Email marketing is amazing. In 2017, 54% of the entire planet had an email address. That means there are more people with an email address than there are people who have a Facebook account. And while Facebook is a good way of reaching your audience and increasing your sales, savvy digital marketers use it as a means of capturing people\'s email addresses. They know that email marketing is more effective than social media, with 44% of users checking their email for a deal from a company they know, whereas only 4% will go to Facebook. If someone is on your email list, it’s because they chose to be there. This means all you have to do is keep them there, and to sell them your stuff. How are you going to do that? With a perfectly designed email marketing campaign that contains all the right components, from top-notch copy to engaging visuals. First, you need to... Nail The Subject Line Almost 50% of your subscribers will open an email because the subject line appealed to them. Buzzfeed knows how important the subject line is when it comes to making an email marketing campaign. Their subject lines are always brilliant, and their former newsletter editor, Dan Oshinksy gives great advice when he says that you need to “Make your subject line clear. Nobody should open an email and not know what they’re about to read.” Email marketers struggle with the subject line because they get around 40-50 characters to make an impression on the reader. That isn’t much, and it means you need to do a few things in a limited space: Tell people what they’re going to get Be personal - include their name Tease - arouse curiosity Outline a benefit they’ll receive if they open this email Avoid spam words, such as “free” or “cash” Create a sense of urgency Do you need to be a magician to make this work? Not at all. Here is an example of expertly crafted subject lines: Send Out Awesome Copy No one wants to read boring emails. They want to be informed or at least entertained. Don’t focus on selling something in every email you send during your campaign. In fact, it’s hard to sell to strangers on the Internet unless you’ve first built a strong rapport with them so that they now trust you. Build rapport by sending out emails that are rich in value and tips and tricks. Make a human connection with your readers by relating a personal story of yours. Get to know them with questions. Segment Your Email List Segmentation works. Segmented email lists return almost 60% more clicks and boost open rates by 14.64%. If you don’t segment your email list, you’re essentially sending out the same email to all your customers, who have different tastes, interests and priorities. Over time, some subscribers will feel as though they’re getting no value from your emails and will either stop opening them or unsubscribe. Perhaps the easiest way to segment your list is with a survey or quiz. Keep in mind that your list will need incentivizing - after all, not all of your subscribers will take the time to fill out a survey or list out of the goodness of their own heart. A survey gives you a massive insight into what your customers want, but it also lets you segment your list according to different wants and needs. Then, you can design your email marketing campaign so that you’re sending better-targeted emails out to the right cluster of customers. WordPress has a Quiz and Survey Master plugin that you may find useful. Another way to segment your list is according to past purchases. If a customer bought X product, make sure you retarget them with a similar product - as opposed to a random one that has zero interest to them. This tailors the shopping experience to each and makes it more personal - which is exactly what customers want. Use Color This is one trick that some email marketers miss, but it’s also not important that all marketers use color in their email. It all depends on what your niche is. For example, an organic food newsletter would benefit from some green text that gives the email a vibrancy and freshness. This makes a better connection with the target audience. Color can be a hugely important aspect of your email newsletter, and it can help you to stand out and make an emotional connection with your subscribers. Think about Christmas for a moment. What colors would a festive email need to contain to make it stand out and catch your eye? Red and green would work. Then there is, of course, the psychology behind color and most consumers have said that color influences their decision-making more than anything else. What colors you use depends what your intentions are: Red: Attracts attention Creates a sense of urgency (danger) that they might miss out Yellow: Makes us feel good (sunshine, warmth, happiness) Use it to promote vacations and deals Orange: Energetic (sun-kissed, oranges) Promote food produce Green: Fruit and veg campaigns Blue: Promotes a feeling of trust Water products and cleanliness Black: Professional Slick Elegant Create A Killer CTA Emails with a single call-to-action increases clicks 371% and sales 1617%. They are an essential part of your email. The CTA is the part where you tell your subscribers exactly what it is you want them to do. Want them to buy your product? Tell them with your CTA. Want them to take your quiz? Ask them with your CTA. Make it a button so that it looks clickable, too. In text-heavy emails, visual elements stand out. Rather than placing a hyperlink in the body of text and hoping you receive clicks, create a CTA that is clickable and easy to find. You can use sites like Design Wizard to create a button without the need of a graphic designer. Keep the CTA visually simple but also keep the text simple. Don’t give people too much to do. Give them just one choice: Use a Premade Template Visuals are well worth using. We’re living in an increasingly visual world and if you haven’t yet started to focus on the visual content of your emails, now might be the time to start. In 2017, over 35% of visual marketers said visual marketing is now more important than any other content. A year earlier in 2016, over half of all B2B marketers were prioritizing visual content assets. When you use a pre-made template, it’s a lot easier to implement visuals in your email marketing campaigns. Pre-made templates are especially popular with beginners who have never used visuals in their