Tag Archives: email marketing

Nicola Peaty

How to create effective email designs.

By Nicola Peaty

Emails are still one of the many tools in the vast array found within the marketing toolbox. However, like all other marketing channels, emails must be carefully planned and thought-through to stand out among the competing messages and images sent to our inboxes. Recipients have a split second to decide whether to delete, view, click or share. So, you have to know your market, know your brand and be clear on your message in order to get the desired response from your email marketing. Here are some useful tips on what to consider when planning your email design and message together with some illustrative examples. Give Blood: We start with a great example of a striking design that you cannot ignore once you’ve opened this email. Perfectly laid out, your eye is drawn to the focal image and immediately to the call to action to make an appointment. Should you require additional information, there are three neat boxes at the bottom to supplement your needs and give you supportive facts and details. give blood email Apple: Due to the well known brand, Apple can afford to tease with simplicity, minimal branding and yet still attain the objective of a new store opening. All the details you need, albeit few, are present and correct. Clean and effective. apple email ASOS: Now that over half of us our opening emails on mobile devices, it would be madness to avoid tailoring email designs to suit mobile compatibility. See ASOS who have streamlined the images accordingly. Asos_Mobile2 New Look: Calls to actions play a major part in generating a response to emails. If you elect for a link or button, ensure they stand out among the background images. New Look have achieved this so well with two clear buttons for their two audiences. The message is also short but to the point, with the images giving examples of their World Cup clothing. It just shows that you don’t have to include reams of copy to communicate your message. new_look_good-blog-full Stitcher: Inviting interaction is always a clever way of drawing in your email recipient. The Stitcher email has plenty to click on to either listen, watch or even share. Plus they’ve been extra clever by tailoring the content for each recipient so that they feel Stitcher has taken time to select and personalise the email especially for them. Personalisation is key to emails so that recipients don’t feel spammed, so make sure if you include their name, the content must be relevant, otherwise you will lose their trust and interest. stitcher-email-example Cooksmart: This email demonstrates how to present a lot of images and information without cluttering and confusing the recipient. The list of daily recipes is complimented by the supporting images below and invites us to click on one of them to see the details. It also includes extra little links which draw us in to watch a video, download a menu or find out more about a particular ingredient. Plus, the additional calls to action ask us to post on facebook or forward to a friend. The overall design works well together and the clever marketing hooks are all there to entice the viewer. cooksmart-email-example Ballard: This design had to be beautiful in order to reflect well on the brand. Your eye is cleverly drawn down to the final and important call to action with a 10% discount. Simple and yet still effective. ballard email H&M: If you simply have a promotion to push, then H&M shows the bold and direct way to go about a less beautiful, but nonetheless effective, type of design. Two colours, minimal branding, clear message and call to action. Tick, tick, tick and tick! h_m_good-blog-full

How to grow your business with social media

Nicola Peaty

Common email marketing mistakes

By Nicola Peaty

email-marketing-mistakesWe all log into our email accounts expecting to delete a load of irrelevant and annoying emails before we get to the ones that catch our eye and are of genuine interest. Those types of emails we will take the time to open and read and maybe save for later or click through for more information.

So email marketing can work and should not be ignored as an important marketing channel. Just try and avoid some of the common email marketing mistakes which will get you unsubscribed before you even started…….

Opt-ins only: Make sure you have built your database list of email contacts through consented permission, which has explicitly explained the purpose to the contact and managed their expectations as to what they will receive as a consequence giving their email address. It will save a lot of unnecessary bother plus time and effort in sending them a beautifully crafted email, only for them to immediately unsubscribe. Plus, make sure that you include opt-out and unsubscribe options, as everyone should be entitled and surely you only want to target those who actually want to receive your marketing information.

Test and check: You cannot test and check your emails enough. This means on the various devices now available including mobile. The appearance will look very different to how you want it to if you have not considered the interfaces displaying your emails. Chose text or html where applicable for your audience. And do A/B tests to assess the best results of various options, such as offers and CTAs.

Timing: You should research and find out when the best time of day and day of the week your customers will be most receptive to opening and reading your emails. It may be better in the evenings for some or Fridays depending on the type of content. Also, consider the frequency. Too often could get you unsubscribed, too little will leave you forgotten.

Relevance: Segment your customers and target relevant messages to their relevant segment. By sending the right information customers will appreciate the email and build that brand affinity. The more personalised you can make the email the better so that they feel you are really talking to them as an individual and that will help build a closer customer relationship. Keep your database up-to-date at all times so that any intelligence is captured and can aid the significance and power of your email marketing.

Track response: There’s little point in any marketing unless you monitor its performance. At least email marketing can be tracked with open rates, click throughs and like it or not unsubscribes. Therefore, you have no excuse not to track the response of your email campaigns to assess what is working and perhaps areas you need to improve. This links back to the A/B testing to give that comparison and try various options. CTAs (calls to action) are essential to give the email purpose, so ensure you have included either a link to a landing page, an email address, a concise enquiry form or a telephone number for a specific contact. All of which should be traced back to the email which generated the response. Include a promotional code to quote if necessary, but just make sure you have the optimum analysis to assess the email’s ROI.


Subject line: We all know the words which we avoid in a subject line and delete the email as a direct consequence. Spam filters do the same. So don’t use the obvious buzzwords like ‘Free’, ‘Special offer’ or ‘Per cent discount’. Be concise but be clear, this is no time to be ambiguous as you’re fighting for a split second of attention. Hit them with relevant words that you know is of real interest to the customers.

