B2B Email Design – Gallery 2

March 17, 2010

Last week I started an email design gallery containing a series of HTML emails I received. This post is another installment of the “gallery” concept so that you have more designs to review and use in your own creative process. Is good to see what’s out there, what is working and what is not. The emails in these galleries are mostly B2B marketing in nature, but the design principles can be applied to B2C as well.

Note: The emails are in no particular order and the senders were selected at random from a variety of emails I get. Click on the images for larger version.

Design #11

  • Email Sender: Tableau Software
  • Email Title: 50 Metrics Every Marketer Should Master

  • What I Like: Small but visible logo on top left identifies the company immediately. Clean header graphic with big and concise title. Short copy. Right side bar with useful links related to the webinar.
  • What I Don’t Like: Copy is a bit too short… I did register for the webinar and missed it but it could have a bit more copy enticing me to go on and watch it on demand.

Design #12

  • Email Sender: Cision
  • Email Title: Discover the secret weapon

  • What I Like: Header graphic ties into the title of the webinar. Big blue lead in. Good use of bullets and of bolding of words within the bullets, drawing reader’s attention to them.
  • What I Don’t Like: Three different font sizes in the header graphic. The “sign up today” hyperlinked text at the bottom looks out of place, not sure if because of font size but doesn’t seem to fit within the design.

Design #13

  • Email Sender: OB10
  • Email Title: Setup the Perfect e-Invoicing Project

  • What I Like: Logos for Hertz and Xerox calls attention. Clear and concise title tells you right away what the subject of the webinar is about.
  • What I Don’t Like: Image used at the header (top left) is one of those generic stock photos that don’t add much to the message. Copy has nothing to do with the Hertz logo. I look at the logo and think it will be something about how Hertz did their e-Invoicing project but the copy doesn’t address that. Left side bar with Xerox logo talks about another webinar, which could be confusing. What do you want people to do after all, register for this one or for the other one?

Design #14

  • Email Sender: Bulldog Solutions
  • Email Title: Roadmap to Demand Acceleration

  • What I Like: This email was optimized for Outlook as you can see by the very top of it containing plain text. Sure, it may not look that good when you open it but if you’re using MS Outlook with “preview” or with images off, then you can clearly identify what the email is about. Simple but strong header graphic with webinar topic. Good balance between copy and design elements.
  • What I Don’t Like: The words they use in bold at the bottom are completely opposite to what I would have bolded.

Design #15

  • Email Sender: Manticore
  • Email Title: 23 Questions Marketing Automation Vendors Don’t Want You to Ask

  • What I Like: Big attractive header graphic with compelling title and nice “hero shot” of the buyer’s guide being offered. Compelling lead in. Concise bullet points.
  • What I Don’t Like: Seems to have too much copy, I get discouraged from reading it just by opening the email. Copy takes too long to get to the point of what the buyer’s guide is about. There seems to be a weird white space between the last bullet and the final paragraph.

Next I’m thinking about reviewing some email subject lines, because your email design won’t matter if the recipient doesn’t even get to open it!


Email Design Review Gallery

March 9, 2010

Are you tired of what your marketing emails look like? Are you in search of inspiration? Or just want to see what’s out there? Well, this post may be the answer!

Whenever my team talks about changing the design of our email campaigns, we start off my talking about emails we received in the past and that we liked. We also spend some time talking about the emails we hated and those that could be improved. We come out with a list of things to think about and that we could be using in our own campaigns. Is always good to see what’s out there to give you some ideas.

After searching a bit on the web I couldn’t find any “email design gallery” or something like it that would show me different email designs. Sure, our email marketing software has some canned templates but they are very bland. I was looking for some real-life good looking HTML emails I could use as a reference. So I decided to create one and share with you.

This is the first post of a series that will show you some marketing emails (webinar invitations, whitepaper downloads, product announcements, etc.) so that you can take this back to your team for your very own email marketing brainstorming session.

Note: The emails are in no particular order and the senders were selected at random from a variety of emails I get. Click on the images for larger version.

Design #1

  • Email Sender: Marketo
  • Email Title: Social Best Practices for Marketing in the Cloud

  • What I Like: Clean design; date and time of the webinar on top easy to find; orange “Free Webinar” button calls attention to the important action (register now!)
  • What I Don’t Like: Purple graphic on top (Webinar) doesn’t seem to add much to the content; text-heavy email with little break between paragraphs may discourage people from reading it

Design #2

  • Email Sender: Profound Logic Software
  • Email Title: Integrate your modernization efforts on IBM i with Atrium

  • What I Like: Well, its colorful I ‘ll give them that. And there’s a big orange “Register Now” right on top so whatever this email is about I know they want me to register.
  • What I Don’t Like: Too busy, too many things happening in this email that makes it very distracting. I had to read it a couple times to understand what the title was because my eyes kept bouncing around. My eyes go straight to that screenshot before I read the copy and so I have no idea what that shot is about. You are really hoping people stop and read the text, which may not happen all the time.

