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Email Marketing Trend Report

January 15, 2013

“Voice From the Trenches” is written by Karen Euler, marketing professional and former board member of SMPS Boston. She welcomes questions and topic ideas on Twitter @karen_e.

email-Marketing-button2As the graphic design field gets more technical and IT seeps into everything, marketers may turn to different graphic designers for different projects. Five short years ago, Emily (Marsden) Anthony worked mainly as a print designer for landscape architecture. Today she is an interactive graphic designer, having worked at such firms as Constant Contact, an email service used by many SMPS Boston member firms. Now at TripAdvisor, Emily took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to identify the tendencies in cutting-edge email marketing. We started our conversation with a discussion about the increased use of mobile devices for viewing graphic email and the trends that this user pattern has fostered. “Right now big images seem to be on trend, along with one-column layouts,” Emily reports, “which are both mobile-friendly. In terms of messaging, it is important to get to the point quickly and link out to the main content. It’s the click that counts most and the email content needs to provoke interest.”

Indeed, it’s the click that counts. Emily continues, “A clean, simple, smart message in the subject line and a fun-to-read email will be successful. You want to catch the reader’s eye and stand out from all the other emails in the inbox.” Blogger and pro email designer Elliot Ross reveals a good example of a UK grocery delivery service email that made him click here.

Similarly, an email from Patagonia arrived recently with the subject line “Field testers, storytellers, pioneers, …” This subject line headed an email filled with smiling, windburned faces. The piece worked as a hook for a retail brand that courts city dwellers who aspire to break free on the weekend and live out their wilderness dreams.

Emily points out excellent resources for marketers and graphic designers who might want to understand how better to communicate with their interactive specialist designers. Four companies in particular provide lots of great free content: Return Path, Responsys, Campaign Monitor, and Exact Target. As she says, “Their blogs are great and always on top of the latest trends.” A cursory read through the publications of these four companies suggests that this gallery is one of the most inspiring offerings.

In many industries, including AEC, emails are not yet responsively designed, but that day may be just around the corner. Responsive design for the web provides an optimal viewing experience — easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling — across a wide range of devices, from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones.

To see how a mobile-optimized email newsletter can look in sketch form, scroll down this post and see the illustrations in this blog post. These sketches make it immediately clear how little “real estate” there is for crafting a powerful message and incorporating a call to action (“click here” or “sign up here”).

As Elliot Ross notes, if you are not yet going all-out responsive just yet, then perhaps designing your “desktop” email to be more mobile friendly is a happy compromise. Recall Emily’s first point: large images, a single column-layout, and a simple message to provoke the click.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Vikki permalink
    January 15, 2013 4:29 pm

    Great article, Karen. The design links are very inspiring!


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