The return of the animated GIF

Forget fancy filters and bold borders, the animated GIF is making a comeback.  Animated Graphics Interchange Format, or animated GIF for short, is a file format comprised of a series of images strung together and looped to create the appearance of animation – or as I like to say, the old school version / inspiration behind Vine and Instagram video.

Animated GIFs provide quick ways to tell an effective story, show off multiple products, or highlight a specific area of your email without having to deal with bulky videos or Flash.

Here are some of our favourite examples:

American Apparel

Sprout Social

Netflix

PINK Nation

Birds Barbershop


Email Client Support
While animated GIFs don’t work everywhere, support across most email clients is exceptional. Animated GIFs work in all webmail clients and most desktop and mobile clients. The main exceptions are newer versions of Microsoft Outlook (2007+), which refuses to animate the GIF and instead displays the first frame of the animation. The same goes for Windows Phone 7. So if you're planning on using an animated GIF, make sure your first frame looks good on it's own and gets your message across. 

Jack Spade

How to create an animated GIF
While there are many tools available for creating GIFs, the go-to application for most designers is Adobe Photoshop. However, if you don’t have Photoshop, I would recommend using an online programme like GIFMaker.me which is free and super easy to use, even for beginners. 

And finally, please DO NOT DO THIS (unless you want to give your subscribers a seizure):

Kenzo






How email marketing can help your business grow...

In this article we take a look at some of the ways email marketing can help your business grow.

Emails are popular.
Nearly 1 in 3 adults use a Smartphone, and among those who took part in an Ofcom survey, the most popular task was sending and receiving emails (89%). With those statistics alone you really shouldn't have an excuse not to be using email marketing for your business. Even if you are just starting up a business, a monthly newsletter is a good way to keep your customers up to date with your products and services.

Instant Reporting.
Once a campaign has been sent out you can instantly look at your reports to see who is opening your campaigns and clicking which links. This can mean right from the start of your campaign your subscribers are reading your campaign and visiting the products and or services that you have recommended to them. Here at NewZapp we now have LIVE! Reporting so you can see what is happening in real time!

Personalised Campaigns.
Another advantage of email marketing is that you can personalise your campaigns to grab the subscriber’s attention. You can start by greeting your subscribers by their name then going on to inserting more personal subscriber data like their location, account number or even the name of the product or service they may have purchased. This can be beneficial if you are welcoming your subscribers or even asking them if their recent purchase was to their liking, or recommending a similar product to accompany their earlier purchase.

Welcome Email.
Sending out a welcome email is a nice way to greet and encourage your subscribers to act on their interest in your company, no matter what time zone they are in. By doing this you can recommend any areas of your website that may be of interest to them, as well as to assure your subscribers that if they should have any problems or questions how they can contact you.

It can boost your sales.
If you already capture customers purchasing data than you can really hit the spot by offering similar products to customers who have already purchased a certain product from you. To do this you would need to have this data exported into an excel file and break up the data according to their purchase. Now you can import each separate purchase into a new group and offer each group a similar product related to their earlier purchase for effective up selling.

Campaigns can be shared via social media sites.
Within your NewZapp email editor you can insert a Twitter Tweet button or a Facebook share button. This will allow your subscribers to share your campaign on Facebook or Twitter - helping to increase the overall reach of your campaign and get your campaign seen by a whole new set of eyes.

You are in control of the design and content.
With our self service email marketing system, you are in control of your design and content. So if you want to promote a new service you provide or that you are offering a discount on your prices you can promote these in your latest email campaign. This is also valuable if you want to contact a select number of customers to offer an upgrade of your service, making sure only a select number of subscribers are sent this deal.

Emails can be scheduled in advance.
Using the NewZapp Email Marketing system you can send your email campaigns out instantly or you could also schedule these for a date and time in the future. This is useful if you are away on holiday or business when your campaign is due to go out. All you would need to do is create your email campaign in advance before you depart, and schedule it to be sent for a date and time while you are away, safe in the knowledge that the campaign will be sent out automatically.

Emails have no shelf life.
If you compare an email campaign to social media status updates, the social media updates will display in the social networks timeline for only so long. An email campaign can sit in an inbox until it is deleted, so should your subscriber be away or busy for a while they can still read your email campaign once they have a spare moment or on their return to work.

Choosing the best font style for your emails

Pick a font, any font, just remember to tell the code which one!Making a choice of font for your emails will probably depend first and foremost on which one(s) you already use for your other communications.

Deciding on a preferred font style for your business is one of those small details which will flow through most of your material, both online and offline.