Design #3

  • Email Sender: Sitecore
  • Email Title: 7 Habits for Maximizing Website Conversions

  • What I Like: Catchy header with interesting graphic, clear title and date/time of the webinar easy to find. Big “Register for our webinar” button at the bottom makes it easy to find where to click to sign up. Picture of speaker gives it a personal tone.
  • What I Don’t Like: Although the header graphic is good, it could be a bit cleaner (I’d remove the mention of 2 sessions and increase the title a bit); Grey text over grey background doesn’t make it ‘pop’.

Design #4

  • Email Sender: MarketingExperiments
  • Email Title: No idea

  • What I Like: The blue and orange colors go really well with the white background. The picture of the speaker gives it a personal feel. Side banner is a good way to try “sell” additional product and increase registrations.
  • What I Don’t Like: Being an email from MarketingExperiments I was expecting it to be much better. This email is cluttered, is very difficult to determine what exactly are they trying to get me to do. How many webinars are being advertised here? And what’s up with blog posts (side bar) in this email? Too confusing. I think the only good thing going for them is that their name is recognizable and so people may spend some time deciphering their email.

Design #5

  • Email Sender: MarketingProfs
  • Email Title: How Businesses are Marketing with Facebook and Twitter

  • What I Like: Really great color combination makes it easy in the eye. Clear header with big title and date/time of the event. Orange “Sign up” button on top left corner is the natural place for your eyes after reading the header and calls attention. Big but concise lead-in. Sponsor logo nicely placed helps give authority to the email.
  • What I Don’t Like: Bullet points could have been more concise; left side bar is grey on grey background which makes it difficult to read.

Design #6

  • Email Sender: SPSS
  • Email Title: What if you had the power to increase campaign response rates and ROI?

  • What I Like:Cathy header and good combination of graphic with text to get people interested. Not copy intensive and good use of bullet points. Big lead-in helps keep users reading.
  • What I Don’t Like: Lead-in copy “Explode six direct marketing myths” doesn’t tell me much, poor choice of words (although ‘myths’ tend to get people to read). Right side bar basically empty, not helping much. No image of the whitepaper that they are offering (images, or “hero shots”, tend to increase registrations rate).

Design #7

  • Email Sender: Omniture
  • Email Title: A Recipe for Relevance

  • What I Like:Clean, nice looking header containing image of the whitepaper and download button. Very light on copy but direct to the point and making good use of bullet points.
  • What I Don’t Like: The ‘download’ button with the Forrester logo on top and right next to the image looks a bit out-of-place, maybe it’s just me? The copy could have been more precise in explaining exactly what the whitepaper is about, looks to me a bit vague.

Design #8

  • Email Sender: CoreMetrics
  • Email Title: The Effect of Disconnect

  • What I Like: The header graphic is not some random image but rather helps drive the point the title is trying to make about “disconnect”. Whitepaper shot on right is the right size (you can read the title of the WP) and right below it is a big red “download the full report” button that you can’t miss.
  • What I Don’t Like: A lot of copy in this email in a space that makes it look cramped doesn’t help the reader. The only “download” link seems to be the red button to the right, I would have added a couple more ‘download’ options either within the text or right after it.

Design #9

  • Email Sender: Eloqua
  • Email Title: Using Social Channels

  • What I Like: This is a really nicely designed email. Red header with Eloqua name tells me right upfront who’s behind the email, there’s not too much copy, the right side with the book shot catches my eyes immediately and the orange “download now” button is hard to miss, you know right away where to click to get it.
  • What I Don’t Like: Although the email design is pleasant in the eyes, the message is confusing. The big shot of the book on the right makes me believe that when clicking the “download” now orange button I’ll get that book chapter they talk about, but then there’s that other red download link in the middle saying “Download: The Buyers New Toolkit”. So which one is it? The book chapter or this toolkit?

Design #10

  • Email Sender: BottomLine
  • Email Title: ePayment Networks

  • What I Like: Bit header with the title of the webinar also tells me when it will be held. Big unmistakable “Register Now” button right on top.  Small graphic image to the right helps balance the copy.
  • What I Don’t Like: The paragraph right below the register now button is huge (9 lines), it would have been better to chop it off and make it a bit smaller, especially because the image to the right reduces available space. The copy is good but lacks some emphasis on important points such as the fact that Aberdeen Group will be presenting and a Senior Cash Control Specialist (a customer, maybe?) will be presenting. If they had bolded some of those names it would have drawn attention to that part of the copy making it easier to read and more compelling.

