‘Twas the email before Christmas…

Thursday 3rd October 2019, 9:20am

Get some seasonal standout from the festive email marketing crowd

Anyone remember autumn? It was that thing we used to have between summer and winter. For marketers, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness has morphed into a kind of warmup to the dense selling environment of Christmas, when the volume of email advertising can be expected to peak at levels well above the norm.

Failing to achieve marketing standout at such a hectic time is easy: just send out a raft of poorly targeted emails stuffed with irrelevant content. If boosting your sales, brand and email sender reputation sounds more appealing, providing a more valuable, relevant and helpful email experience that works for both the brand and the audience will deliver the win.

We’ve dug through our latest marketing toolkit to bring you five top email-sharpening ideas. With these in place, your Christmas comms will laser through the miasma of mince pies, mulled wine and mediocre telly.

1.      Accessibility

Email readability is key for everyone, including those with cognitive, dexterity or visual challenges. Here are some basics.

Keep longer paragraphs left aligned (by ‘longer’ we mean anything over 2-3 lines). This will help your readers find the start of each line more easily.

Inserting white space between paras and sections of text is another classic eyeball-easing trick from the print world that works just as well on screen by breaking content up into digestible chunks.

You’ll achieve the same effect by limiting the characters-per-line count to between 50 and 75, the optimal line length suggested by respected independent web usability research institute Baymard. Shortening your lines will get the reader’s eye to jump back more frequently to the start of each new one, establishing a focused reading rhythm.

And not everyone has the digital delicacy of a surgeon. Large call-to-action buttons offend nobody and greatly assist those with dexterity challenges.

2.      Smarter Coding

Never lose sight of your email’s purpose. Always start with the basic template, building on its functionality with smart coding enhancements.

Clever coding will allow background images to break up a standard blocky grid and add freshness and interest. Static emails can be enlivened by adding hover effects to your images and buttons. Rounding the corners on your call-to-action buttons (CTAs) makes them more pressable. Interactive carousels increase reader engagement. They also free up extra space for multiple content block display. And you can help visually impaired readers who use screen reader apps by adding ARIA roles to your HTML code, ensuring that all your important story-telling images have alt tags.

3.      Design thinking

Function and form don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Good design techniques will enrich your emails without diluting their performance. Try these latest ideas.

Bold colours and vignetting (desaturating bold colours towards the edge of an image) is pleasing to the human eye and will draw attention to key areas of your email.

Bold typography – you don’t always need images to make a creative statement.

Layering – off-grid and abstract layouts can create a ‘magazine look’ that will gently draw the readers’ eye through your content.

Simplicity – keeping the checkout design page clean and intuitive sharpens up the customer experience and reduces the rate of email abandonment.

4.      Animation

Using something as simple as a GIF instead of a static image can boost interest, attention and engagement. CSS animations can create an even smoother, higher quality experience.  

Be careful though. Platform support for CSS and GIFs isn’t always great. You need to make sure that your content is readable and relevant in the worst-case scenario where the reader is only seeing the static image. 

Example animations include; countdown clocks, timers, end of sale messages and product reveals.  

5.      Live Content

Data drives relevancy and dynamic use of your customer database will improve targeting. Linking to your customer segmentation and behavioural analytics will refine further your ‘point of send’ personalisation.

‘Point-of-open’ content, by contrast, pulls in live and streaming content. Through public authenticated websites, RSS feeds or API calls you can create dynamic, personalised and variable emails at the ‘point-of-open’. 

Example live content includes; real time inventory information (stock, occupancy, bookings, reservations), live social feeds (Instagram, Pinterest), live currency conversions, weather forecasts, product pricing and web to email content such as online browsing history. 

If you like the sound of all this but don’t have the resources to make it happen, Optima Connect designs, builds and despatches emails through a variety of market-leading platforms, including enterprise scale tools. Last year we sent over one billion emails and have recently developed a ‘plug-in’ preference centre product to help clients refine their targeting even further.  Interested? Drop us an email at hello@optimaconnect.co.uk