“Social media is the most disruptive form of communication humankind has seen since the last disruptive form of communication, email,” says Ryan Holmes, founder of Hootsuite. And these days, with so many ways to communicate with your customers, it's easy to forget that email is still an important part of the mix.
Emails are seen as less sexy than other forms of e-marketing, but that's because people haven't kept up with more modern trends and designs. If done correctly, emails can be highly personalised, direct ways of marketing your brand, and creating brand loyalty. And most importantly, they can be read on a mobile device (and very often are).
Almost everyone these days has an email address. And in the office, checking mail has become inescapable. In fact, one study suggests that 28% of the work week – 13 hours – are spent reading and answering mail.
I like to check my personal mail in the morning before I get started with my day (like many others, I'm sure). This is where I see all manner of email newsletters: the good the bad, and the designed-in-the-nineties-by-the-intern.
To be fair, the bad ones are usually from local companies that probably don't (or won't) put aside any of their budget for e-marketing, and utilise a free service like GraphicMail. But between the stretched images, SHOUTING AT ME IN CAPSLOCK and no spellcheck, it has earned them a swift ‘Unsubscribe’.
One the other hand, I enjoy receiving my First Thing mail from The Daily Maverick, as well keeping up all the latest Internet news via Netted by the Webbys (I have no recollection of signing up to this mail, but it turned out to be a good thing). Gmail users have the option of a tabbed inbox now, meaning that anything deemed promotional never gets mixed up with your personal stuff. It keeps your inbox tidier, but for marketers, it's arguably harder to grab readers' attention.
I try and think about my personal reaction to my own mailer subscriptions when advising Flow clients. Keeping it short and simple, having clear calls to action, and making sure the design is clean and modern might be seem obvious, but are crucial pointers to remember. Also, I have to agree with everything on this list of 6 Dos and Don’ts to Improve Your Email Newsletters – it's great. Others are following the Buzzfeed format, which also has its advantages.
Responsive design is something we talk about more and more when it comes to website design, but remember that it applies to emails too. With so many people checking their mails on their phone, a responsive design ensures that your newsletter looks good on any size screen. Here are 35 great examples you can buy (or you know, give Flow a call).
In short – don't give up on emails just yet. But please, for the sake of your customers' morning reading routine, make them pleasant to look at, and easy to read.