That’s it for this installment of Email Design Gallery. Let me know what you thought of these designs and if you have any to submit, please contact me!


The Danger of Email Marketing Benchmarks

February 15, 2010

A recent article from BtoB Online about email deliverability reminded me of how dangerous this whole thing of email marketing deliverability numbers can be. Studies from multiple email marketing service providers show different numbers when it comes to delivery rates, bounce rates, open rates, clickthrough rates, and more.

I work for a B2B software company and we do regular email blasts. Our open rates average 30%. Is this good? If I were to look at benchmark data from MailChimp we are doing way better than their published rate of 18% for companies in the software industry.  If I decided to spend the money for MarketingSherpa’s Email Marketing Benchmark Guide their benchmark open rate would probably be different.

Comparing Apples and Airplanes

You know that comparing different industries is irrelevant and that emailing B2C is nothing like B2B, but when you see reports that paint a good or bad picture about how email is doing in your industry, you tend to look at it carefully. Just beware of that inevitable question “why are we not getting the same results?” from your boss. Reading these isolated numbers and trying to use them as your overall goal will only lead to frustration. Yes, looking at different email marketing metrics is good to give you and your team an overall sense of how others are doing and also to spot trends but you should set your goals based on your overall objectives and historical performance.

Instead of asking how to match the industry averages, ask instead:

  1. How can we improve deliverability?
  2. How can we improve open rates?
  3. What can we do to improve clickthrough rates and, more importantly, to get people to buy/download/register?
  4. What are the most important metrics we should track?

The last question is probably the most important. The more you try to track, the less you will be able to do. Focus on the 3 to 5 key metrics for your email marketing program and the rest will follow. Evaluate how you are doing on a monthly and quarterly basis and try to improve every time. Analyze the results you get by segment (geography, products purchased, industry targeted, job titles, etc.) and start fine tuning the message, email design, subject line, date and time sent, and other relevant variables to each segment and you will start creating your own baseline.

OK, if you insist, here are some links to benchmarks I found online. A good starting point is the major email service providers (ExactTarget, Silverpop, Lyris, Eloqua, ConstantContact, Emma, etc.).

As I said, look at them but don’t bet on them or try to set your goals based on what others are supposedly doing. Industry benchmarks are only useful for bathroom reading.


Choosing an Email Marketing Software

January 11, 2010

Who’s the best email marketing company/software?

This question on a recent LinkedIn discussion thread for the Technology Marketing Community reminded me of when, a couple years ago, I delivered a presentation at the 2008 MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Summit. Titled “Managing the Vendor Selection Process”, it talked about my experience in selecting a new email marketing software for my company. Slides can be seen below.

Slideshare link: www.slideshare.net/dkuperman/managing-the-email-marketing-vendor-selection-process

The Selection Process

As the Director of Marketing, I had been pressing the company to replace our internal, archaic email system with something that was web-based (an “ESP”, or Email Service Provider, as the industry calls it) and that would reduce the time it took us to prepare, send, and evaluate email campaigns. The process we went through is not necessarily the best or the only way to do it, but it certainly helped put some metrics in place that we could use to evaluate each vendor. With so many options out there, having some kind of analytical basis to back your final choice can help get approval for the new system.

The Vendor Selection Matrix

I created an Excel file to consolidate all info from the vendors we selected so that we could do an analytical evaluation. The matrix helped us focus on how vendors compared on each feature and also gave us the ability to rank vendors based on weighted scoring. Why? Well, because there were some features we considered more important than others and so should you. Just because a vendor has a great way to create dynamic content for newsletters, it won’t matter if you don’t usually send out newsletters. You get the point.

Excel Template for vendor comparison: you can download and use my template as a starting point.

Note: if the download link doesn’t work for you, contact me and I’ll email the file to you.

How to score vendors using the comparison matrix spreadsheet:

  1. List features
  2. List vendor names
  3. Decide on a numbering system for each feature evaluation (if you have multiple people helping you select and evaluation vendors, make sure everyone agrees on what constitutes a “meets feature fully” versus “meets feature partially”). This is to help you differentiate between vendors that offer a similar way to accomplish something but one is clearly better (because it’s easier, or gives more options, etc.)
  4. Decide which features are more important (here’s where the weighted score comes in… give higher numbers for features that are more important)
  5. Score vendors

The best email marketing vendor?

Ha! Good question! This is a question that only you can answer:

  1. Decide what is your goal with the email marketing software
  2. Define key features you really need
  3. Score vendors
  4. Chose the one that most closely matches your needs

How about “soft” qualities?

