Category - Email Development

Getting More Out of Knak: 59+ Emails that Build Your Brand

 

Automated emails are a Marketer’s best friend, but they’re also widely used by other departments. Some of our most forward thinking Marketo, Eloqua, SFMC, Adobe Campaign and Pardot customers have told us that they’re starting to set up more and more use cases for departments outside of Marketing, with Sales, Customer Success, Support, and HR getting on board.

It makes perfect sense to us. We’re all about getting stuff done with existing technology without spending more money, so we love to see teams leverage their MarTech stack to benefit other departments.

The thing that has us worried however, is that the email landscape outside of marketing tends to be a bit like the wild, wild west. It’s every email for itself, and all those beautiful brand guardrails that Marketing collaborated (fought?) over go right out the window.

We’re committed to helping organizations create on-brand emails that look amazing no matter who sends them, so whenever we see a plain text, unbranded email with barely a recognizable header in sight, a piece of our brand-loving heart dies.

Here’s an insider tip, straight from Knak to you: when you use an enterprise email creation platform like Knak, every email, from every department, can look just as good as your marketing campaigns.

The modules you build with your branded headers, footer, fonts, colours, etc can be used by any department, so emails can easily be built and shared using Knak and then sent by your other automation platforms.

This is great news for SMBs because it means that consistent branding is a piece of cake. It’s great news for enterprises because it means that brand controls remain in place across decentralized teams and locations.

The possibilities are really widespread, so we’ve compiled a list of 59 emails that can be easily built, well-branded, and leveraged into your automation platforms, saving time across departments and keeping your brand at the center of all your messaging.

Introductory Emails

  • Thank you – thanks for signing up for our newsletter/taking a survey/etc.
  • Welcome – welcome to your subscription; we’re glad you’re here!
  • Get to know us – here’s a little about us and who to contact if you need help.
  • Tell us more – let us know your position/birthday/industry, etc.
  • Almost there – you almost requested a demo/started a trial/downloaded an ebook. Take the next step and finish the job.
  • Opt in confirmation – we’re so glad you want to hear from us.

Transactional Emails

  • Transaction confirmation (receipt)
  • Shipping confirmation
  • Tracking update
  • Backorder notification/replenishment
  • Cart abandonment
  • Price drop
  • Wish list reminder

Content-related Emails

  • Blog updates – we have a new post!
  • Content follow up – you downloaded this, so we thought you might like that.

Community Building Emails

  • Tell us more – what kind of content are you interested in? What are your pain points?
  • Join the community – follow us on social media and get to know our brand(s).
  • Download our app – don’t miss out on new products/discounts/insider info.
  • Review – do you love what you bought? We want to know.
  • Testimonials – you’ve been using our product for X months/completed your X project. Care to tell us how it’s going?
  • Referral – tell your colleagues about us, get a discount/credit/etc.

Selling Emails

  • Best rated products – check out the products our customers love most.
  • Product recommendations – since you purchased this, we think you’ll love that.
  • Need more? – are you running out of that product you purchased six weeks ago? Get more here.
  • Upselling – here’s what you’ll gain by taking your subscription to the next level.
  • Top of mind campaign – here are some recent reviews/updates/milestones/events you should know about.

Invitation Emails

  • Webinar invites – we’re hosting a webinar; here’s why you shouldn’t miss it.
  • Event invites* – our event is going to be amazing; please come!
  • Event reminders – our event is tonight/tomorrow/next week. Can’t wait to see you!
  • Post event follow up – thanks for coming. Now check out this related content.

*For more on creating killer event invites, check out our How Knak Does Email post.

Your Account Emails

  • User activity update – check out how many projects you’ve completed/how much you’ve exercised, traveled, written, etc. Way to go!
  • Loyalty points update – you have X points and they expire on X; you’re almost at the next level.
  • Campaign summary – we’re working towards X, and here’s how it’s going. Please join us before it’s too late!

Account Maintenance Emails

  • Account expiring soon – your subscription will be renewed soon; see your options here.
  • Discount expiring soon – want to save $$? Use your discount by this date!
  • Bday/anniversary emails – a gift from us to you.
  • Thanks for trying us out – thanks for completing a free trial. Here’s a final discount offer.
  • Reactivation emails – we miss you! Can we still keep in touch?
  • Goodbye – thanks for being our customer. We appreciate you, and we hope you’ll be back.

HR Emails

  • Application receipt confirmation
  • Candidate screenings needed
  • Employee onboarding
  • Password setup
  • Email signature setup
  • Quarterly newsletters
  • Employee satisfaction surveys/feedback
  • Referral programs
  • Birthday messages
  • Expense requests

Supply Chain Emails

  • Vendor onboarding
  • Targeted messaging
  • Pricing/invoicing
  • Order fulfillment
  • Inventory updates
  • Shipping/tracking notifications

Sales Emails

  • Sales sequences
  • Demo scheduling/confirmation
  • Thank you/follow up
  • Feedback request

Not every email needs marketing campaign-level design, but even making sure that headers, footers, fonts, and colours are consistent across departments can go a long way towards solidifying your brand identity and delivering consistent branding.

