With Becs Rivett-Kemm
Written by Franco Varriano.
Last week’s Marketing Chat with Craig Cherlet was a great one, we talked about Marketing Strategy and how entrepreneurs can implement a strategy from day 1 to improve the odds of success.
We’re happy to chat with Becs Rivett-Kemm this week. Becs is an experienced email marketer with more than 8 years of experience and, according to her twitter page, advocate of naps & nice typefaces. Her current pinned tweet says: “When I see badly designed email from an email marketing company…”. She joins us on the Marketing Chat series to talk about email design.
2. The Interview
Ned: Thank you for joining us Becs. Before we dive into the topic, can you please tell us about how and why did you become an email marketer?
Becs: It really happened by accident. During my placement year at uni I worked as a marketer for an HDD storage solutions company. My boss wanted to share topical industry articles with our colleagues and I wanted to make them pretty with html. I ended up build a proprietary newsletter application in classic ASP to send out newsletters to Outlook group lists!
That taught me some basic email knowledge; essentially what you can and can’t do, then I went on to develop those in an eCommerce role in my next job. My boss there realized I was good at it and encouraged me to pursue email, so I’ve done it ever since.
Ned: Your work has a strong emphasis on beautiful design. What do you think of the quote: “ Good art is taste. Good design is an opinion”?
Becs: Actually I’d disagree. there’s a great quote by Joe Sparano: “Good design is obvious, great design is transparent”. We all know when something is badly designed because it doesn’t function or perform as well as it should. It’s about finding the balance between something beautiful and functional.
Ned: Can you give us an email design 101 that every email marketers can implement today to design better emails?
Becs: Actually I have a great tip I learned at an email event a couple of years ago from Henneke Duistermaat which really stood out to me: Stop writing about what you’re going to do for the customer (e.g. referring to “we will send you coupons”) and put the emphasis on the recipient. Start using “you” (e.g. You can enjoy free coupons). Otherwise is really does feel like the marketing engine is just churning out message that don’t care about the recipient’s wants and needs, you only want them to listen to what you have to say.
Ned: We usually advise our readers to send customers relevant content for better results. How does good design impact email marketing ROI?
Becs: It has a huge impact. For eCommece emails, ensuring that an email is usable is ultimately the difference between a making a sale or not. Providing clear calls to action – like buttons – is also key. A good design is simple and effective – is it clear to the subscriber what you want them to do? Are you confusing them with too many messages? If the answer is yes, then you need to rethink your strategy.
Ned: It usually takes a lot to impress designers. Can you share some companies that created email designs that took your breath away?
Becs: I love human.co’s weekly reviews. They use your data in great ways.
One of my ultimate favourites is Fy. Folksy’s is pretty because it’s so image heavy – they use colour to their advantage. Photojojo’s have great type and illustrations with simple messages and calls to action. Finally, Virgin Trains East Coast are always well branded and fun considering train travel is boring. I love everything about them, particularly their good and inventive design and clear copy.
Ned: Two weeks ago, we wrote about the Power of the GIFs in email. What is your take on GIFs in email?
Becs: I love gifs in emails. As long as they’re appropriate for the brand/email and you don’t overuse them. A great example of one I did for an old company and I don’t see too frequently: Using a gif as preview to a video! Also, I’ve seen a few companies overlook the issue of only seeing the first frame in Outlook so you get a half baked animation without the key message.
Ned: Do you consider subject lines as part of the design? If so, do you have a tip for subject lines design?
Becs: I do think it’s part of it, but it’s more of a writer’s thing. It needs to be relevant to the content, even if you’re going for a mysterious subject. My tip is always to write at least three or four different subject lines out and ask someone else’s opinion.
Of course, if you can A/B test that makes a huge difference, but you should always decide what the criteria for a winning subject line is beforehand – sales, clicks or opens? Because if you use a mysterious subject line, you might get more opens, but once the email is opened and the nature of the email is revealed, you might get lower clicks compared to laying it on the (subject) line.
Ned: Your work isn’t limited to email design. Can you describe the full range of services you offer?
Becs: I offer a full service – more recently I’ve been working with a client to fully implement the Mailchimp API to work with their SaaS product and create personalized triggered emails based on the user’s interactions with the products. I’m proud of that.
My aim is to prevent a long term reliance on me for account management – I don’t want to copy and paste content into a newsletter. I train people how to get better at email marketing and how to do things for themselves. It’s more rewarding that way and I love seeing their progression as each newsletter arrives in my inbox.
Ned: If you had one message to share with the email marketing ecosystem, what would it be?
Becs: Encourage your peers, help the next generation learn about emails and share your code. I know I wouldn’t be anywhere without the great interaction on Twitter via #emailgeeks. I’ve made some awesome friends from attending events like Litmus Conferences too.
Ned: You’ve been in the industry for more than 8 years. If you could wave a magic wand and create the perfect email marketing software to make your life easy. How would you describe your invention?
Becs: Well that’s hard! Most ESP’s have a killer feature. If I could make an ultimate Transformer-style ESP, I’d combine Mailchimp’s UI and API, with Campaign Monitor’s template building abilities, CheetahMail’s segmentation and reporting tools and Get Response’s automation abilities!
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