Yes, the excel matrix may help compare features vs. features, but falls short on so-called “soft” features like technical support, quality of service, and the all too common “gut feeling”. Make sure you take those into consideration, especially on tie breakers. Vendors that score very closely may have some clear differentiators that are not easily measurable. The important thing is to lead with the analytics side before throwing the qualitative evaluation into the mix.

Good luck in your email marketing selection process!


Because You Can’t Beat Free Marketing Training

June 23, 2009

This is the second post finalizing the review of the Inbound Marketing University program from HubSpot. Here I talk about the final 5 classes. If you haven’t done already, check out the review of the first 5 presentations.

Class: Advanced SEO Tactics: On Beyond Keyword Research (GF401)
Professor: Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz

SEOmoz is one of the best places for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) information, and the presentation was full of nice tidbits about SEO. As I mentioned at my review of the basic SEO course presented, this is such a broad topic that 1 hour is not enough to cover everything, but Rand Fishkin did a great job presenting relevant information on how to get ranked higher on Google, including:

  • Link building
  • Keyword usage
  • Unique content creation
  • Domain diversity

As Fishkin explained each SEO concept, he made clear that they all need to work together. It doesn’t matter if you have great keywords if you lack the other elements.

SEO Tactics: He did a great job at distilling tactics into byte sized advice that we can all use for link building, content creation, and domain names. If you want to get some good insights on effective SEO, check out his presentation and the free articles they have on the SEOmoz website.

Veredict: This is a must watch class for those interested in SEO even if you’ve been doing it for a while. Rand’s presentation is engaging and full of great information.

Class: Calls to Action and Landing Page Best Practices (CV101)
Professor: Jeanne Hopkins, MECLABS, Marketing Experiments

If you are not familiar with MarketingExperiments, than you should immediately bookmark their website: http://www.marketingexperiments.com. They always have great content based on lots of testing they’ve done and publish their results frequently.

Since I’ve seen their reports and webinars in the past, the presentation about calls to action and landing pages was more of a refresher. Having said that, Jeanne’s presentation is a great starting point for those that have not seen their reports and want great actionable items for improving their landing pages.

The best take away from the presentation is their conversion formula: C = 4m+3v+2(i-f)-2a. Rather than being a formula that you need to solve, it is supposed to give you insights on how to create a landing page with higher probability of converting visitors. To get more insight into the formula and how it works, after watching the presentation, check out some of their website design case studies.

Veredict: Those new to Marketing Experiments are in for a treat. If you are familiar with them, not much new material.

Class: Inbound Lead Nurturing (CV201)
Professor: Brian Carroll, MECLABS, InTouch

The Lead Nurturing presentation followed the same format I had seen before from previous webinars presented by Brian Carroll, presenting the case for why would you want to “nurture” your leads. While the decision on whether to nurture or pass leads directly to sales will vary based on your own industry and experience, the concept is a powerful one.

Even if you decide not to engage in full lead nurturing as the presentation described, the concepts discussed during the webinar are worth bringing up to your sales managers to that everyone is on the same page. These include:

  • Definition of a lead
  • When should leads be passed to sales
  • When should leads be sent back to marketing
  • How should leads be followed up, and by whom
  • How should leads be qualified and what are the different qualification levels
  • What are the marketing messages that need to be developed for each type of lead
  • How should you track and manage your leads and what tools will you use

Veredict: Nothing new, but good solid concepts that marketers need to bring up to the sales management and come with an action plan.

Successful Email Marketing (CV301)
Professor: Eric Groves, Constant Contact

This presentation should have been titled Email Marketing 101. So if you need to get up to speed on why you should do email marketing, and the basics behind that, you will find out by watching this class, otherwise just skip it.

Veredict: Email marketing basics with a good intro for the novice, but lacking specific tips for the experienced email marketer. Other resources that will give you more insights into doing effective email marketing are MarketingSherpa and Marketing Experiments.

Class: Analyzing Inbound Marketing (AZ401)
Professor: Marshall Sponder, Monster.com, Web Analytics Association for Social Media

In this class Marshall takes you through a tour of web analytics and how to track and measure your efforts related to social media, web, and more. Besides giving you an overview of how web analytics work, he dives into some specific examples of how to understand the data you are getting from the analytics tool.

Veredict: Great introduction to web analytics and good tips on different types of analyzes makes this presentation worth watching with a notepad to take notes.

Conclusion

While I didn’t expect outstanding material from a free course, some of the classes were really great and worth watching again. The Inbound Marketing University calls itself a “marketing retraining program”  and I guess that if you really have not been involved with online marketing up until now, it could be a great eye opener. For those that have been around online marketing for a while is a good refresher but nothing spectacular. I still suggest checking it out because nothing can beat free training.


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