Part 2 – Unveiling the Layers of a Digital Experience
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” — Jeff Bezos
Having reviewed the Importance of Customer Experience in Part 1 of this series, Part 2 will aim to dissect the most important building blocks of a winning email experience.
With round-the-clock availability of omnipresent connections driven by the internet, a “digital experience” has taken form as a major component of “customer experience”. No matter the touch point, people are always online, and as these touch points increase, so do customer expectations. The art of Engagement Marketing affords the prime opportunity to engage, influence and dictate what a customer’s experience will feel like.
Email Marketing rests on the golden trifecta: PERMISSION, TRUST and ENGAGEMENT. It’s all about making the right connection with your customers in shaping their behavior towards and perception of your brand.
To keep your customers engaged, it takes a conscious commitment and strategic deployment of marketing tools to capitalize and deliver on those digital experiences. Below, we have laid out the elements of an email optimized for the ultimate digital experience.
A Headline is the first introduction of the nature of the message within the email. The Headline is mainly comprised of the Sender Name, Subject Line and Preview Pane. The format of the Headline may vary slightly depending on the device used to access your email, but the its roll in introduction remains the same.
The Headline is one of the first things your audience will see and judge you on. Thus, it is absolutely vital that it be clear, concise and have a built in persuasion factor to get your audience to open it and begin engaging.
The Subject Line, in a few words, lays out what the email will be about. The style of the Subject Line can be made all your own, but there are certainly some useful tips and tricks to incorporate in its design. You can try posing a question to invoke a thought in your reader, or appeal to your audience’s five senses where it applies.
A more sophisticated approach that really lends itself to Engagement Marketing is the notion of dynamic personalized Subject Lines, wherein for any given email, the subject line changes based on a subscriber’s interests and behavior.
The planning of your overall Headline should also account for an optimized Preview Pane, which is yet another initial opportunity to make sure that it reflects the true preview of the content within the email.
For example, if the Subject Line poses a question, the preview line may suggest the answer. Generally, email previews that are NOT optimized miss out on prime inbox “real estate” so to say…
Here is a perfect example of a well thought out Headline with email Preview Pane from moo.com:
Now let’s compare to an ineffective preview pane by Equinox:
The moo.com email preview clearly states the purpose of the email and relates details to the specific “24 hour time crunch”. The Equinox email preview misses a great opportunity to elaborate on the special “initiation” deal by ignoring this valuable “real estate” in the inbox.
CALL TO ACTION or CTA
A CTA gently nudges your audience towards doing something – whether that may be clicking a link or button, buying a product, downloading an ebook, etc. It generally includes short directional commands such as: “Buy Now”, “Sign Up today”, “Download Now”…
One of the most compelling motivators to stir action is an appeal to the sense of fleeting urgency… And by urgency we mean the timing of things, missing out on a deal, the last few hours, an exclusive opportunity that’s time-sensitive, etc.
Similar to the idea of the Headline, the CTA must also remain concise and to the point. Keep your content easy to scan. The message within should have a singular objective to steer the ship in the direction of the ocean currents you have set in motion. In other words, to motivate your audience to take the action you intend for them to take.
In the Fandango email they clearly want you to buy tickets to the new Lego movie now. It’s likely that given my previous family movie purchase via Fandango, they are sending me a relevant upcoming new movie.
In the Spotify campaign, they clearly state what the email is about – the chance to download the Pacemaker mixing app- and what they want you to do – to actually click on the enticing green button and download the app. This campaign is well thought out, in that it not only is clear and concise but also appeals to the sense of timing and urgency with its exclusive opportunity pitch to Spotify Premium Users.
The good ol’ saying, “Keep it Simple Stupid” or KISS is the perfect embodiment of an effective CTA. Your call to action should not be too complex in direction, meaning pick one thing and run with it. The more clear it is, the more effective the results.
Content is the meat of your email, the experience you design for your recipients. Content must be value-adding, with useful media and personalized to the right target audience. Successful emails are often conversational, un-intimidating in their welcoming tone and speaking with their audience, as opposed to barking at them. You should encourage feedback and replies as a device to open a medium of a two-way dialogue.
Generally content includes the use of images as part of it’s message. It goes without saying that high resolution good quality images should be used, but be mindful of too many images or overcrowding your design. Effective content perfects the balance between text and images, wherein neither portion may be top heavy. It is preferable to generally have one feature piece of imagery surrounded by several smaller supplemental content triggers or buttons, and where it applies – less is more!
