Category - Marketing

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!

When Summit Gets Cancelled

an animation of a rocket circling and sputtering

Sometimes, circumstances happen outside of our control. Plans change, weather interferes, global health concerns arise … it’s just how life goes.

The Knak team has been planning for Adobe Summit for months, but last week, in the midst of travel concerns, the event was cancelled.

Adobe Summit isn’t alone. Facebook, UNICEF, TED, Amazon Web Services, and a host of other organizations have cancelled events across the globe. South by Southwest won’t take place this year, museums are closed, and sports teams are currently competing without spectators.

None of these decisions were made lightly, and Knak is just one of thousands of businesses who were affected by the Adobe Summit news. We’re definitely disappointed, though, so as the CMO, I have the unique challenge of leading the team through the aftermath of what was to be one of our biggest marketing events of the year.

Planning Ahead
We started planning for Summit in mid-2019. Many of our customers come to Summit every year, and we look forward to the opportunity to connect face to face and show them some love with exclusive events.

We also look forward to connecting with prospective customers. We invest heavily in Summit because the ROI is undeniable: we’re able to meet prospects in person, which often accomplishes the work of a few weeks of calls and emails, engage with people who don’t know about us yet, size up our competition, and connect with thousands of our fellow marketers all in one place.

It’s truly an “all-in” event for us. The connections we make at Summit lead to sales pipeline for months and even years to come, so when Adobe announced they were cancelling, I immediately started thinking about how to minimize the impact of the cancellation on our business and our team.

It was time to start making lemonade.

Step 1 – What can we recuperate?
In the last 6 months, we’ve invested a lot of time, money, and effort into Summit. Adobe has been extraordinary, and they made it simple to get our money back.

Likewise, we had a special event planned at a venue inside the hotel, which allowed us to cancel without penalty. We were also able to put the brakes on some of the swag we ordered and the build for our booth.

Unfortunately, there’s a decent amount we can’t get back. Some of the swag has already been produced, and we have printing projects in process that can’t be halted and travel expenses that won’t be refunded. Plus, our team has invested significant time brainstorming, planning, designing, writing, etc, and those hours cannot be recovered.

So, my first job was to take a look at what we have spent and figure out what we can recover.

Step 2 – What do we do next?
Once I understood how much money we had to play with (and how much we had to just write off), we started to think about what to do with the funds.

Our investment in Summit was part of our marketing spend, and it’s primary purpose was to drive pipeline growth and foster customer success. To that end, what makes the most sense? Do we invest in marketing initiatives? Shuffle some of the budget to the sales team? Use part of it for customer appreciation?

I’m not going to give away the farm and hand out our marketing plan, but as the CMO, I will tell you that I’m confident in my team, and I believe that our path forward is investing in a combination of projects both inside and outside the marketing department.

Step 3 – Pivot
You decide how you look at life – positive or negative. As a leader, you also influence how your team looks at life. For my part, I’m choosing to look at this as an opportunity.

On the one hand, the planning we did is not a total loss. We made some critical decisions about Adobe Summit as a team, and we’re going to shelve those decisions and use them as a launch point for the 2021 event. That way, we won’t be starting from scratch, and some of the legwork will be done before we even begin.

On the other hand, the Summit cancellation gives us a chance to test some new campaigns and new ideas we wouldn’t otherwise have the time or money to explore. As with anything new, there are risks to what we’re doing, but I truly believe that doing nothing in this circumstance and continuing with business as usual is an even bigger risk.

So, we’re going to ride with this change and explore some new opportunities. After all, Knak is an email marketing company, and in the face of worldwide event cancellations, what form of communication is more critical than ever?

If your prospects can’t come to you, you’re going to have to go to them. And so far, the email inbox has proven to be an excellent place to reach customers.

If it’s time to start building beautiful emails that keep your brand at the center, we’d love to chat. Request a demo and let us show you how Knak makes it easy to create incredible emails from start to finish!

Not ready to chat yet? Browse through our product page to learn more.