Use the capabilities you’ve already got in Knak, and deliver beautiful, on-brand emails – from Marketing to HR, Sales to Customer Success – every time.

Want to learn more about extending that marketing campaign magic beyond the Marketing department? Let’s chat!

How Knak Does Email: Creating An Event Invitation Campaign

a graphic of the las vegas skyline

If you’re hosting an event, say, a cocktail party, dinner, after work mixer, even a webinar, you’re going to want people to be there.

How do you make that happen? You create an invitation campaign.

Invitations need to hit the right balance of design and function. Yes, you want it to look great, but you also need to make it easy for readers to find the relevant info. No one should have to click through an email to find out when and where your event is.

We were planning to host a couple of incredible events at Adobe Summit this year. We had a party planned with a couple of our partners at minus5° Ice Experience, as well as a more intimate event scheduled with our clients. Unfortunately, our plans – and the entire conference – were cancelled by health concerns. But since we’re not “wait until the last minute” people, our invitations have already been created.

And since we’re not using them for anything else, we wanted to share them with you. Check out the method behind our invitation campaign along with some best practices for creating your own.

Here’s what’s in our campaign:

  • The initial invitation
  • Two landing pages: one for a “Yes” RSVP and one for a “No”
  • A confirmation page for “Yes” RSVPs
  • A last chance reminder for those that haven’t responded yet
  • A day-of reminder
  • A thank you/follow up message

Best Practice #1: Keep the details front and center
Invitations need to answer a few basic questions:

  • Who’s throwing the event
  • When & where it is
  • What the value proposition is

This is our invitation for the Summit party:

Everything you need to know is easy to find. You can tell at a glance:

  • Who’s throwing the party – Knak and three of our amazing partners
  • When and where it is – March 31 at the Minus5° Ice Experience
  • How to RSVP – Giant CTA at the top
  • Value prop – a chance to attend one of our legendary parties, plus a unique networking opportunity

Keep the user experience top of mind when you’re designing these. As we said above, no one should have to click through the invitation to find the details.

Best Practice #2: Cover the bases, and then stop
We know it’s tempting to explain exactly – and in great detail – why everyone should be at this event, but the truth is, your readers are likely just going to scan the invite and quickly decide if they’ll come.

Limit your copy to a couple of sentences. If something related to the event needs to be explained in greater detail, save it for the confirmation message after they RSVP.

Best Practice #3: Put your CTA to work
CTAs are incredibly useful, so put them to work for you. Let’s say someone clicks the “Yes, I’ll be there!” button in our invite here. A few things will happen:

1. They’ll be taken to this landing page where they can confirm their RSVP and learn a bit more about the party.

2. The “Join Us” form will auto-fill with their info, meaning they’re just one click away from being registered.

After they click “Reserve My Spot,” the confirmation page includes an “Add to Calendar” button that links the event directly to their calendar.

Best Practice #4: Use your branding strategically
These invitations are highly reminiscent of the Knak brand. They use our colours and fonts, and the images fit right in with those in our newsletters and blog posts.

Now, different events call for different design, so we’re not suggesting that your tiki party have the same branding as your webinars, but we do recommend that your entire invitation campaign uses the same design elements.
Each one of the pieces in our campaign has a similar style. They look like they belong together, and they look like they’re from us.

Best Practice #5: User experience is king
No matter how good your design is, if your invitation is hard to decipher, looks cluttered, or involves unnecessary steps, readers will lose interest quickly.
Focus on delivering the best possible user experience:

  • Include maps
  • Put the time, date, and location on every message
  • Give them the option to add the event to their calendar
  • Add small animations to engage readers

Best Practice #6: Reminders should create a sense of urgency
We include two reminders in our campaign:

  • A last chance reminder to RSVP
  • A day-of reminder for those who said yes

The good news here is that if you give them the option of adding the event to their calendar, you’re not the only one sending them reminders (thanks, Google).

However, it’s important that your reminders don’t look like an afterthought. Use them to create a sense of urgency:

  • Over 500 people have registered!
  • Only 15 spots left!
  • Registration closes at midnight!
  • Doors open at 6 tonight!

Keep your design consistent with the rest of the campaign, and use a few well-selected numbers to remind people that this is a can’t-miss event.

Best Practice #7: Say “Thank You”
Saying “thanks” to everyone who attended your party goes beyond good manners. It’s also a great opportunity to engage with your attendees as soon as they’re back in the office.

Include a compelling CTA, and use your thank you message to add value to the relationship.

  • If you hosted a webinar or other educational event, include a link to a download or other piece of relevant content.
  • If you hosted a social event, include a link to photos of the event, and encourage guests to tag themselves or post their own photos on your social media sites.

