Dynamic email content: How data and design work together

Dynamic email content: How data and design work together

You've probably heard of the saying "Form follows function." In email, the saying would be "Design follows data." In other words, the data you plan to use in a campaign, whether a stand-alone email campaign or as part of a nurture series or journey email, should dictate the set-up and design of that email, instead of the other way around.  Want to use dynamic content in your emails? Have reliable data first Let's say you've heard a lot about dynamic content, and so you go to your email development team and say, "Can you design me a template for dynamic content now? We can figure out the back end later." The short answer: No. Design cannot run ahead of the back-end development of dynamic content because the data or data files might not be reliable.  Email design needs to accommodate "graceful degradation" – a design term that means an email is designed for the viewing clients that support its features and has fallbacks built in...
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The case for an email content audit

The case for an email content audit

When COVID’s first wave initially struck in early 2020, many marketing teams were left without a clear crisis response plan. Many needed to develop new messaging plans overnight and created campaigns that might have sounded good at the time, but it quickly became clear that everyone had similar ideas. Even the most comprehensive crisis-management protocols didn't tend to envision a world of lockdowns and mandatory social guidelines–or the economic, social, political, and cultural upheavals that would follow. Over the course of 2020, we've learned what our brands stand for, what our customers really want from us, and some of the organizational traps that kept us from responding as efficiently and effectively as we could. Now is the time to put that knowledge into action. While we managed to survive the initial storm, the pressures placed on the email marketing teams are set to continue in Q4 2020 and into 2021. Prepare for the long haul It’s the perfect time to assess your capabilities...
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Screening checklist for crisis response emails

Screening checklist for crisis response emails

As part of your crisis management email marketing revaluation, you might have to add some qualitative review questions to your campaign pre-deployment and quality-checking process. Besides checking for typos, broken links and call-to-action button copy, you should audit your content to make sure you're keeping your customers' interests in the forefront and not inadvertently offending with ill-timed or tone-deaf content. These questions can help: 1. Does my content answer "WIIFM?" "WIIFM'' means "What's in it for me?" Or, bluntly, "So what?" You can say yes to this question if your copy focuses more on the benefits of the product that its individual features – or on the benefits of any changes you have to make to accommodate COVID requirements. When you get right down to it, customers are all about themselves, so meet them where they are and remind them – overtly or subtly – why their lives are better because they buy from you. 2. Does my email address the customer's perspective? This goes...
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Email for marketplace businesses

Email for marketplace businesses

Your customer's relationship with your brand is complex. To borrow a phrase from the Beatles, it's more like a long and winding road than a short path from awareness to conversion. That's why the "one size fits all" model of email marketing doesn't work as well as it used to. Messages that treat every customer the same don't address each customer's unique situation, and the result is loss of engagement and contact with that customer. In today's complex retail environment, marketers have to listen closely for the signals their customers are sending and find the right timing and frequency to send messages that respond to those signals within a framework built to help the brand achieve its own objectives. This is hard enough for traditional retail brands that combine both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce. It becomes even more critical with the growth of "marketplace" e-commerce models. If your brand operates on the marketplace model and you're seeing diminishing returns from your email messaging, this information...
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Did digital transformation really just accelerate by 5-6 years?

Did digital transformation really just accelerate by 5-6 years?

For digital marketers, the big story of 2020 is not just the COVID-19 pandemic but the digital transformation it accelerated as the world stayed home to try to keep the virus in check. We explored some secondary statistics that prove that perhaps that did just happen. Consider these stats: Ecommerce takes off: This is the business story of the year, as stores closed but delivery services stayed open. Digital commerce is expected to jump 18% in 2020 according to eMarketer. Grocery shopping is driving the digital bus, especially for Baby Boomers, whose adoption rate jumped from 8% in February 2020 to 34% by mid-March, a trend experts predict will hold steady even as stores reopen or expand hours. Email engagement rises: A Campaign Monitor study reported email opens rose 4 percentage points in March and April compared to the same times in 2019: 21.7% in March and 21.2% in April. The average click rate rose from 2.78% in March to 3.01% in April. Although reports conflicted over...
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3 email design principles that beat the creative silver bullet 