Unified Branding = Better ROI

When a solution maximizes your existing tech spend.

In any given company, thousands of emails are being sent weekly by everyone from the marketing team to the CEO. The resources that make those emails look amazing – the design, the brand guardrails, and the great-looking header images – are typically reserved for marketing emails, leaving most of the other departments with a set of standards that are a bit … ahem … less rigid.

As is often the case, the marketing emails look amazing, but the further you get from the marketing department, the less design you see, until you’re basically looking at text-only emails.

If this is how your non-marketing emails look, we think you’re missing a major branding opportunity. We’re not suggesting that you get your design team to manually create supply order emails, but if you’ve invested the resources into creating and implementing brand standards, why not use your emails to further your brand every time you hit “send”?

If you’re using an Email Creation Platform (ECP), you likely already have modules and/or templates that have been custom-built with your unique branding. This is great news for anyone in a marketing role, because as marketing teams become more and more decentralized, teams working in different departments and locations can build and send their own emails while still adhering to brand standards.

But it’s also great news for anyone sending emails to external recipients.

An ECP, especially one that uses modules, makes it possible for anyone to create on-brand emails quickly and easily. And by anyone, we really mean anyone. Here’s what’s possible when your emails are filtered through a true email creation platform like Knak:

  • Brand guardrails can be universal, so HR emails to job candidates and sales emails to prospects look just as polished as your marketing campaigns.
  • The agency you’re using can be plugged into your ECP, so anything they’re creating can easily adhere to brand standards.
  • Pre-built (and perfectly branded) modules are accessible to everyone, so you get brand consistency across departments.
  • Automatic, system generated emails – welcome emails, password resets, etc – can be built according to your brand standards, extending your branding across the customer on-boarding process and beyond.

Here’s how it works when you do this using Knak:

  • Modules are built according to brand guidelines, using your exact colours, fonts, images, etc.
  • Emails are assembled in Knak using drag-and-drop modules, so headers and footers are easily incorporated into any outward-facing email.
  • Emails are then synced or uploaded into your existing tech and sent.

Knak integrates directly with Marketo, SalesForce Marketing Cloud, and Eloqua, but Knak emails can be sent through any platform that allows you to upload an HTML code. This makes it simple to consolidate the email creation process and increase the value of your technology spend.

It’s like moving from silos:


To streamlined:

Note: Check out our brand new Knak for Google Chrome extension that lets you import Knak emails directly into Gmail!

Today’s MarTech landscape is incredibly fragmented. By putting Knak in front of your existing, fragmented tech stack, you get a better ROI across each platform and a more cohesive, consistent brand experience for your entire audience.

The results can be as simple or as elaborate as you want, but the main thing is that your brand comes through consistently in every communication.

If you’re a Knak customer, don’t miss out on key branding opportunities. Make sure every email starts and ends with your brand, regardless of whether they’re job offers from HR, supply orders from Distribution, tech support from Customer Service, or campaigns from Marketing.

When you leverage your emails through Knak, you get the best ROI all the way around: consistent branding across the board, more value from the platforms you’re already using.

Want to talk branding? 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.

Getting More Out of Knak: Leveraging Your Marketing Agency

Your marketing agency is one of your best strategic partners.

They know your business, they prioritize your success, and they save your organization a heap of money by providing a team of experts that you don’t have to hire on your own.

Not ready to hire a dedicated SEO or social media specialist? Don’t have enough work to justify adding a second (or third or fourth) graphic designer? No problem! Roll those things into your agency contract, and you’ve got an entire team working to improve your visibility as an organization.

Historically, though, an agency’s expertise has been limited to the marketing department. They’re creating great campaigns, but all those incredible assets are only being used to attract new customers.

Every other department is working in a silo: they’re developing assets and creating emails with little to no input from Marketing, which means each recipient has a different experience with your brand depending on who is sending the emails.

What If?

Here’s a thought. What if your agency’s expertise wasn’t confined to marketing? What if you could leverage the work they’re doing to extend into every corner of your business?