You can also encourage guests to leave a review of the event, take a brief survey, or share a key learning.

Your thank you message doesn’t need to be complex. Just be sincere, and give them an opportunity to engage with you again.

Key Takeaways
The takeaways for your invitation campaign are simple:

  • Make user experience a priority – your readers likely get hundreds of emails a day. Make it easy for them to find the relevant details and respond.
  • Make it beautiful – the design shouldn’t get in the way of a good user experience. Choose a design that underscores your event and your brand, and be consistent with it throughout the campaign.
  • Make them want to come – a succinct, compelling value proposition makes all the difference here. Tell them why they can’t miss it, and use reminder emails to underscore your point.
  • Make it simple – Use prominent CTAs, include maps, make sure the date and time are highly visible on every message, give them the option to add it to their calendar.

And one final note here: these beautiful invitation campaigns you’re creating can be easily built in Knak and leveraged into your automation platform. That way, the modules you build can be used in multiple pieces, saving time for your team and generally making life simpler throughout the process.

It’s basically a win/win situation, and if you’d like to learn more about it, check out our products page.

In the meantime, use these tips to set the stage and fill the seats at whatever it is you’re hosting next.

Fingers crossed it’s not cancelled.

Overlooked: 5 Email Branding Opportunities You’re Missing Out On

Sometimes the little things make all the difference.

When you’re sending automated emails – whether they’re welcoming new clients, updating tracking information, or confirming a password change – it’s easy to leave your branding on the back burner.

We think that’s a mistake.

Automated emails are the perfect opportunity to highlight your brand and further your customer relationships.

Don’t let great opportunities slip through your fingers. Check out the five email branding opportunities you can’t afford to overlook, and make the little things work for you.

Overlooked #1: The Email Signature

Your email signature is a highly visible, low-cost branding opportunity. Don’t let it be boring!

It’s the perfect place to establish consistent branding throughout your entire organization, so use your signatures to get brand messaging across at a glance. Our own email signatures used to be fairly plain, but we used Knak Builder to create a signature builder app so everyone at Knak – not just the marketing department – has a consistent, professional signature.

They’re easy to build, and they took our signatures from this:

To this

Note: If you’d like to see how we did it, check out the blog post.

Overlooked #2: The Transactional Email

We’ve got some great news here: Transactional emails – order, shipping, and delivery confirmations, along with back order and refund notifications – have open rates 8x higher than that of marketing emails, along with much longer average read times. It’s the captive audience marketers dream about, but unfortunately, marketers aren’t usually the ones sending these emails.

They’re usually auto-generated and built by the IT department, and they’re frequently plain text with little to no branding in sight.

Example:

This email couldn’t be less compelling, right? Here’s how to optimize transactional emails and take advantage of a wide-open branding opportunity:

  • Keep it on-brand – Use the great-looking headers, footers, and images that you use in your marketing emails. Unified branding is key, and it shouldn’t be limited to the marketing department.
  • Make it useful – Tell them how to use it, care for it, exchange it, style it, whatever. Establish your company as the authority on the product, and give them a reason to keep going back to your site.
  • Get their feedback – Include buttons so they can leave a review. Include links to your social sites and ask them to join the brand conversation. Invite them into your community and foster brand loyalty.
  • Introduce what’s next – Use these emails to tell your clients about relevant products, blog posts, offers, etc. If you keep the email forward-focused and not simply informational, you can capitalize on your captive audience. But keep it simple: this isn’t the time to introduce your entire product catalog. Pick one relevant idea and use CTAs to drive readers to it.

The main idea is to view your transactional emails as an extension of your marketing emails. Don’t let them get cluttered, but do utilize the space you have to build loyalty and develop repeat customers.

Note: Be aware of spam best practices here. The primary content should be related to the transaction itself, so make sure your branding is on point and your marketing efforts are streamlined and concise.

Overlooked #3: The Thank You Email

When a customer completes a non-purchase related action – downloads a white paper, fills out a form, posts a review, etc – you probably offer some sort of confirmation.

We’d suggest sending a thank you email, and using it as an opportunity to take your relationship a step further.
Add in a discount code, a special promotion, or a piece of relevant content, and give them a reason to click thru your email.

We created this thank you email to accompany a recent template download:

It’s well-branded, includes relevant CTAs, and gives our subscribers another touchpoint with Knak.

Plus, a study by Get Response found that single message, auto-responder email sequences like this have an open rate of nearly 90%, so not sending them is a huge missed opportunity.

Overlooked #4: The Password Reset Email

Password reset emails are common since most of us forget passwords on a fairly regular basis, but because they’re automated, it’s easy for them to become an unbranded afterthought. We know these aren’t a prime revenue driver, but they are a way to make life easier for your customers while still keeping your brand front and center.

