it, or share it with that coworker who does send emails at 2 A.M.

The Crappy Person Checklist” – James Altucher

I must be on some type of “annoying person” kick with the email article and this one! James has a wonderful style of writing that takes you right into the story. He definitely gets straight to the point. Here, James quickly reminds us to remove cruft in our lives, especially cruft in the form of the Crappy Person.

Weekly Blog Roundup – July 1, 2016

Happy Fourth of July Weekend! I know I haven’t written a blog post in a while aside from these “roundups,” but I’ve got something in the works! In the meantime, here’s some of the articles I’ve been reading the past week.

And let’s be honest, I’ve been reading a lot this week, so a thousand apologies for the thousand links. On the other hand, it’s some good reading material for you for a long weekend! 🙂 

Pardot

Introducing Enhanced Social Posting” – Pardot

Pardot definitely is not meant to be your daily social media management tool. But their recent update to the tool makes Pardot one step closer to a one-stop shop.

Email Marketing

8 B2B email marketing examples that deserve a trophy” – Emma

Some pretty amazing email marketing examples in here. The Caterpillar example is one that you don’t see every day from the construction industry.

What is Emmet?” – Litmus

Emmet is an amazing tool for those who need to craft marketing emails on a regular basis. This isn’t Taxi for Email or anything like that. Emmet is meant to help you with the coding of your emails. Personally, I haven’t dug into it yet, but will definitely need to see how this could help my team.

The Top 3 Items to Consider when Logging Pardot Emails in Salesforce” – Paul B. Fischer

Paul hits on something here that I come across daily with my company, how do you choose what’s important or not important for your reps to see in Salesforce. I think the best point made is regarding the visibility of the information in Salesforce. I may have to write a follow-up post to that end. Thanks, Paul!

Marketing Automation Needs The Human Touch, Too” – GetResponse

The first of two posts from Kath Pay. This GetResponse post does a great job of reminding us that our marketing needs to be person-to-person, and not business-to-consumer or business-to-business.

Email Marketing Should Become Customer Service” – Mediapost

A second post from Kath Pay. This one is near and dear to my heart, even if it’s short. Great customer service is great marketing. And the reverse is also true, great marketing should be about great customer service. To that end, Kath Pay stresses that we marketers need to respect the expectations of our customers and “must deliver the promises they make when a consumer signs up for the email program.”

3 Ways the Job of Email Marketer Will Change by 2020—and How to Prepare” – Litmus

Some scary stuff in here if you or your company isn’t ready to change. If you are ready for change, some really fun stuff! I’ve been reading a bit about machine learning and email marketing, and this post from Chad White at Litmus brings up machine learning as one of the biggest changes coming to email marketing in the next 4 years.

The Importance of Email List Building” – Social Fusion

Short and sweet article with some basic steps on how to build your email list, and how to properly nurture your list.

Marketing

What You Need to Know About the Voice Search Revolution From Microsoft’s Purna Virji #MNSummit” – TopRank Blog

Fascinating! While I don’t focus much on search in my current role, as a consumer and techie it’s always fun to see where tech is heading.

People

I’m not necessarily going to write about each of these, but I love reading articles on how other people work. My favorite spot for that is “Ways We Work.” Be sure to hit that up!

How the creative team at Favor works” – InvisionApp

Ways We Work – Becky Simpson” – Ways We Work

See Girl Work, Podcast Episode 12: In Conversation with Amandah Wood, Founder & Editor, Ways We Work” – See Girl Work

Politics

Could Trump Be Nurturing the Next Hitler?” – History News Network

There’s a lot of hyperbole in politics, so it’s hard to sometimes decipher the crackpots from the conspiracists from the actual historians. I don’t know much about the history of the US prior to World War I, nor the history of Adolph Hitler, but to me, the theory presented here seems more plausible than Trump actually being the next Hitler.

What the 1880s tell us about why the rich are moving to cities today” – Washington Post

“We have 80 years of essentially zero production of neighborhoods with these qualities,” Grant says. “We’ve spent the last 80 years building car-oriented suburbs. Then when the elites decide they want to go back into the city, there’s not enough city to go around.”