When you work with an email creation platform like Knak, the assets your agency creates can be leveraged across your entire organization, meaning that those amazing branded assets can be used by all functions.

  • Your brand standards and guardrails remain in place across departments
  • Your prospects, customers, contacts, and partners get a consistent brand experience, no matter which department they’re communicating with
  • You get more mileage out of the assets your agency is creating.
  • Your agency is able to extend their reach throughout your organization

It’s basically a win from every angle, and it’s simple to do:

Knak emails are built using modules. The modules are created with your brand elements, so anyone building an email simply has to drag and drop the right modules into place and add their content. It’s simple, so anyone, regardless of their department, can use the modules to build and send emails.
That means all of your company’s emails can look great with very little effort – from HR emails to job candidates to sales emails to existing customers. No more different experiences for every recipient – your brand stays at the center and your messaging is consistent.

Now add your agency into the mix. Any brand elements your agency creates – headers, footers, images, etc – can be added to the modules, which means those assets are no longer limited to the marketing department. Plus, your brand guardrails remain in place, so any other department building emails in Knak will be limited to using your brand-approved designs.

  • Anyone can use the modules
  • Anyone can use the assets
  • Your agency’s work has a greater impact
  • You get more from your agency spend
  • Your emails – all of them – look great

A Partner in Strategy

Knak and your agency are both valuable partners, and when they work together, your organization wins.

The agency is helping you implement a killer strategy and develop the assets to back it up. Knak is helping your team create incredible emails that keep your brand at the center, and no one needs to learn how to code.
— One quick aside here – if you’re using Knak, you don’t need to pay your agency to build, code, or develop templates for you. If it’s email related, we’ve got you covered.

It’s time to spread that agency magic beyond the marketing department. When you leverage your agency through Knak, you’re improving outcomes all the way around and extending your best-looking assets into every corner of your company.

If you’d like to learn more about how Knak and your agency can work together, let’s chat!

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.

The Future is Collaborative: Marketing Better Together

Ten different hands piled on top of one another representing team work

Teamwork makes the dream work, but for some reason, collaboration among marketing teams tends to be overly complicated.

Marketing teams today are busier than ever, trying to keep up with never-ending technology changes and shrinking budgets while still finding time to innovate and drive their brand and business forward.

The last thing they want to do is spend time hunting down feedback and approvals, but with teams spread between different departments, different locations, and even different countries, the lack of collaborative systems has become a major pain point.

Nothing ruins innovation faster than good ideas stuck in an outdated process, so Knak is making collaboration – both within marketing teams and cross-functionally – a focus this year.

We work extensively with marketers every day, and we know that the future of email marketing is going to have a major emphasis on collaboration:

  • Less reliance on email as the channel for feedback and approval
  • More visibility into the workflow, from creation to completion
  • Better access controls for stakeholders inside and outside of the marketing team

Here’s a look at the pain points we often hear from our customers and what we’re doing to make them a thing of the past.

Pain Point #1: Our workflow is unclear

The more decentralized your marketing team becomes, the more important it is to identify a clear workflow to make sure your process is consistent and your brand guidelines are protected. Yours may vary, but here are some of our common elements:

  • Objective / goal setting
  • Creative brief
  • Project scope
  • Timelines
  • Content creation
  • Design/build
  • Review/feedback/edits
  • Testing/final edits
  • Launch/wrap-up
  • Performance evaluation

A quick note here: workflow and project management are not the same thing. Project management — also very important — deals with the big picture, including overall planning and oversight for a project. Workflow connects the tasks and dictates how the project will move from stage to stage.

We use Knak’s collaboration functionality to manage our workflow because it allows us to easily track emails through the approval process — more on that later — but we also use and highly recommend Asana for project management.

Don’t just assume your team is on the same page. If your team is small, get in the habit of setting a clear workflow now so your system will be in place when it’s time to grow.