Do what you can to help move them from a frustrating situation – being locked out of their account – to what they really want – getting back to your amazing product.

Some best practices here:

  • Keep it simple – Use large CTAs, keep the copy to a minimum, and resist the temptation to get clever with the subject line. Make it easy to get back on track quickly.
  • Brand effectively – Make it clear that the email is coming from your organization. Use a header and colours that reflect your brand, and inject your brand personality into the email. Just because it’s brief doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting.
  • Send a confirmation email after the reset is complete letting them know it was successful, and provide contact info in case the change was made by someone else.

We love this example from Slack:

It’s user friendly, looks good, and gets us back to work quickly.

Overlooked #5: The Welcome Email

This should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately, the welcome email is one of the most-often overlooked emails. Here’s why that’s a mistake.

Welcome emails – a first impression email sent to your new subscribers, customers, etc – have an open rate of 82%. In other words, your readers are excited to receive these emails and see what you have to say. This is your opportunity to introduce your brand and set the tone for your relationship.

Our welcome email used to look like this:

It was super plain, almost completely generic, and looked exactly like what it was: a form email that was created without much design.

Now, we love our customers, and we are thrilled when we bring someone new on board because we know we’re about to make their lives way easier.

But sending plain-text emails like this don’t convey that excitement. Instead, it looks a bit like most of our efforts went into recruiting them, and now that they’re a customer, the branding has taken a back seat.

Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth, and since we’re an email marketing company, we quickly stepped up our efforts.

This is our current welcome email:

This one is much more successful because it includes a few key elements:

  • Branding – Our brand logo, colours, and fonts are prominently featured, which maintains the look and feel of every previous piece of communication they received from us.
  • Information – This email clearly spells out the next steps for new users. We’ve included prominent CTAs to help get their account up and running quickly, and we break down the best practices that will help them use the platform effectively.
  • Design – No more plain text! The layout here is intuitive and easy to follow, and it guides the reader through the on-boarding process.

The key takeaway here is that, with a little effort, all of your messaging can look as good as your marketing campaigns.

If you use an email creation platform like Knak, these emails can be beautifully designed in Knak and then pushed into your automation platform, no matter which department is sending them.

If you’re not using an email creation platform, it may take a bit more work to build these emails, but the benefit of having consistent branding across your automated emails makes it well worth it. Use these opportunities to send out a great looking product and keep your brand at the center.

For more on why we’re so committed to unified branding, check out our Unified Branding = Better ROI blog.

And to learn more about how Knak can help you build beautiful, on-brand emails that level up your email strategy, no matter what department they’re coming from, check out our product page!

How Knak Does Email: Using MJML to Improve Responsiveness

computer screen displaying coding language

Responsive emails are designed to look good across any platform, on any device, whether it’s a mobile phone, tablet, or desktop.

Creating incredible emails is job #1 at Knak, so to make sure our emails look amazing no matter where they’re being read, we recently began using MJML.

MJML, short for Mailjet Markup Language, was designed to simplify the process of coding a responsive email. Basically, it allows for an intermediate markup language before rendering to HTML, effectively providing a way for developers to write high-level code for responsive emails more efficiently.

We were drawn to MJML for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s open-source
  2. It’s component-based

MJML is Open-Source

HTML for the web is fairly standard and predictable. There’s an agreed-upon way to develop, and all web browsers more or less follow that standard.

With email, it’s a bit like the wild west. Emails render differently in Outlook, Gmail, Apple Mail, and every other email client, and every time someone releases a new version, the rules change and the framework needs to be updated.

These discrepancies have given rise to a host of niche email developers who know the workarounds and have developed coding techniques to make emails render properly. Unfortunately, the rest of the community has to develop that code on their own, making the email creation process labor intensive and potentially error prone.

The beauty of MJML is that it’s open-source under the MIT license so everyone can work together to make the framework better. Instead of one developer trying to figure out the new code requirements, a host of great email developers – MJML currently has contributions from almost 80 developers – use their collective knowledge to find workarounds and incorporate them into the framework.

Also, unlike the GPL license, the MIT license allows developers to use MJML in other applications without having to make the whole application open-source. This means that even if you integrate MJML into a different product, you can still contribute to the open source format and help improve on it.1

MJML is Component-Based

MJML is component based, which means we can create our own custom components for MJML at any time and slot them neatly into the rest of the framework. This is great news for our dev team since it helps us leverage our components library and code more efficiently. We’re currently using MJML to support these components for all major email clients:

  • Section
  • Column
  • Button
  • Text
  • Image
  • Social
  • Divider

We’ve also put our own adapted components in place to help meet the wide range of client needs that Knak supports, including a custom button component that outputs differently depending on the Marketing Automation platform being used.
As we move forward with MJML, we plan to add more of our own custom components to allow our clients to create very progressive emails.

You can find detailed support for each component on their FAQ site.