I’m a huge Jane Jacobs and Richard Florida fan. Huge. One of my favorite memories of my first job out of college was getting to tape Richard Florida speak at Iowa State University. Awesome. So, whenever I read a great story about cities, how they’re built, how they’re designed (or not designed), and how people move, well, I eat it up like my dog eats peanut butter.

What a real ‘Brexit Britain’ would look like” – Washington Post

A lot of noise these past few weeks about Brexit. While my personal stock portfolio has already jumped above pre-Brexit, there are several articles going around about the future. This is a fun little piece, not too based in reality, but fun nonetheless.

The Blogger Who Saved the Economy” – The Atlantic

GREAT short documentary. On par with the writing of Michael Lewis. Wonderful.

The Money Illusion

The blog of the aforementioned blogger. Good stuff.

For Fun

Yes, The Infield Shift Works. Probably.” – Fivethirtyeight.com

I love 538. Been reading since pre-Obama. They do great write-ups on sports as well (given they’re owned by ESPN these days, not the NY Times.) The Infield Shift is a weird aspect of baseball. Does it work? Is it baloney? Check it out.

 

Weekly Blog Roundup – June 24, 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

How Machine Learning Takes Email Marketing to New Heights” – Only Influencers

Insightful, in-depth reporting on how machine learning (slash AI, or Artificial Intelligence) is already helping email marketers do email better. Kath includes three specific examples of companies using machine learning in the Email Marketing industry.

‘Spam King’ Sanford Wallace Sentenced to 2½ Years for Facebook Scheme” – NBC News

“Since 1995 — when he set up a company called Cyber Promotions to flood phones with junk faxes and, later, inboxes with junk email — King has lost numerous judgments in civil cases brought not only by Facebook, but also by the Federal Trade Commission, America On-Line and MySpace.”

Amazing that people waste their time for decades trying to spam others.

DMARC Changes Coming Soon To An Inbox Near You” – MediaPost

“Google and Microsoft will soon be embracing a p=reject DMARC policy, meaning that only Google can send email marketing messages from an @gmail address and only Microsoft can send email marketing messages from its suite of email applications, including Hotmail, outlook, live and MSN email accounts.”

I don’t see this affecting many corporations, as they will already be sending emails from their own domains. Can’t imagine there are too many legitimate marketers sending email from these domains.

Email Open Rates From The Top 5 Industries” – Winning Email

A simple list of the top industry open rates as of January 2016.

Salesforce Pardot

Salesforce Announces General Availability of Pardot Engagement Studio — B2B Marketing Automation Reimagined” – Salesforce Blog

Big update from Salesforce Pardot this week with the release of their Engagement Studio. Unlike their previously released Salesforce Engage that costs $50/user/month, Engagement Studio is a Generally Available release; every customer has access to Engagement Studio. This is a huge win for Pardot customers. I’ve long been a critic of the pricing strategy for Salesforce Engage, but that’s a completely separate topic.

Engagement Studio for Pardot” – Paul B. Fischer

A good write-up and tour of the new Engagement Studio in Pardot. Thanks Paul!

 

Weekly Blog Roundup – June 17, 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.

Marketing (ish?)

Stop arguing about who owns digital. It doesn’t matter in the long run.” – Boagworld

I work in a very traditionally structured organization, where for several years the website design was owned by marketing, and the hosting/tech was owned by IT. I’d say it’s now 97-ish% owned by marketing. This post from Boagworld does a good job of addressing this issue.

Attracting and Retaining Good Digital Staff” – MediaTemple

Another post from Boag, but over at MediaTemple. People who work in Digital are a different breed, aren’t we? Here’s some tips on how to make sure we’re satisfied and productive.

Why Building Your Personal Brand Can be as Simple as Saying ‘Yes’” – Proposify [PODCAST]

I’m still on this personal branding kick while I start building up my blog, focusing on email marketing. So, I’ve been reading a lot on personal branding and what I can do moving forward.

Can we talk about gender diversity at email conferences?” – Only Influencers

A great article about an important topic. I know an incredible amount of women marketers. In fact, the majority of people on our marketing team at GreatAmerica are women. So, where is the same proportion of representation at conferences? I didn’t necessarily notice this at Dreamforce the last two years, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open on Diversity in the future!

Diversity: The Discussion” – Only Influencers

A follow-up discussion on the aforementioned link.

Email UX is Easy. Said No One Ever.