If your team is large, be consistent by documenting your approach so your team knows what to expect. This will also allow you to refine your process over time more easily.

Pain Point #2: Our team is literally not here

Gone are the days when you could just shout across the office and get a response from your coworker. Teams are becoming more dispersed, and it’s not uncommon for your fellow marketers to be working in fully or partially remote roles.

You also have the challenge of working effectively with team members who might be traveling or are based in other parts of the world.

We get it. About half of our team is based in Canada, but we also have team members working in the U.S. and Europe. We’ve got some great tools that help us bridge the differences in time zones, but we’ve also had to learn to embrace asynchronous collaboration.

If you’re feeling the pinch of trying to juggle schedules and make progress across time zones, it’s time to lay out a strategy so your team isn’t losing good ideas and feeling isolated.

Pain Point #3: Technology has changed, but our process hasn’t

Technology changes quickly. Many of the changes are positive and could make life easier, but updating your process takes too much time.

This is actually something we hear often from our customers. They know a new version/update/software would increase efficiency, but learning the new system and teaching it to their team takes so long that they can’t afford to do it.

Unfortunately, the only real way around this is a mindset shift: Accept that adopting new technology is a time investment that will pay off in the long run. Sure, it may be easier to continue with your current (outdated? non-existent?) collaborative system, but implementing something more efficient can pay off quickly.

Do your due diligence with the proof of concept, make sure your new software has amazing customer support, and give your team tools that makes life easier.

Pain Point #4: Approval is a nightmare

Here’s the deal: approvals have been a problem as long as approvals have existed.

Most approval processes have all the visibility of a blizzard at midnight: you’re not sure where the email is in the process or who’s supposed to be approving it.

Test emails are sent, then forwarded for approval, but the emails get distorted, which makes them hard to preview.

Or – and this is the most unbelievable in the year 2020 – teams rely on email threads to manage approvals, and deciphering who said what, when basically requires its own full-time position.

In our 2019 Email Benchmark report, approvals were listed as a frustration over and over again, so here are our recommendations for breaking up the bottleneck.

1. Start with a creative brief. This may seem irrelevant to the approval process, but we assure you that it’s the best place to start. If your team is on the same page from the outset, getting approval at the end is going to be much easier.

A good creative brief sets the tone, scope, and task list for the campaign and should clearly communicate deadlines and touchpoints along the way. For help creating strong briefs and an email brief template, check out our January How Knak Does Email post.

A graphic of a Knak email brief template showing project name, point of contact, and project overview fields

2. Identify a review order, starting with the least senior member of the team. Does your CMO need to be the one to point out that you listed the wrong promo code or put the CTA in the wrong place? They do not. The most senior approver should be the last one to see the email. Assuming your creative brief was approved by the team’s senior leadership, you should be able to move through feedback and edits and only look for final approval when it’s completely ready to go.

An additional note here: the best way to drive your copywriters crazy is to give your email to 6 different people at the same time and have all the feedback pile in at once. This method actually makes everyone a little crazy, because there’s a good chance that stakeholder #1’s feedback has already been incorporated, but since stakeholders #2 and 3 don’t know that, they’re actually reviewing a document that no longer exists (keep reading to see how Knak’s updated editor eliminates this problem).

3. Set deadlines. You likely already do this, but we can’t oversell the importance of establishing deadlines and adhering to them. If each point in the approval process takes just one or two additional days, you could be adding a week or more to your timeline. Clearly communicate the deadlines, and then follow through with them. After one or two rounds of this, everyone should be on the same page.

4. Streamline your approval process. Does the email really need to go from Jim to Heather to Kyle and then back to Jim and then back to Heather before it goes to Karen? Probably not, right? Approvals can turn into an endless feedback loop, so do what you can to eliminate steps along the way.

Ideally, feedback can be collected all in one place in a timely manner so that your writers and designers can make the necessary edits (once!) and then pass the email along for final approval. In the past, I worked with an organization that had 7 or 8 steps in the approval process, but when we really took time to look at it, we realized we only needed 4. By passing the email from one person to the next and collecting the feedback all in one place, we were able to make all the edits at once and get the emails out the door much faster.