Stop Worrying about Responsiveness

MJML is well-situated to help scale email development into the future. Since we began using it, we’ve been able to leverage the lessons learned from many years of previous development while contributing our own expertise to the MJML community.

It’s been a game changer for Knak over the last several months, and we’re happy to continue offering our clients a way to build beautiful, responsive emails that look amazing no matter where they’re being read.

If you’d like to find out how Knak is implementing MJML into our emails, get in touch! We’re happy to share what we’ve learned and show you how we’re using it to deliver a best-in-class email creation experience.

When “Oops!!!” Happens

You know the feeling, right? 

You take a ridiculous picture and text it to your friend, then check your phone a minute later and realize you actually sent it to a client.

Or you make a smart-aleck comment about the new office policy in an email to your co-worker, but according to your Sent folder, it actually went to your boss.

It’s embarrassing, and it happens to the best of us.

Literally the best of us. Like Amazon.

This week, someone in Amazon’s content marketing department accidentally sent their email template to part of their database.

In the grand scheme of mistakes, from “embarrassing photo” to “made salary info public,” this is fairly mild, but it’s a peek behind the curtain that I’m sure Amazon would have preferred to avoid.

Anyone who’s worked in email marketing likely has some sort of embarrassing story like this. At a former company, a draft copy of one of my emails was erroneously sent as the finished product. Unfortunately, the draft copy included several incomplete brainstorming ideas and an out-dated pricing model.

When an “oops” like this happens, you have two choices: 

  • Ignore it and let it blow over
  • Do some damage control

The one you choose usually depends on the severity of the mistake. If you sent something embarrassing to a client or a superior, a brief apology is definitely in order.

If you sent an email with incorrect information, you’ll certainly need to apologize, provide the correct info, and consider offering a discount as a goodwill gesture. 

But if you’d prefer to avoid these errors altogether, an email creation platform (ECP) like Knak can help. Knak’s editor has a built-in approval process that serves as a series of checks and balances. Once an email is built and an approval order is established, the email moves through the process easily and with great visibility.

Emails are tested, so before anyone hits “send,” you have peace of mind that:

  • They’ll render correctly across all email clients
  • Links are working (no broken emails)
  • Brand guidelines are in place
  • All feedback has been incorporated

Mistakes can be avoided. Knak can help organizations of any size – from a two-person start-up to a global enterprise – create incredible, on-brand emails quickly and make sure that what lands in in-boxes is exactly what was intended.

You’re still on your own with the text messages though.

Want to learn more about mistake-free emails? Request a demo to see how Knak can help level up your email strategy.

Not ready to chat yet? Check out our product page to learn more about Knak.

Knak is the first email creation platform built for marketing teams. We help you create beautiful, responsive, world-class emails – no coding required. Get to know us at knak.com.

An Email Creation Platform Built for the Enterprise

What to look for & why it matters

A good email creation platform (ECP) is hard to find. While email sending platforms (ESP) are fairly common, most of them lack the major features needed to be a true creation platform.

An ECP can transform the way your marketing team works, making it easy for anyone to build incredible emails that keep your brand at the center, no coding required, and if you’re part of an enterprise, this is great news.

Enterprise marketing teams have a unique set of challenges, and an ECP built for the enterprise – an Enterprise Email Creation Platform (EECP) – helps you overcome them, one email at a time.

Read on to find out how an EECP is strategically designed to help you market at scale.

A different set of challenges

Enterprises are used to dealing with a complex set of email marketing challenges. Collaborating with large teams across multiple locations while staying on brand and ensuring compliance requires a solid strategy and a creation platform that helps you reach your goals.

Here are the features to look for when it’s time to supercharge your team’s efforts:

Brand management: Look for a platform that gives you full control over your brand’s fonts, images, colours, and more, so each department can create amazing emails that adhere to brand guidelines.

A platform that uses email modules instead of templates is key here, as pre-built modules with guardrails in place give your team greater creative control and the flexibility to make on-brand modifications without needing to code.

Other important brand management features to look for:

  • Access – determine what your team can access, view, and sync
  • Multiple brands – manage guidelines for multiple brands across your business, including those in different geographic locations
  • Building rules – establish pre-approved parameters to ensure emails are consistent

Simple creation: non-technical marketers should be able to build emails quickly without having to learn to code.

Transparent workflow: The right EECP makes workflow simple so nothing falls through the cracks.

Seamless collaboration: You should be able to collaborate across teams, departments, and locations easily. Other perks: the ability to collect feedback all in one place so changes can be made quickly.

Effortless approvals: With a properly defined approval order, the approval process is transparent and intuitive. Bonus points if the platform allows for annotated feedback so it’s easy to see who said what, when.

Instant integration: Emails should sync instantly to your sending platform and render flawlessly across any email client.

Responsive support: Your EECP should have a dedicated team that’s there when you need them.