Creating new emails is so easy, isn’t it?

Not!

It’s easy to say that email marketing has become easier over the years, and for the majority of us, email marketing is easier.

I Didn't Choose the Email Marketing Life. It Chose Me.

I was a young, naive, 27-year-old getting my first taste of email marketing with a “wonderful” ESP named Manticore. I would routinely spend days coding and fixing emails. The WYSIWYG editor wouldn’t have been state-of-the-art in 1995. It was a horrible experience.

Needless to say, once I started getting the hang of what it took to create HTML emails, I soon was on the hunt for a new, more user-friendly ESP. And about 18 months after I started, I led the drive and search for a new ESP, which turned into a search for a marketing automation provider as the industry changed. At the end of the day, we ended up with Pardot and haven’t looked back.

Marketing Automation to the rescue!

The difference between Pardot and the previous platform, Manticore, is night and day AND the effect on myself and our company was immediate. My time spent working on individual emails went from 3-4 days to maybe half a day, if not less. Today, I work on an individual email maybe once every 3 months because everything is pretty much on autopilot design- and coding-wise.

(As an aside, this changed me and my job role from that of email/web grunt to email/web strategist, and I now spend most of my time driving our email/web strategy instead of coding. FTW!)

WYSIWYG What?

One of the main criteria we used in our ESP/MA search was “how easy was it to create an email?” We wanted all of our marketing staff to be able to create emails on a regular basis without the need for fixing code on a regular basis. This is one of the main reasons we ended up choosing Pardot. Pardot’s WYSIWYG editor was light years ahead of what we were used to and what we saw among other enterprise-level Marketing Automation providers.

Design in IE MemeChange the Editor

Fast-forward 2-3 years and I realize now how difficult email design remains.

Yes, many tools exist to make design and coding easier. Tools to make troubleshooting easier. Guides on what CSS works in what client.

The million-dollar question remains: Why is it so difficult to create good emails these days?

It’s Outlook’s fault!

We all do this. You can hear me on a regular basis damning Outlook to eternal hell. It’s easy for all of us to blame it on the inbox – the Outlooks, the Gmails, and LotusNotes. But the blame also resides with us, the marketers, the designers, the technologists in charge of email marketing and marketing automation.

“Emails that provide a better user experience should be within reach of most marketers. They should not require any hand coding. All complexity should be hidden behind better, more powerful email creation tools. That’s our job as product people, and we are — at least partially — failing.” – OnlyInfluencers.com

There are plenty of what I call “email nerds.” The people who understand to their core, email is 600px wide, only use tables, Word sucks, inline CSS, and so much more. These are the people who know how to code the exceptions so the email renders correctly in Outlook. But in lots of companies, like mine, there’s only one of you (or me) – if you’re lucky. I think of other marketers in my metro area (roughly 200,000 people or so), and how many use ESPs like Constant Contact. These are the marketers who don’t have the resources, human or capital, to dedicate themselves to crafting hand-coded emails.

How to save the Everyman Marketer?

Where are the options for them? Where are the tools for the Everyman marketer? I’ve tried to make our templates or code-snippets “super simple” for anyone on our team to copy-paste into the email they’re creating. But the options are pretty much limited to creating one-off templates/emails for each email they create – which is tedious and time-consuming – or I create plain text code snippets and save them on our intranet for them to copy. This leaves our marketers open to copying or pasting the code incorrectly, and now the template doesn’t work as intended.

Where’s the drag-drop editor? How can I make that “snippet” process even easier? Even more simple?

Innovation in Email Marketing

Taxi for Email” is a good start in this direction. From what I’ve seen of the latest MailChimp editor, that’s a good start as well. While “Taxi” is something that anyone can use, most other similar tools are proprietary tools stuck within siloed software.

How do we move the email marketing industry forward and spread the knowledge outside of each of our silos? How do we get marketers and our budgets to place the same attention on email marketing that we do on social media? This despite the fact that email continues to be one of THE best ways to connect with customers and prospects.

No Best Solution. Right now.

The above missive isn’t really meant to answer those questions. Not for me, and not for you. We all have our own specific needs and wants, strengths and weaknesses. But we need to come together, as marketers AND consumers (because we are both), and push the marketing industry towards a more user-friendly email design future.