emails before. They provide a pretty good foundation, though I’d suggest that you tweak any template you use so that your voice comes through clearly. There are tools available which provide you with ready-made email marketing templates that cost you no time at all. For you, there’s no designing involved. All you need to do is pick a template and tweak it so that - as mentioned - your voice and a brand image comes through. Templates are made up of content blocks which you can easily delete or replicate or shift around. Use Images There’s no need to go overboard with images. Just one picture can tell a thousand words. The great thing about images in emails is that you don’t need to waste time and money taking photos yourself. Instead, you can download a stock photograph from an online site. Pik Wizard, for example, offers lots of free images. In fact, there are a handful of sites that offer free stock photos. It depends what your message and brand are, but you don’t always have to aim for high-quality images. A lot of email marketers use memes that are not top-notch photos, but which are humorous and engaging. And sometimes that’s all that matters. Conclusion These are some tips on how to design your email marketing campaign in 2018. Don’t expect instant results, of course. Fine tune your design efforts, be prepared to make changes until the conversions and sales start rolling in. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Let’s rewind a bit: Benchmark started back in 2004 as an email marketing service that was easy to use and accessible to anyone hoping to grow their business. Since then, the company has experienced significant changes resulting in the need to reidentify who we are over the years. This has been reflected in cycling through a few different logos and rebrands in an effort to match our shifting identity. Our Challenge The product and design growth that we have experienced often happened out of necessity and somewhat unexpectedly. As a small company, time and resources are minimal and we have had to do our best within the reality of those limitations. We were able to maintain a fairly consistent identity. However, we lacked the opportunity to create a brand that fully embodied who Benchmark is and the direction that we are going. As the design team, this often left us in an awkward and unclear space, making it difficult to have excitement and ownership of our identity as the company continued. It was time for a change. It was the time that as a company we had something that could scale and something that could perform. One of the most fundamental parts of a brand identity has to do with the logo. This presented the first, and greatest, challenge. Our old logo had some major weaknesses. It consisted simply of our name written in a script typeface without a correlating mark. When using our logo in small spaces, we did not have a mark or small version of the logo that functioned well. We often ended up using the ‘B’ of ‘Benchmark’ for those situations, which was less than ideal. Another challenge was our primary brand color. As a dark navy blue, our brand looked far too similar to numerous other corporate enterprise software companies. Along with a generalized name like Benchmark, correlating to the mainstream tech market, there was a need to create a new brand identity that would stand out and demand attention. How Do You Rebrand a Company Anyway? When we began the process of creating a brand identity, we had no idea what we were doing. Identifying the challenges above was only one small step in the task before us, and we realized we had more questions than answers. How do you rebrand a company with offices in nine different countries and nine different languages? Where do you even start? Our small in-house design team sure as hell didn\'t know. We searched for every rebrand we could find on the internet, trying to dissect blog posts looking for any hints of how the process could work. Many companies that shared about their rebrands often mentioned only bits and pieces of the process. It was rare to find anyone that detailed each of the steps, but for those that did, we were extremely grateful. We also found a couple of books including Designing Brand Identity and Design Matters that guided our journey. For companies that willingly shared about their rebrand, it seemed that each one we found had a very different process. Some of the companies with greater resources utilized outside agencies to take on the rebranding task, not surprisingly creating stellar results. It became evident that there are many ways to rebrand, and we had to choose a way that was best for our company. Since our design team knew the uniqueness of Benchmark, understanding its quirks and functions, we felt the creative freedom to choose a path for rebranding that reflected our individualism. Finding Our Company Identity The initial Benchmark identity was conceptualized organically, without much thought or intentionality behind it. As the company shifted and grew, it became clear that having an identity with a purpose was a necessity in order to continue succeeding in a competitive and quickly changing market. 2016 was the year that marked large scale changes for our company and its identity development. As a whole, Benchmark dug deep to figure out exactly who we are, who we want to be and where we fit with the rest of the enterprise software world. This could not have been better timing for our design team as we began to take on the rebrand. Determining how to encompass the complexity of holding to our roots, while also having a better definition, required an assessment of the Benchmark of old and the Benchmark that was to be. This happened in a few different ways and contributed to the creation of our brand brief that we worked on with Curt and Denise Keller, the owners of Benchmark. Our CEO, Curt, chose the word ‘Benchmark’ and a navy blue back in 2004, from a desire to be a company that appeared corporate and professional. Curt has always had big dreams for Benchmark and envisioned it being a standard in the industry. The hope was that the company would be the rock, or benchmark, by which our clients would evaluate email marketing. The dream of Benchmark was still foundational, whereas the colors could use adjustment. Curt and Denise are very down to earth and