Good email is in the details

Your enterprise team should be able to launch on-brand email quickly, easily, and at scale. A good EECP makes it easy for anyone on your team – even if they work in a different location or for a different brand – to create amazing emails without learning to code.

When you find the right one, you put the creativity back in the hands of your team and empower them to do what they do best: focus on the marketing.

If it’s time to find a better way to build emails, we’d love to chat. Request a demo and let us show you how the right EECP makes it easy to create incredible emails from start to finish! Not ready to chat yet? Feel free to browse through our product page to learn more.

How Knak Does Email: Creating Effective Email Briefs

Why you need them and what to include.

Download our free Email Brief template and start creating more effective email briefs today.

Look, we get it. We know email briefs take time. We know you don’t have a lot of time. And we also know that skipping the email brief can seem like a great way to speed up the email creation process.

But email briefs are important, and we think that skipping them is a mistake. Here’s why:

  1. They keep your team and your stakeholders in alignment
  2. They reveal areas of your strategy that need to be better developed
  3. They serve as a central location for copywriting/design/development updates (and keep each of those components on track)
  4. They’re a great archival record of your campaign strategy

Think of it like a packing list for your vacation. Sure, you might remember everything you need, but if you write it down ahead of time, there’s a much better chance you won’t be stuck at a ski resort without your gloves.

Creating email briefs doesn’t have to be overwhelming, so we’re breaking down the 10 things you should include, along with some insight to help keep your briefs on track.

After all, better briefs = better emails = better results.

1. Project Description

We recently sent an email announcing our 2019 Benchmark Report. In the email, we introduced the report and invited our database to download it, so, in the accompanying brief, we simply included a few sentences that spelled out the “what” of the project. It was short, to the point, and easy for the team to understand.

Use this section to specify the type of email it will be. Is this:

    • An email triggered by a previous subscriber action (an abandoned shopping cart, a prior purchase, etc)?
    • Geared towards lapsed customers?
    • Introducing a new product?

Break it down so that team members and stakeholders can easily get the point.

2. Objectives / Goals

How will you measure success? Decide what your KPIs will be, and set goals for each of them. Some common KPIs:

    • Opens
    • Click-throughs
    • Downloads
    • Conversions
    • Leads

In the case of our Benchmark Report, our KPIs were click-through rate and number of downloads. We set a goal for a certain number of downloads, so it’s been easy to tell if our results are on target.

3. Target Audience

Who will the email go to? Your full database or a particular segment? Take the time to clearly define this category using terms that match the audience selection tool in your marketing automation software.

4. Key Messages & CTA

What action do you want your readers to take, and how will you get them to do it?

    • Are you offering a discount?
    • Sharing exclusive content?
    • Using a compelling story?

Simplicity is key here. Emails with one clearly-stated CTA tend to perform much better than those that are diluted with a second one. Spell out your desired key messages so your writers and design team know where to put the emphasis.

5. Budget

Include budget for:

    • Copywriting
    • Design
    • Development

Stakeholders will appreciate having this clearly delineated from the outset of the project.

6. Inspiration

Was this project inspired by something else? Maybe you received an email or saw a blog post you loved, and you want to create something similar. Include a link to those inspiring pieces here so your copywriter and designer can use them for context.

7. Key Components & Considerations

If your strategy isn’t fully thought-out, this section is your friend. List your ideas, and narrow them down to a simplified plan for your email.
Things to consider here:

  • Are you going to A/B test something in your email?
  • What time of day should this email go out?
  • Will this likely be read on a mobile device or a desktop?
  • What will your “From” name be?
  • How personalized will your content be?
  • Do you want to include GIFs?
  • What and where should the dynamic content be?

Once your strategy is clear, spell it out in this section to keep your team in alignment.

8. Mandatory Elements

This probably won’t vary much from email to email, and if you develop it properly, it’ll save time in the design phase. We’d suggest you build a folder with your company’s required elements:

  • Standard fonts
  • Approved colours
  • Company logo/website
  • Social icons
  • Standard footer

Include the link to the folder, list the requirements for each particular email, and make life easy for your design team.

9. Tone & Voice

Specify the author of each email and clarify the tone you’re looking for. Once your writers have been working with you for a while, you may just need to list the author and let them take it from there, but at the beginning, take the time to spell it out. Link back to your inspiration pieces for reference if needed.

10. Timeline / Project Schedule

We use Asana as our project management software, so once the brief is finalized, we build the project and assign tasks. Our key milestones:

  • Brief approval
  • Copywriting complete
  • Design complete
  • Email built
  • Landing page built
  • Email tested
  • Program built in marketing automation platform (we use Marketo)
  • Approval
  • Deployment

Insert approval checkpoints along the way as needed. Some organizations require approval after each stage while some prefer to wait until the end. Tweak the schedule to fit your organization, but keep in mind that each round of revisions increases the time to deployment. Plan approvals strategically to get your emails out the door on time.