Keeping logos to one side and concentrating here on information/content text, there are a million and one different font styles to choose from (I should know, I can lose many an hour gazing adoringly at sites like fontsquirrel.com!) but getting tempted to try something unusual and/or quirky can cause headaches down the line.

Any time, any place, any where

Using a web safe font as your text style is thought by many as the best way to ensure that your branded material looks the same whoever is creating it and wherever it's being viewed. eg. whether its being used by your suppliers or your staff, and whether its online on your website, within your email marketing, in everyday email communications, or printed on business cards and brochures etc.

As a reminder, here's our blog re Why we talk about web safe fonts in email

You're never too small to have a brand

"Branding" is one of those terms which often conjures up thoughts of corporate enterprises and multi-nationals, but no matter how small your business or organisation, setting your own guidelines enables you to produce and maintain consistent and professional marketing.

As each piece of material is created (whether its in-house, or promotional material etc) if you keep a level of consistency then your branding will develop, along with your identity and reputation. So even if you are the smallest of businesses, never be embarrassed to tell a supplier if you have preferences you'd like them to keep to.

Alternatively, if a more specific stylised font is your preferred option, then branding guidelines will specify that if this first choice of font isn't available for the medium being used, then digital designers (web, email, or any application online) can use an alternative as a second choice.


Finding the best compromise for your email marketing, if you do use text for your business which isn't on the web safe list


If you have a specific in-house font which you wish to use in your emails, you can either:

  • Go ahead with using the font - but make sure that in the HTML code a web safe back-up font is set, so that if the person opening the email does not have your chosen font installed then there is a "fall-back" so that the email displays real text in the second, similar, choice of font instead. This is quite common practice.
       
    • For example if Calibri (not a web safe font) is set as the first choice font on an email design, then the back-up will usually be set as Arial, followed by Helvetica (a very similar style of font that is installed on MAC and iOS devices), followed by the term "sans-serif". This means that on wherever the email is being viewed, the device/screen will use its default sans serif font.

      In the code you might see: style="font-family: Calibri, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; 
       
    • Designers know which families of fonts work well as back-ups for each other, and will make sure that the back-up is as similar as possible in both size/spacing of letters and according to whether it requires a Serif or San Serif alternative
        
    • In basic terms, the letters on Serif fonts have little feet on them(!) whereas San Serif fonts are plainer and simpler in style.  Serif fonts are often judged to be a more formal style of font.

      Serif font:  N m    the quick brown fox  
      San Serif font: 
      N m     the quick brown fox

  • Use graphics instead of real text - with this method there are no restrictions on how/where the email is being read, the only requirement is that the recipient allows the display of images on their screen.
      
    • There are pro's and con's to using this method. It probably won't cause a big issue if only headings, or occasional pieces of text, are set as graphics but it's not really a good idea for body copy, for a few reasons including: 
        
      • Graphic text is not thought by many to be as comfortable to read on screen as real text. Its not always as sharp and/or scalable for anyone with accessibility settings to make a text size larger.
          
      • You are risking a couple of negative scoring points in terms of how your email might be rated by a spam filter, as a more even balance of text to image ratio is generally favoured..
          
      • For readers of your email that don't automatically allow images to display you're taking a bit of a gamble that your subject line (and maybe an alt tag) will be strong enough to get them to click to display images.
          
      • If creating your own email content, eg. inserting content into a re-usable editable template, then you might not have the resources available for the creation of these graphics, especially at short notice or when copy changes need to be made at last minute.

  • Opt for the middle ground - by using one of an additional list of fonts which are becoming quite widely available, but with a web safe font still set as back-up. 

These are:

Trebuchet MS
Calibri
Lucida Sans
Myriad Pro

You can read more about these additional fonts, and in particular their availability on mobile devices, in the accompanying blog: Font choice on mobile emails


Crafting the perfect subject line

Lets be honest, there’s really no such thing as the perfect subject line - or, if there is, it must be hiding with Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. However, this great infographic from the team at Litmus does a pretty good job at guiding you toward perfection.

Crafting the perfect subject line.

Spring cleaning your database

Spring cleaning is usually meant for the home, but it can also apply to your email marketing. You have spent the last 12 months or so building up and promoting your database, but sadly some subscribers may have now lost interest and have stopped opening or reading your emails.

In this article we look at a few of the ways you can clean up your database and improve your subscriber targeting.