Another facet to content is the presentation of its form by way of color schemes, font selections and overall branding. Preserve a sense of consistency throughout your email campaigns. That means that each of your emails should look recognizable to your audience, be it your brand colors, logo, tone of communication, etc.
Consistency is an underused tool to achieve engagement an air of predictability renders trustworthiness which is one of the main cores engagement marketing hinges upon.
In the 3 examples from Shutterfly below, you can see how they maintain the consistency of their brand via a clean streamlined look with a cheery feel. You can easily apply this same methodology and create cohesive emails that look and feel more like a recognizable and trustworthy brand.
Your audience has a certain expectation of what they wish to hear and receive from you. To keep your audience enticed, it is encouraged to ascribe to the well-recognized marketing doctrine of “Educate, Don’t Sell.” These days, most consumers are sophisticated about advertisements, so it is vital that your content offers a genuine point of interest to the reader.
A helpful hint is to speak with your audience, have a conversation and write “about” them. As a popular 3:1 Rule of Thumb, for every 3 “non-salesy” emails you send, send 1 to monetize on.
In order for you to meet these expectations, you must use the tools at your fingertips to design and deliver relevant content. These advanced tools, once only available to enterprise level companies, are now made readily available through platforms such as EverEngage. EverEngage allows quick real-time access to data and past behavior analysis in a smart, yet extremely simple to use format.
Here are the leading tools for relevancy:
Segmentation is the isolation of portions of your overall email list based on threads of commonalities specific to the email you want to send. By employing list Segmentation where it applies, you can send to only those to whom the email is truly relevant and would likely benefit from most.
A pivotal aspect of delivering relevant content is successful list Segmentation and not “trying to fit a square handle into a round hole”.
2. Dynamic Content
Dynamic Content allows for the creation of email content that is personal, interesting, and specific to the recipient. The larger take-away is that the content in the email will vary from one recipient to the next, optimizing the opportunity to spark interest and engage. Without writing a single line of code, you will be able to create Dynamic Content using the EverEngage email editor.
You can also use the personal preferences and areas of interest obtained from your subscriber to deliver better content. Quora does an excellent job of delivering customized emails based on my personal preferences and “likes”. I never get anything in my Quora weekly digest that I’m genuinely not curious to glance at.
Timing is everything… What good is great content if it fails to be seen by your subscriber. So sending the right content to the right person at the right time can be everything. Sometimes timing may be just as important as the content itself. The upshot of timing is that your message will arrive at the prime time that your recipient will likely check their email. With the use of Send-Time Optimization, you can personalize the experience even further by delivering the content they want to get at the time they want to see it.
4. Email Personalization
Email Personalization helps your content appear and “feel” more personable, and in turn, relevant to your subscriber. There are numerous techniques in which you can personalize your emails, including the use of a client’s first name in the email or subject line. But, as readerships evolve and advance, the inclusion of a first name isn’t making the cut anymore! Personalization should be done more so in a meaningful way.
Personalization techniques extend into the actual email body, wherein interchangeable data-driven blocks of content, captions or imagery may be selected for inclusion based on gender, geographic affinity or interests.
You can see how Barnes & Noble has personalized a birthday email offer by using multiple techniques including a Personalized Subject Line and Dynamic Content.
Send emails to your audience based on what actions they perform or don’t. Based on their behavior on your site such as specific items your subscriber may have looked at, you may want to point out that a viewed item may soon be out of stock and prompt a purchase. Other times, the actions that are NOT taken may be just as important as the obvious actions taken – the classic scenario of reading in between the lines.
Let’s look at one of Wistia’s on-boarding emails as an example on how to properly enhance user experience through education on getting the most out of their service. This email was most likely triggered by my having subscribed to their services, but having yet to upload a video…
Let’s take a look at another popular use of event-based triggered emails set in motion by Abandoned Shopping Carts. Why not send an email an hour or two after they abandon their cart?
The Fab example below, effectively points out the item that I added to my cart and did not purchase with a picture of the product as a refresher, the purchase price and a convenient Call to Action to “Buy Now”.
Now as a last bit of advise, always take a moment to digest the results and use the metrics to send better emails. Find ways to measure how the experience you’ve designed is being received. Better emails mean more engagement, happier subscribers and a happier you.
Coming up in Part 3 of this series, we will define Engagement Marketing and help you see its powerful role in enriching customer digital experiences.
The Art of Engagement Marketing