As you can see, our template isn’t overly complicated. Sure, it takes time to think through each project and fill it out, but we’d say that every bit of effort we put into it is returned in the form of a much simpler email creation process.

We have a new Marketing Manager (me!), and being able to look through past briefs has been really helpful as I craft our campaigns. But no matter how well-established our team is, we’ll continue to create these briefs to keep everyone on the same page.

That way, we’ve all got our ski gloves when we need them.

Ready to build your own email briefs? Download our free Email Brief template and get your projects off to a great start!

How Knak Does Email: Email Testing At-a-Glance

If you’re an email marketer, you may have some questions:

Should I put that heart-eyes emoji in the subject line of my email or leave it out?
What format is best for my content?
Will that GIF give me better click-thru rates?
Should my CTA say, “Download Now” or “Get the Facts”?
Should my CTA button be blue or green?
And while we’re at it, should my CTA button be at the top or bottom of my email?

Fortunately, there’s a great way to find out the answer to all of those questions. It’s called A/B testing, and if you’re not doing it, it’s time to start.

We’re going to take an in-depth look at email testing in the coming months, so consider this A/B Testing 101, and read on for some of the basics.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is the process of sending one variation of an email to a subset of your subscribers and another variation to another subset to see which performs better.

The “A” refers to the control group, and the “B” refers to the challenger, or test, group.

Here’s a real-life Knak example:
We launched our Knak newsletter recently. Beginning with our September edition, we wanted to test the efficacy of including an emoji in the subject line.

We set up the test in Marketo to send the newsletter with the emoji to 25% of our subscribers and the newsletter without the emoji to another 25%. The test ran, and at the end it, Marketo sent the email with the higher-performing subject line to the rest of our subscribers.

(The results? As you can see below, in September, the subject line without the emoji performed better. In October, the winner was the one with the emoji. Stay tuned for the tiebreaker …)

A/B test graph

Why do I need to do A/B testing?

If you aren’t doing A/B testing, you’re losing valuable insight into the marketing tactics that resonate with your audience. Over time, those insights translate into dollars.

Gain the insight ⇒ turn it into better campaigns ⇒ reap the benefits.

If you don’t have the insight, your campaigns are at the mercy of your marketing team’s best guess, and you won’t have the benefit of hard data to support those guesses.

Our recent Email Benchmark Report notes that only 46% of those we surveyed say they regularly conduct A/B testing. That means 54% of email marketers are leaving a wealth of information on the table.

Join the minority here. A/B test your campaigns, and get a leg up on your competition.

Ok, let’s make it happen.

Here are some A/B testing dos and don’ts to help you get the most accurate results:

  1. Don’t test more than one thing at a time.
    We know you want to see which subject line/emoji/CTA/format/font color works best, but you have to stick with one thing at a time, or you won’t know which piece is influencing which result.
  2. Do send both tests at the same time.
    The time of day that your email is sent impacts your open rates. Don’t weigh a green CTA button sent at 4 PM on Sunday against a blue CTA button sent at 8 AM on Monday.
    (Hint: email send time is a great thing to A/B test on its own. )
  3. Do set goals for your tests.
    You need to know what you hope to gain from your A/B testing. Are you trying to improve open rates? Click-thru rates (the ratio of “clickers” to email openers)?
    The metrics you’re trying to improve will dictate which elements you’re testing, so channel your inner middle-school science student and start hypothesizing. Finding out if what you think will work is actually what does work is a great learning exercise for your team.
  4. Do test more than once.
    If you truly want accurate results, you need to test and test again. If we had only tested our emoji-in-the-subject-line once, we would have thought it was ineffective. But since the results the next month showed something different, we know it’s worth exploring further.
  5. Don’t ignore the results.
    Collect the data and analyze it! Keep track of your results and use them to improve your campaigns. Do the results line up with your hypotheses? Do they support the types of campaigns you’re already sending? Do you need to consider tweaking your design? Insight like this is incredibly valuable and can have a lasting impact on your campaign results (and therefore your bottom line).

Help!

Marketo, Eloqua, and most other marketing automation software have built-in A/B testing capabilities. If you need help setting it up (or figuring out how to use it!), we can help!

After all, we’re marketers too, and we’d love to welcome you to the 46% of us who are improving our open and click-thru rates with A/B testing.

How to Streamline Your Email Creation Process

Recently, Knak sponsored an Email Benchmark Report. We gained a lot of valuable insight, but one thing that seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the piece was that the email creation process is generally frustrating, time consuming, and inefficient.

In fact, a majority of respondents told us that it takes a week or more to get an email campaign out the door. That’s an eternity in 2019, and we know there’s a better way.