Spelling mistakes
Take time each week to view your recent subscribers and correct any obvious spelling mistakes. For example, seeing an email address like mark@gmmail.com and correcting this to become a @gmail address. Other spelling mistakes in first or last names should also be corrected in case you decide to personalise an email - it wouldn't make a good first impression if this was wrong.

Segment
Split your data up, instead of having one big list containing all your subscribers, break these down into smaller groups. Create a group for previous customers only; you can then exclude these from your next email campaign. With this group of subscribers you can send them a campaign showing a special offer or discount code to use.

Quality counts not quantity
I always advise that it is best to have subscribers on your list who know your business or are previous customers. Don’t add people if they just send an enquiry form through, or if you pick up their business card at a trade show. By the time you email them they won’t have any idea who you are and might be annoyed that you are making unwelcome contact.

What to do with non openers?
An idea would be to add the non openers all to a new group and maybe email them less frequently, say every month rather than every two weeks.

You could even try changing the subject line or the format of the email completely. Some of these subscribers may have been on your list for years receiving the same email with the same content, so dust off those cobwebs and spring clean your email templates!

When you send this email to your non openers, mention the fact that they haven’t read your email in a while and show them what they are missing out on; give them the same information you promised when they signed up.

What next?
OK, so you have fixed any spelling errors, segmented your lists and removed any non openers, now what? Focus on your next email campaigns, plan when you are going to send them out and if you will send different campaigns to each list.

I recommend putting reminders in your calendar for when you plan to send out, have colleagues at hand to proof read and spell check as well as check the links are all correct prior to sending.

Will Yahoo’s changes affect your deliverability?

Yahoo recently changed its authentication policy, and the change could impact delivery of emails that come from yahoo.com addresses. That means if you send a campaign and your From address is a personal address at yahoo.com, there’s an increased chance your emails will go to spam or bounce.

These recent changes to their DMARC (email routing/authentication) policy means that any mail sent from a @yahoo.com address but not routed through Yahoo’s SMTP servers will be rejected by receivers who respect DMARC policies including Gmail, Hotmail, and many others.

With this change, using a yahoo.com From address when sending through an email service provider like NewZapp will make the email look fraudulent, even if it’s not. So if you continue to try to send your emails from a @yahoo.com address your emails will most likely be rejected (bounced).

This change is affecting all ESPs, not just NewZapp. Although we authenticate your messages as being part of our mail network, we cannot authenticate them as part of Yahoo’s mail network.

So if you’re currently using a @yahoo.com email address as your From address we recommend changing this to an email address at a private domain you control, like @joebloggscompany.com.

Welcome or double opt-in emails, which is better?

By setting up a welcome or double opt-in email, you can automatically have NewZapp send an email you have created once someone subscribes. So no matter what time it is or even if you are fast asleep the email will go out once someone subscribes to your email list.

If someone was browsing around your shop wouldn't you ask if there was anything you could help them with or if they were looking for anything in particular? This welcome email is your best opportunity to convert your subscribers into customers, to show them what you can offer them with your products and services.

What is the difference?
A welcome email would be an email sent to the subscriber immediately after they subscribe. This would usually have a thank you message and gives you an opportunity to show them what you have on offer or any areas of your website that would interest them.

The example below is a welcome email I got from Homebase once I had subscribed. Notice that the logo and 2 helping icons at the top to navigate directly to the homepage or to the Store Locator section. The text is in a larger font to stand out, and to thank you for subscribing.

Also they have added a row of bullet points pointing to other areas of the website that might be helpful for a new subscriber, followed by an obvious green button to their website.



A double opt-in email is an email where the subscriber must confirm their subscription in order to be added into the account. This is a great option if you wish to build your database full of confirmed opt-in data. This will reduce the number of invalid email addresses or subscriptions that are made by mistake.

Groupon’s double opt-in email below is a great example as they have asked you to confirm your newsletter subscription twice, once in the header and then in the first line of the email.

They have kept the branding in line with their website as well as making the amount of links in the email minimal and the call to action clear. You just can’t miss the confirmation link, again in a slightly larger font on a bright orange coloured button that just cries “click me….”.


But why should I send a welcome or double opt-in email?
  • It confirms to them that the subscription is complete
  • It’s instant; whether it is 2pm or 4am the subscriber will get the email straight away
  • It gives you a chance to guide them to areas of interest on your website
  • It is like someone physically walking into your shop; a way to greet them and ask if you can help

Give an incentive
Another great idea is to give away something for free like a PDF guide or a discount as an incentive for signing up. So with a welcome email you can create the email to contain the download link for the subscriber to click or show a discount code they can use straight away.