practical. They have created an incredible company culture that is comfortable, casual and feels like a family. We love extending those same feelings and values to our customers through our products, and knew that this was vital to include in the rebrand. To evaluate our trajectory, including customer base and products, diverse teams were formed within the company. Using books like Traction, Scaling Up, Inside Advantage and 2-Second Lean, people on the teams helped to give input and perspective in defining the new company identity, and guiding the rebranding process. Step 1 - Define the Attributes Based on our conversations with the owners and the strong themes that emerged, we set out to define our brand attributes. The most obvious themes were that Benchmark is powerful and professional while simultaneously being friendly, approachable, and practical. That balance is our sweet spot. To coincide with these themes, we created a list of attributes, which would be a crucial part of the rebranding process. This list of attributes became the foundation for our visual ideas and was the system with which we ranked ideas and made decisions. No matter how great a concept was, if it failed to communicate the attributes of the company to our design team then inevitably it would fail to communicate our brand. To formulate our list of attributes, our design team did a word association exercise. We placed words from the brand brief in the center of giant posters, filling each one with any words that correlated with the one in the middle. We ended up with hundreds of words. We then highlighted all of the words that stuck out as strong attributes and had potential to give us visual ideas for the brand. From all of the highlighted words, we were able to narrow down to a final short list of attributes. Step 2 - Draft Out All Ideas From the list of visual attributes, we did quick sketch sessions of our raw ideas. This was by no means a visually stunning exercise, but it was extremely helpful to start the development of the logo mark. As we did this, we started to see strong visual themes emerge, some of which would end up being in the mix until the very end of the process. After flushing out some broad concepts, we honed in for some smaller sketches on the logo mark. To do this, we did an exercise where we created visual metaphor matrices, which helped us generate ideas by combing words on a matrix. We listed our attributes individually on one axis and then had simple words on the other axis. In trying to compare the combination of two of the words, it pushed us to come up with more ideas. Step 3 - Exercise and Iterate As the process continued, we went through hundreds of concepts. One thing we definitely learned is that we must iterate and be open to new exercises to keep moving and creating. Time after time, we found ourselves feeling as if we had no ideas left, but also recognizing that what we had generated so far was not yet right. Whenever we were stuck, we would try more exercises to keep pushing things further. Step 4 - Deciding on a Direction When we felt confident that all of the ideas had been explored, it was time to make the tough decision on the final direction of the logo mark. This was one of the most difficult moments in the process. We had a handful of logos that felt exciting to take to take to the next level. We also knew that we didn’t want to settle and desired to select something that would leave a lasting impression as a representation of the company. Ultimately, it came down to which one encompassed the most attributes. As a team, we selected our top picks, then did a silent vote and discussed the results. It was a relief to get past that stage and onto the next. Step 5 - Iterate Until It’s Right There was still much more work to do even after selecting the final direction. We continued to draft versions of the logo mark by doing exercises on both paper and in Adobe Illustrator. There reached a point after numerous iterations where we knew that we were close, but for some reason were having trouble finalizing the concept. Our team kept making attempts, creating and doing exercises, but nothing felt quite right. Finally, Kristen, one of our designers, started to see something happening in an old treatment of the logo from a previous exercise. As she had us gather around the mark that we had been adjusting for awhile, she began to explain what she was seeing, and as we listened, everything clicked into place. The center of the mark was where the magic was happening. It was about growth and transformation, about never being the same again and continuous improvement. Lines were moving forward from the left to the right, intersecting and communicating with the negative space. Once the lines pass through the center, they change position and continue to grow. This reflected not only our company story but the story we wished for our customers. Our new logo contained all of our attributes and then even a little bit more. Step 6 - Logotype and Typography For the logotype and typography, we decided to use a sans serif. Whenever we saw ‘Benchmark’ written in serif, it felt too serious and didn’t fit our attributes as well. After trying hundreds of sans serifs, we landed on a beautiful typeface from Luzi Type called Buenos Aires that paired beautifully with our finalized mark. Thinner weight sans serifs felt too weak to hold our company name, and heavier weights were too overpowering. We also wanted a typeface that was solid but still felt approachable and friendly. Interestingly enough, Luzi Type had another sans serif that we loved called Messina, which ended up being our main typeface apart from the logo. Step 7 - Identity System and Continuous Improvement Our design team is still in the beginning stages of creating our identity system and has started exploring ways to incorporate this motif into developing products. The hope is that the new motif translates growth, transformation and communication as it is implemented into the redesign of our application and our new CRM product that Benchmark is currently pre-releasing to a select group of users. You can continue to join us in our rebranding journey by subscribing to these posts and read stories on how we are learning to improve. Our Team A sincere thank you from all of us on the Benchmark brand team for taking the time to read about our labor of love. How About You? This was a really intense, but incredible process for our design team. There were many things that we learned from it, and looking back, we wish that we would have had more resources and guidance to help us not feel so alone on the journey. Our hope in sharing our process through this blog post is that it provides encouragement and offers direction to other designers embarking on a company rebrand. If you have questions, would like more resources, or have stories of your own rebrand, we would love to hear from you in the comments below or on social media! - Are you currently working on a brand or rebrand project? What is it? - Share your process! However simple or complex, it really helps others.
