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.

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 10, 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

6 subject line and preheader perfect pairings” – emma

While there are a never-ending amount of articles like these, it’s always fun and interesting to see where subject lines are heading. Emma shares some fun, and entertaining, examples of recent subject lines.

Email trends & innovations we should talk about” – Only Influencers

AMAZING roundup of news and thoughts from the Email Innovations Summit. My favorite? “Beautiful UX in email is still too hard.” Definitely a MUST-READ.

The Wistia Guide to Calls to Action in Video Marketing” – Wistia

Video is more than a pretty moving picture. It’s proven to help move your customers along the sales journey. Make sure you know how to incorporate Calls to Action in your videos with this guide from the video marketing masters Wistia.

What can brands learn from brutalist web design?” – equator

I love simple. Minimalist. I’ve never heard of Brutalist design until I saw the below article from Vox. Once I started looking into as far as web design goes, it definitely tugs at my digital heart.

Brutalist architecture turns ‘ugly’ into a design statement. Here’s what that looks like on the internet.” – Vox

See above. The article that turned me onto Brutalist design.

Professional Development

Shine Theory: Why Powerful Women Make the Greatest Friends” – NYMag, The Cut

Written for women, but good information all around. Don’t be jealous of your successful friends.

5 Unusual Personal Branding Tips” – Inc.

Almost more of a round-up of personal branding tips. Check out the associated links in the article as well for some further reading.

Fun

Netflix Studied Your Binge-Watching Habit. That Didn’t Take Long.” – New York Times

We’ve known for a couple years that Netflix and Amazon are using data to create new shows. This article talks about how we consume those shows. What defines a binge?

The Drive: Numbers don’t lie; new app shows we’re not best drivers” – StarTribune

While I don’t live in Minnesota anymore, I use the app mentioned, EverDrive, to track my driving. It’s automatic, so I don’t have to think about it, and it gamifies safe driving, which is definitely fun!

Bulletproof Email Button Roundup!

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.49.06 AM
The original situation.

Came across this thread the other day. Spot on for anyone designing emails, and a great discussion, with lots of amazing shared resources on creating “bulletproof buttons” for email design.

I thought I would take a moment to write up my thoughts, and share some of those resources as well.

Best Resources for Creating Bulletproof Buttons for Email

1) SexyButton – A Responsive, Universal, HTML Email Button

"SexyButton" from BluePrint Interactive
“SexyButton” from BluePrint Interactive

Many of the resources this list includes are home-brewed solutions created by email marketers for their own in-house marketing needs. The “SexyButton” created by BluePrint Interactive is no exception. Not only does BluePrint provide the code for “SexyButton,” they also include a writeup of it’s creation, an explanation of the coding, and examples of how the “SexyButton” renders in different email clients.

Pros: Code available for end user. Button renders correctly. in most common email clients.

Cons: Only code based. Need to know HTML to edit button.

2) Bulletproof email buttons – The Holy Grail of Bulletproof Email Button Creators, Buttons.cm.

Bulletproof email buttons from Campaign Monitor
Bulletproof email buttons from Campaign Monitor

Buttons.cm from Campaign Monitor is a very easy tool to choose what options you desire for your button. They’ve included several different examples as well, so you can start from a template and change to what your email design calls for.

Pros: Allows user to change specific parameters of button design. Gives visual example of final button design. Copy HTML code directly from creator.

Cons: If your email template is <table> designed, you’ll need to fix things a bit to make the button work correctly.

3) Cheshire Impact – “Top 5 Free Call to Action Button Generators.” 

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 2.13.52 PM

A great resource from one of the premiere Pardot expert organizations. Cheshire Impact goes through 5 different button generators, each with their own value-adds. Great resource to check out. Be sure to follow them on Twitter as well!

4) Litmus – A Guide to Bulletproof Buttons in Email Design. Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 2.16.19 PM

This is more of a background on bulletproof email buttons, which is a good place to start if you’re looking into the reasons why you should include non-image CTA buttons in your email designs. We can still make our designs “pretty” without being reliant on having an image-based email design!

 

Salesforce Pardot – Import User Sync Issue

Came across a “bug” with Salesforce Pardot yesterday while uploading new sales Users.

I’m writing this as a warning to other Pardot customers, and as a suggestion to Pardot. 

Suggestions:

  1. Change the User Import process to automatically dedupe existing Users.
  2. Add functionality so that Salesforce Users are automatically synced to Pardot Users, including User Role.

Here’s the sitch: 

I had a .csv of all of our Full License Salesforce.com Users that I needed to import to Pardot.

Pardot Users Menu Animation
Pardot Users Menu Animation

Once I selected the .csv file in the import window, and matched the correct fields for import, I finished the process, and clicked “Confirm and Save.”

A couple minutes later, when I got the email saying the import was completed, something crazy happened.

I lost Admin access to Pardot.

Unbeknownst to me, when I imported the .csv file, I indicated that the User Role should be Sales. Because I didn’t indicate the User Role in the original .csv, Pardot used “Sales” for all imported Users.

Pardot - Users Role
Where the mistake happened.

You might ask yourself, if I saw that under User Role, I’m specifically warned, “If the Role field is not mapped, all users imported will be assigned this role.” why did I continue to import?

Because, earlier in the process, Pardot specifically notes “Any users who already exist within Pardot will be skipped during the import process.” So, I thought, this is not going to affect any current User in Pardot.

pardot-users1b

I was wrong.

It took several hours for Pardot Support to provide me access back to the account. For those several hours, our team had no Admin access to our Pardot account. Yikes!

Today, everything is resolved and back to normal.

Here’s what YOU can do to help:

If you’re a Pardot customer, click on both links below and “upvote” the two ideas for this situation (or related situations).

http://ideas.pardot.com/forums/36996-ideas/suggestions/6425788

http://ideas.pardot.com/forums/36996-ideas/suggestions/7192608

Let’s make it clear to Pardot and Salesforce that we need to see greater connectivity between the two systems at a default, and not as a higher-priced add-on.

 

 

Spreading a Brand through Email Marketing

Make sure your marketing emails get to your customer's inbox!

In my day job, I spend a significant amount of time educating others on the best practices for email marketing. One of the most frequent situations I run into is the idea of sending a one-off message to a huge mailing list. Specifically, a mailing list that has been purchased, dug up, or otherwise not grown organically. These addresses are typically not current customers for us either.

If I get a 1% response rate on this, I’m happy!

The above quote is what I’m trying to avoid. Educated our sales team as to why we should avoid the “mass emailing” idea. The problem we run into is communicating the necessity of not using our email marketing for these “brand awareness” or “spreading the brand” mailings.

Target those prospects that have previously shown interest.

What you really should focus on instead of email as a “shotgun” approach, is to instead aim  our email marketing towards the prospects that have previously shown interest or reached out to your company in some manner or another (tradeshow, call, white paper download, etc). Through a properly directed email campaign, we can garner that prospects interest in our company’s offerings. When you take the “blast” approach, there are usually consequences that affect all of your future email marketing:

  1. When your emails are marked as spam by the recipient, you’re increasing the chance of all emails being marked as spam. This reduces the likelihood of all future emails reaching the inboxes of our prospects.
  2. And once a recipient marks an email from your marketing campaign as spam, your company’s reputation and image is reduced to “just another spammer.” Not something that we want to happen!

And these two consequences usually go hand-in-hand, and also are greatly multiplied when left unchecked.

So, the take-home lesson is this: Don’t use email marketing as a brand awareness tool, or spreading your brand name. Email marketing is better utilized for measuring the interest in your company and your company’s offerings.