What else can I include in the welcome email?
  • A message to say "Thank You for subscribing"
  • Let them know when they can expect to hear from you
  • Offer a discount code or free shipping for signing up
  • Link to areas of interest on your site, your "sale" items or even blog posts and videos

How to set a welcome or double opt-in email via NewZapp
  • Settings tab
  • Preferences
  • Subscriber sign-up - here you will have the choice of setting a welcome or double opt-in email and be able to select which email campaign you would like to use. Please note you can only select a campaign that has already been sent, even if it's just a test to yourself. 

How to integrate social media into your email marketing

I'm sure many of you already use email and social media to help promote your business. But how many of you integrate your social media and email marketing? Well, here are a few tips to help you do just that - because email marketing and social media should go hand in hand.

Social media icons.
Every single email you send should include social media links or icons. This is the easiest and most common way to link your email marketing activities with your social media marketing efforts. With one click your subscriber will instantly be driven to your social media pages where they can simply ‘like’ or ‘follow’ you.

Social media share buttons.
In addition to encouraging your email recipients to connect with you on social media, you should also be prompting them to share your emails with their own personal social media networks. For this reason your email content needs to be engaging and entertaining so your subscribers will actually want to share it with their friends. Sharing is caring.

Announce upcoming emails via social media.
Use your social media platforms as a way to spread the word about your email and the content they hold. This will help encourage people to subscribe, giving them a sneak peek at what they’re missing out on.

Share links to web based version of your email on your social media pages.
Once you have sent out your email you should be posting the web based link for your campaign on all your social media channels for your fans to see. If they like what they see, chances are they will subscribe so they don’t miss the next one.

Send an email solely asking recipients to connect with you via social media.
Maybe it’s an email telling them about the benefits of following you on Twitter, or one about how much fun they could have if they liked you on Facebook. If you are trying to grow your social media networks, invite your subscribers first!

Use your interactions with fans on social media to help determine email content.
By simply observing what the most popular topics are on your Facebook page, or by asking your fans what they’d like to see in your emails you can tailor the content towards their interests. That way they’ll want to sign up to receive the content that they had a hand in creating or asking for.

Ask for the conversion.
In your emails, ask your recipients to like your social media pages, and on your social media pages, ask fans to subscribe to your email list. The more points of contact you have with your audience, the better.

Let email subscribers know about social media contests or special offers and vice versa.
If you are holding a contest or giveaway on social media, don’t keep it a secret! Send an email to let your subscribers know what they’re missing out on if they don’t connect with you via social media. Or if you have informed your subscribers of a special offer via email make sure you let your social media followers know about it too. You can also tell them in order to be the first to know out about these special offers they need to sign up to your email newsletter.

Reporting for duty


When you send your email out, do you keep a close eye on the report to see who is reading it? Do you analyse your latest campaign and compare this to your previous one? These are just two tips to get you started on improving the open and click through rates of your campaigns.


In this article we are going to focus on our reports section and how you can use this to make the most of your next email marketing campaign.



Compare campaigns

With our Compare Campaigns feature you can compare any of your previous email campaigns in the reports section against each other. This will allow you to review how many clicks each campaign received, as well as compare the open rates. What was the difference in subject line and how did this affect the campaign statistics?

Review

Take a look at the differences between link click rates in your previous email campaigns. What worked? What didn't work? Maybe it's time for a refresh or move some of the links at the bottom to be higher up in the email to get them noticed. What is the goal for this campaign? Make sure your calls to action are clear and as mentioned above – if certain links or articles are not popular consider removing them.

Don’t be anti social

Add Twitter and Facebook share buttons to your email campaigns to allow your recipients to share your email. This can help you get more exposure and increase your overall reach by sharing your email campaigns with their Twitter or Facebook followers. It is also worth placing a forward to friend link in your email so this can also be used if any recipients want to.

I also advise adding links to your own Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts so any of your subscribers can find you on these social network sites to encourage an increase to your followers.

Ask your followers to subscribe

Add a link on your website and in your company email signature asking people to subscribe to email updates from you. Also mirror this on Facebook, Twitter and any other social media websites. Post updates on Facebook and Twitter encouraging traffic to your email subscription page, once or twice a week for a month, to see if this results in any increase to your rate of signups. Then you can see which method works best to encourage new subscribers.

Target non openers

Run a campaign for anyone who has not opened a previous email campaign. Make this campaign unique for these non openers; don’t just resend your previous campaign. Mention that they did not open the campaign and show them what they missed out on, maybe provide them with a discount code or special offer to tempt them.