Our company has found itself in a new season of change, and our different product teams have been growing and finding their strides. We\'ve made mistakes and have faced a bunch of challenges, but we’re learning to make continuous steps of improvement. So, thanks for joining our team’s journey. Here’s a little peek into what went into our release of the restyle and organizational update to the Drag & Drop Editor. Why did we take this on? Our Editor Product Team is comprised of two designers, a front-end developer, a back-end developer and our key stakeholder CEO. We focus on the three email editors: Drag & Drop, Plain Text and Code Editor. When we were in talks of what to take on next, we identified a reoccurring problematic issue that needed solving: inconsistent UI across our newest tools. Over the past few years, Benchmark has released some new builder tools: three email editors, two signup form builders, email engagement automation and most recently Automation Pro (Beta). One weakness was that each tool had different style variations that resulted from a number of possibilities such as multiple designers, multiple developers, lack of style guide, poor handoffs, problematic legacy code and so on. Some variations were visually obvious and some were code specific. With so many inconsistencies, it was creating a nightmare for our product teams to do any feature updates. Not to mention, it hurts our users’ experience and creates confusion as to what are expected behaviors and visual cues. How does a user learn to trust your app if the action outcome is a guessing game? We needed to organize ourselves and move toward product consistency so that our users could spend less time thinking about how to use our tool and more time focusing on their task at hand. Because of this, our team identified two goals: Clean up our design styles and code Create a more seamless user experience across our updated tools There were multiple opportunity areas, but for this release, we decided to limit it to style and organizational UI updates in the top navigation, active block panels and text editing toolbar. Each area presented its own challenges, so here are some of those thoughts. Simplify navigation within the editor The first opportunity sat with the main navigation in our editor. This was represented by four icons that divided each edit area. The fourth icon (a pencil) indicated when a block was selected but didn\'t actually contain options in its panel when a block was not being edited. It ate up valuable space and was more confusing than helpful to our users, so we removed it. We also replaced the icons with text to improve clarity across all languages. Icons took less room, but we thought it important to use clear labeling here. Dedicating ourselves to nine languages isn\'t easy. It means that all our decisions come with additional challenges and we design with worst case scenarios in mind. One challenge is character count. Most of the time our English text uses fewer characters than some languages such as German and Portuguese. In such a limited area, what happens when it gets too long? Does it push to two lines? Truncate? Expand the area? In this case, we chose to solve the issue through text size and insert fallback behaviors. This is a smaller scenario, but at other times it becomes a larger challenge when there are more factors at play. Text editing toolbar Since this is one of the components that people use the most, we realized that updating and sectioning our icons could go a long way to enhance the user experience. We also changed the behavior of the bar to be more adaptable on multiple screen sizes and devices. The full bar is shown until a user changes their browser size. At this time, each option collapses into a menu that can be accessed by clicking \"More.\" The old design invaded our user’s workspace by pushing their work down, whereas the updated design didn\'t. Active block panels This is the area we focused our efforts on. When we applied UI elements from our newest signup form builders and created any missing ones, it helped with style consistency and gave the panels more breathing room. Beneath the surface, the code was combed through, cleaned up and structured to be more modular and run faster (thanks to our front-end developer!). The second problem was organization and consistency amongst the blocks themselves. If you placed all the block options side by side, the organization was different. Our users were readjusting to each individual block, so we standardized organization across all of them. Our biggest change addressed issues with the amount of options shown at a given time and had impacts on user workflow. Some blocks were getting really bloated and weren’t scalable for the future. So for those blocks, we separated their options into two tabs based on function and then usage level within the tab. The first tab contained options relating to the overall block and the second tab dealt with options relating to the elements within that block. So, what’s next? A lot actually! Our team has been taking baby steps to gain deeper user insights by moving toward the “Jobs-to-be-done” methodology. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend checking out Intercom\'s ebook :) They nicely describe it like this: People buy products and services to get a \'job\' done. The key to success is understanding the real job customers are using your product for. This year is shaping up to be full of new and exciting releases. Hopefully, we’ll be chatting about them along the way! Until we meet again ...