Blocked images: Some recipients will have disabled their images, which means you have to rely on them to download images if they want to view them. This could significantly affect your whole email campaign and lose the purpose and message of your communication. Again, this goes back to test and checking your emails and having a plan B option so that you are not denied the full impact of your email.

When to share: What’s important to your customer may not always be the same as to what’s important to your company. Only share information via email when it’s of 100% value to the end user. There may be other channels such as social media which are more appropriate for certain messages. A new product launch is important and can be justified via email. Joe Bloggs in Sales getting married may be more suited to Facebook.


Nicola Peaty

How to market small businesses on a budget.

By Nicola Peaty

budget recession, deficitGone are the days of expensive advertising and glossy brochures for most marketing budgets. The positive spin is that we have been forced to think cleverly about how to target customers which can then produce more effective results and without incurring large invoices. Quite often it is the time, thought and effort that is more important than the amount of money spent.

Below are our suggestions for low cost marketing ideas which can be selected according to your specific needs or as a collective campaign.

1. Content. What else? We’ve discussed and explained the benefits of content in our other blogs. Quite simply, it can be free if you or a colleague can write content and it can give customers so much added value and position you as the expert in your field. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/how-to-write-content-for-your-audience/

2. Social media. No surprise. Again if you’re in charge then it’s your time and no cost. Try to co-ordinate across the various platforms and encourage your biggest ‘fans’ to share and interact. See our related blogs on the various social media platforms; http://www.vgandassociates.com/facebook-as-a-marketing-tool-for-your-business/     http://www.vgandassociates.com/the-dos-and-donts-when-using-linkedin-to-market-your-business/     http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-on-how-to-use-twitter-for-your-business/    http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-on-how-pinterest-can-work-for-your-business/

3. Website. To be honest, any business these days can’t really exist without a website. It’s the first place people go to check out your ‘existence’ and credibility. All social media should link back to the website and your content updated to give Google fresh ammunition to drive traffic to your site. But it does not have to cost the earth. Keep it simple and easy to navigate. Make sure your proposition is understood and obvious. Good clear branding is essential so that customers know and remember you. Include clear calls to action and a response mechanism. Then you’re good to go. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/creating-an-effective-website/

4. Video. You don’t have to be Stephen Spielberg (or have his budget) to produce something which conveys your message in a simple but effective video. People are visual and love watching and listening more than reading copious amounts of words, so keep it short, to the point and interesting. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/using-video-for-marketing/

5. Infographics. Depending on your design capability as to whether you pay for these or not, infographics are so useful when communicating key points and messages to your audience. Whether it’s a specific explanation about something technical or an overview of a product, they help convey visually so customers understand quickly what you are aiming to put across. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/infographics-explained-with-a-little-help-from-some-infographics/

6. Database. Make sure that you have all your contact data in order so that it’s in the most effective state for your target marketing. If you have missing data, then fill in the gaps. Analyse the data so that you know exactly who are your most lucrative customers and who are your hottest leads. With your database ready to go, then you are in a much better position to ‘hit’ the right people with the right message.

7. Loyalty. If you find out from your database that you have a selection of loyal customers, then consider reward schemes and loyalty cards. Also, tap into these loyal customers to refer friends and give testimonials. You can even use them as successful case studies to demonstrate how your company works and get good results.

8. Networking. Mingle with the right people at the right events and it could be worth your while. Know who you want to meet and what you want to say before you go along or it could be a total waste of time. Be prepared with business cards and make sure you collect cards from useful contacts and then follow them up post event. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-for-successful-networking/

9. Host your own event. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate as long as the purpose and/or content pulls people in. Seminars with good content and no oversell will position you well. Customers are more likely to come for the content and as a result follow up with enquiries.

10. Email marketing. As long as your database is complete and up-to-date, then email marketing can be low cost and effective. Targeting the right customers or leads with the relevant message will produce the best results. Email can be used for promotions, feedback, competitions and even surveys. Design and delivery is dependent on your in-house capability and resource but in no way has to be expensive if you need to outsource. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/common-email-marketing-mistakes/

11. PR. Write a press release about your business or product/service, giving it as much unique individuality and then circulate to all local media. You never know you could strike lucky and one of the local press or websites will choose it as it relates to other content or they are in need of some local business information and news. Or, offer to write for a trade magazine or website that relates to your business giving your expert view, opinion or market update. This will certainly give you credibility and exposure. See our related blog: http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-writing-a-press-release/

12. Related partnerships. Working with complimentary and non-competitive companies can have a mutual benefit. It gives you exposure to other customers and allows cross-promotion. By each company referring the other, you can only stand as a win win.

13. Business cards. We may no longer need glossy brochures and can afford elaborate literature, but the basic business card is one essential that any company still needs. They are functional and can be distributed throughout your company to give out to useful contacts in the field. Make sure they are fit for purpose, include all important details including website/contact numbers and have clear branding with strapline if applicable. Don’t overcrowd the card. If you have more information to include, then you may require a postcard or flyer to supplement the card.

14. Go local. Maximise what is on your doorstep. Use your local community and contacts. Do you have local social media and press you can use to promote your company? Are there local events, trade fairs, community gatherings and business groups you can tap into and take a stand or just network? Consider where your target customers may go in and around the area and hand out flyers in these places for them to find and pick up such as shopping centres, the library, leisure centres etc.

15. Try before you buy. Some people just need a little trial or taster before they commit to a purchase. An easy idea is to offer a small freebie or discount coupon. Everyone likes a bargain and if it persuades the customer and as a result they like your product, then you may have a new sale.