Time is money – save time creating emails…

We want to make creating product based emails as simple as possible. The goal is to eliminate copying, pasting and editing of product information – just use the data that already exists in the store catalog.

Working with clients, we’ve been refining the product id email solution that we built within the Salesforce Marketing Cloud (ExactTarget). To create an email, clients start with a simple template, write some offer copy and list product ids that they want to feature.  The system then inserts whatever product data chosen (name, images, and prices with links are the most common) automatically.  Emails that used to take 30 minutes or more now take 5-10.

It saves a lot of time and tedium.  It makes creating segmented emails much more feasible. Rather than struggling to create one email, someone can make 3-4 emails in the same amount of time!

The latest enhancements include better error messages, responsive product layouts and more product layouts. Previously if a product id had a typo or the product wasn’t in the catalog, the error messages were cryptic or the email would create and simply show blank content areas. Now, a message describing the issue appears. Prior to this latest round of enhancements certain layouts worked really well in mobile displays and others did not. The latest product layouts all contain the necessary code to display properly in mobile devices.

Finally, clients really wanted more options for laying out the products. Below you will find the layouts that are “standard”. Note that whatever product information in the store can be displayed but most opt for keeping it simple and clean.

Two column inline
1 column inline with 3 products

The two column inline layout is great for a few products and to show more product information. Inline refers to the layout where the image is next to the text data such as name, description, price and the buy now button.

One column stacked
1 column stacked with two products

Also a great option for just a few products, one column stacked, “stacks” all the elements of a products.

Two column stacked
2 column stacked

Just like the one column stacked, the product info is all in one stack. The key is that this layout is better for even number product display and can be used to make 4, 6, 8 or more product arrays.

Three column stacked
3 column stacked

Another stacked option, three columns each have stacked product information. The 3 column stacked is great for featuring many products as it can be used to feature 3, 6, 9, 12 or more product arrays. Great for displaying “what’s new” or a category based email.

Simplifying and automating the whole email process while giving the marketer ultimate control is one of our goals. We’ll continue to enhance this function and keep you up to date.

Top Right’s 2016 Email Marketing Wishlist

2016 email marketing wish list

What’s on your wish list for 2016?

I came up with a wish list for 2016. It has the things Top Right would like to work on with our clients.

This post started out as a roundup of email marketing trends and predictions for 2016. But there are a bunch of really good ones out there. And, honestly, I am not too worried about email marketing in general. I keep an eye on deliverability and the macro stuff because I need to be abreast of that for client success. But mostly I worry about my clients.  I try to focus on things that Top Right can do with clients to move the needle for their business.

With that said, if you are looking for email marketing trends for 2016, there’s a list of good posts at the end of this article.

So, on to my wish list.

1. Make email a differentiator.
Anecdotally, I can tell you that the clients who focus on engagement, targeting and measuring the impact of their email programs have seen their growth continue in double digits. Clients who follow the batch and blast mentality – not so much. I’d like to think that email caused their growth. I know that the clients are following guidance that helps them perform better. It’s likely they follow that same level of guidance in their other marketing channels as well.

My wish is that clients make email a differentiator. It can help drive results on conversions of new customers (think about reducing cost per acquisition!). It can help spur near term profits by driving 2nd and 3rd purchases. It can help grow the business unexpectedly by re-activating older customers/subscribers.

2. Use data for more than segmentation.
Everyone has heard the case for segmentation and personalization: drive higher responses, increase lifetime value, reduce spam complaints and promote list growth. I don’t have much to add to that. Segmentation and personalization are as important as ever.

However, my wish is that we look beyond simply segmenting and we use all the data we have at our disposal for those aims and more. How about using data to save time, increase the amount of segmentation you can do, and get new customers?!

We have some progress to note there. In the latter part of 2015, Top Right worked with a number of clients to use product data in ways that we hadn’t before. They created product based emails in minutes with no copying and pasting of assets – simply uploading (or typing) a list of products to be featured in an email and the program does the rest. Each client has its own template… It’s improved efficiency, giving the marketer control over merchandising without having to involve a designer. The more emails you make, the more segments you can hit. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The data is there to automatically create best sellers, new items, back in stocks, anything you can think of.

Top Right has also seen the beginnings of the ROI associated with using email activity data on social (primarily Facebook). Viv, the long time customer support star of Top Right, ran some interesting tests for clients in August. The lift wasn’t in the Facebook ad results but in the email programs themselves (Atee20’s Multi-Channel A/B Test Part 1 & Atee20’s Multi-Channel A/B Test Part 2).  A client who is one of the great tinkerers on the Yahoo! store platform concluded – >>> we need to focus our ad dollars on folks engaged in emails <<<.

3. Get up to date with mobile & social.
For every claim that email is dead, there’s another claim that there’s no ROI on social or mobile. Sure, we’re still figuring out how to measure social and mobile ROI effectively. And, the increasing number of people reading email on mobile devices changes our expectations for email performance. That doesn’t mean we just stand still.

Top Right worked with a lot of clients in 2015 to get their email creative mobile friendly. We’ve started to see that there is definitely a way to mix the data from email to social. We need to continue that progress.

My wish here is simple – to help clients understand why large companies like Salesforce, IBM and Oracle bought email marketing companies. Email and it’s inherent tie-ins with data are the cornerstone of digital marketing. We should be using email and the data we gather to drive engagement on mobile and social, however possible.

My final wish is that everyone has a great 2016!

I have to admit that I drew inspiration from some really good 2016 email marketing trends and predictions posts on the web. Here are some that stood out:

5 Predictions for Email in 2016 – A top 5 email predictions from Email on Acid (helps with both rendering and inbox placement). The first 3 predictions are especially helpful if you are looking for design oriented highlights.

Four Email Marketing Trends We’ll See Before 2016 Hits – Probably the most practical list in the roundup that I scanned. I like this because it covers elements that are in place now that will continue to grow. Definitely a worthwhile read for things that work now and will continue to work in 2016.

Email Marketing trends 2016 – As Tim Watson, the writer says, “4 trends Email marketers need to stay on top of in 2016 and one trend you might decide to let pass you by this year…”. Read on! Highlights that innovation for innovation’s sake is not always a clear winner.