Here’s where the hold up seems to be:

  • Inefficient creation process – campaign guidelines/timelines aren’t clear
  • Slow approval process – deployment is delayed because approval processes are murky (or non-existent)
  • Design updates – templates are inefficient, and even a minor change means the email has to go back to the designer

These things are problematic at organizations of every size, so whether you’re an SMB or an enterprise, there’s a good chance your email creation process could be more efficient.

No matter how big or small your company is, you need to be thinking about scale. But how can you be ready to scale if your existing process is inefficient and labor intensive? And even if it’s going well, how would it work if you suddenly needed to scale up?

A scalable email marketing plan keeps you agile so you can keep delivering knockout campaigns without sacrificing quality and creativity. But you can’t wait until it’s time to scale to put a solid plan in place. Doing the legwork now ensures that you’ll be ready to add on whenever you need to.

Here are some ways to streamline your email creation process so you can be more efficient right now and ready to scale later.

What are you working with?

Take a look at the existing pieces of your Marketing department:

People – Who’s on your team? Do their existing roles optimize their strengths? How is their current workload?
Make sure:

  • Your team can handle an increase in projects without neglecting their current customers
    They have the right skills to reach the new areas you’re targeting
  • Evaluate your current team, identify their strengths, and determine what crucial skills are missing. Once you see what your current team is capable of, you can identify where you need to hire to help you reach your goals.

Processes – Scaling up your marketing can easily turn into one giant headache if you’re not intentional about it. Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a step back, evaluate your current process, and see what’s working.
Can you:

  • Adjust your content without time-consuming re-designs?
  • Get through the approval process quickly?
  • Easily identify where you’re seeing a positive ROI?

If you can’t quickly identify what’s working (and what’s not), go back to the beginning and think through each step in your process. Once you have a clear picture, you’ll be in a better position to scale.

Technology – What’s in your MarTech stack? Do you have a piece of tech that could be making your life easier? Make a list of the pain points you’re experiencing and then take a look at your technology.
Is there:

  • Something you already own with a functionality you’re not using?
  • An area you could automate to help eliminate errors?

The right technology is vital as you scale. Whether you need to leverage a piece of tech you already have or look for something new to help resolve those pain points, a thoughtfully designed tech stack will help reduce human error and free up your team to focus on growth. Better technology = a smoother process, better results, faster time to market.

Time to Streamline

Now that you’ve examined the moving parts of your email process, we’ve got some inside tips to help you turn it into a well-oiled machine.

Here are six things that will keep your campaigns on track and on time:

1. Provide a clear brief

  • Spell it out – all of it. Include your goal for the campaign, who it’s going to, and why you’re sending it. List target dates for each part of the process: copywriting, design, approvals, revisions, and launch.

2. Set a kick off meeting with key team members

  • Even if you’ve done a thousand campaigns together, have a meeting to make sure you’re on the same page.

3. Ensure alignment on goals and timeline

  • Buy-in from your team is crucial. A clear brief and a kickoff meeting will go a long way here, so make sure your team has the info they need to launch the campaign successfully.

4. Leverage your tech stack

  • We love Asana for setting and managing timelines and Knak for handling feedback. Remember: more automation = less human error, greater scalability.

5. Schedule time for revisions

  • Whether you’re using pre-built templates, coding from scratch, or designing from modules, revisions are a given. Build the time into your schedule so they don’t put you behind schedule.

6. Be strategic with your approval order

  • The most senior approver doesn’t need to see the first draft. Design your workflow so they’re not bothered with small edits and only see the (nearly) finished product. *Hint: the Approval Groups feature in Knak makes this simple!

The Right Strategy, The Right Scale

Your email creation process can be simple and ready to scale. It may take a bit to get there, but once you have the right strategy in place, you can eliminate delays and get your campaigns out the door quickly.

And as a bonus? The right strategy and the right technology makes scale simple. Your process will adjust when you need it to, and your team will be free to devote their time to what really matters: more creativity, optimized results, and knockout campaigns.

If you’re ready to talk strategy, we’d love to help. Reach out, and we’ll work with you to develop a plan that grows with your organization.

Announcing the 2019 Marketo Email Benchmark Study

The State of the Message, and what it means for you

Knak recently conducted our second annual Marketo Email Benchmark Study, and the results are in. We’ve covered everything, from deliverability and click-thru rates to team size and structure, popular email trends, and the technology that ties it all together.

Basically, it’s can’t-miss information for email marketers, so download the study now, and find out:

  • What your peers’ email marketing strategy looks like, and how yours stacks up
  • Which email components are making the biggest impact on click-thru rates
  • How to navigate through some common email marketing pain points
  • What technology can help take your email marketing to the next level

We surveyed Marketo Admins representing 40% of Marketo’s account base and analyzed millions of emails for this study, so get the report and give your team the insight they need to deliver best-in-class Marketo email performance at your organization.

Knak is the first email creation platform built for teams. We help you build beautiful, responsive, world-class emails, no coding required. Get to know us at knak.com.