3 email design principles that beat the creative silver bullet 

Life – and email – don't come with guarantees. Although we know what doesn't work in email design, no single design solution - the silver bullet - will work every time.    However, email does have general principles that designers should follow to give subscribers the best possible experience: an email message that looks good across browsers and devices, serves their needs, encourages them to act and portrays your brand in the best light possible.   1. Follow good email design practices for every campaign. Email design is more creative than ever, with new approaches to image and copy combinations, images, animations and video and even real-time content adding impact to every message . But every design should follow these basic best practices that encourage your subscribers to open and act on your emails. Make subject lines, preheaders and headlines work together.  We see many email messages that use the subject line content in the preheader (the first line of copy in the message that often...
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Content Marketing 101: What’s in it for Me?

Content Marketing 101: What’s in it for Me?

It has probably happened to you. You meet a guy at a conference or party who starts talking about himself, and within 15 seconds, you’re looking for an escape. Guess what! The same thing happens when we send an email about our brilliant products or services. However, we don’t even get 15 seconds–we get approximately 4–and the escape route is ‘delete’, ‘unsubscribe’, or ‘mark as spam.’ The solution? Don’t be that guy. Why did they sign up? Digital marketing should be a conversation, but if you’re talking about yourself, it’s a lecture. Frame your conversation by asking yourself why your subscribers signed up. Did they subscribe so you can tell them you’re “a leading service provider” or so they’ll know when you form a new partnership? Not likely. Most subscribers are with you because they thought there was something in it for them. Make sure there is. Every email or blog post, and ideally every paragraph and sentence, should include a clear benefit to...
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Top 10 Signs You’re an Email Geek

Top 10 Signs You’re an Email Geek

You might think calling someone a geek is an insult. However, in the email world, it means you're a member of a widespread yet close-knit group of developers, marketers, and strategists––all of whom believe in the power of email. There’s one thing you'll learn quickly as a member of the email community: We help each other out. We reach out across company and competitor lines to help our fellow emailers solve coding issues, handle deliverability problems, and figure out marketing strategies. This collaborative environment also marks the way everyone at Trendline works together to solve our clients’ email marketing problems. Most of us come to email from other disciplines. We had to learn email skills on our own through trial and error or online learning. That's probably why helping each other is a core characteristic of the email community and why we don’t hesitate to reach across department lines to work on client solutions. How #emailgeeks and Trendline made me an email geek I more...
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Trendline’s Top 10 Articles of All Time

Trendline’s Top 10 Articles of All Time

August marks Trendline’s 10-year anniversary, and we’ve had a lot to say! Here’s a list of our top-read articles of all time. From holiday emails to deliverability resources, there has been no shortage of Trendline content through the years. 10. Overview of the Enterprise Email Service Provider Landscape The Enterprise Email Service Provider (ESP) landscape continues to evolve, and choosing which platform is right for you can be a challenge. Learn from Trendline’s CEO, Morgan Stewart, about the strengths and weaknesses of each of the ESPs. 9. The Best QA Process to Produce Error-Free Emails Our QA process at Trendline not only needs to produce and test error-free emails but do it as quickly as possible. Trendline’s VP of Email Operations, Molly Privratsky, gives the full scoop on how the QA Team maintains a high error-free rate at blinding speeds by utilizing the Litmus tool. Read the full case study. 8. Soft Bounce vs. Hard Bounce: What’s the Difference? So your email bounced. What caused...
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Salesforce Marketing Cloud Experts–Why You Need One

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Experts–Why You Need One

It’s an open secret that people use only a fraction of the technology available to them on a typical marketing automation platform. A 2018 study by Holistic Email Marketing and Tripolis bears this out. Only 44% of companies that use marketing suites like Salesforce say they use half or more of the features on their email platforms. But, even if they use less than half of the platform, they’re still paying for 100% of its potential. Having well-trained users will help you get more of what you pay for. So, hire someone who’s an expert in Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) to work with your marketing team. Sounds simple enough, right? However, if you don’t check their credentials carefully, you could end up hiring someone who knows a little about email technology and figures they can teach themselves the basics of SFMC. We can predict what will happen next because we’ve seen it before: The first time they log in to SFMC, they will feel like a...
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