5. Get some technology. Seriously. There is no need to try to manually manage approvals, even if that’s what you’ve always done (See: Pain Point #3 above). If you’re a Knak Enterprise customer, our editor will make the approval process easier because you can collaborate, build emails, and manage feedback all in the same place, but even if you’re not (yet?), you have options.

Check out Filestage, Box Notes, or WorkFront for tech options that simplify approvals and make it easy to collect feedback from stakeholders and team members who aren’t necessarily co-located.

Our Collaborative Tools

Collaboration is one of our main values over here at Knak, so here’s a look at the technology we use to make it simple.

For Project Management:
Asana – if we’re working on a project that’s not related to an email build, we use Asana to manage the details. Tasks and milestones are assigned by the project owner, the calendar and deadlines are shared with everyone who’s working on the project, reminders are sent as deadlines approach, and everyone has great visibility into the current state of the project.

The temptation here is to look for a different piece of software for each thing you need, but a good PM platform eliminates the need for multiple tools and brings everything you need under the same program.

For Real-Time Communication:
Slack – Like we said, our team is only partially co-located. We rely on Slack channels and DMs to keep communication lines open, organize conversations, and celebrate wins.

Zoom – A few weeks ago, our weekly marketing meeting included team members in India, Austria, Canada, and the US. Zoom makes it possible to connect in real-time so we can continue moving forward even when we’re not together.

For Design:
InVision – Finalizing design requires a certain amount of back-and-forth, especially if you’re working with an agency. InVision is great because feedback is collected directly on the design slides, make it easy to track comments and changes.

For Approvals:
Knak – Knak’s email approvals feature is split into two streams. On the approval side, users define an approval workflow so everyone can see whose approval is needed and where the email is in the process. Multiple approvers can be assigned to each stage to help improve efficiency.

On the collaboration side, non-approvers have the ability to view and comment on emails also. The combination of the two allows for better collaboration between the team and the approvers and greater visibility into the approval process.

Knak’s tool also provides an audit trail so it’s easy to identify the previous and future approvers and keep track of changes. Plus, in early 2020, we’ll be introducing an annotated feedback feature that will make collaboration even easier.

The Future is Collaborative

Collaboration is becoming more and more of a focus among marketing teams, and we can’t see that changing any time soon. As a new year of marketing kicks off, I think we’ll see defined approval processes become the norm and collaboration become an even more integral part of day-to-day life for all Marketers – and we’re doing all we can to make sure our platform makes it possible.

Want to learn more? We’d love to show you what’s new at Knak. Request a demo, and let’s talk email creation and collaboration.

Get Friendly with Brand Guardrails

Employees in an office setting sitting around a desk and laptop computer conversing

You’re a marketing pro. You know all about branding, and you’ve thoughtfully designed your website, landing pages, and print materials to look great and underscore your brand values.

But what about your emails? Are you leaving the design up to chance, relying on a centrally-placed logo to tell readers who the sender is?

Bad call.

Brand guidelines are important, and if you’re not being intentional with them, you’re missing a huge opportunity to deliver a strong, consistent message every time you send an email.

Your brand should be at the center of every email, and that requires more than a logo and a catchy CTA. Keep your team and your messaging on the same page by establishing guidelines for the following elements.

*Note: Are you part of an enterprise? Read on for a special bonus section for our marketing friends on large teams.

Brand like the pro you are

Ok, it’s time to set yourself apart. If you want to brand your emails like a pro, here’s what you need to define.

  1. Overall look
  2. Header
  3. Fonts
  4. Colours
  5. Tone

To make it easy, we’re going to compare two emails from HomeAway and show you how they maintain their brand identity across their emails.

Side by side comparison of two different emails from Homeaway

Overall look – A predictable format = increased scannability.
These two emails have a similar look and feel, even though one is promoting mountain cabins and one is promoting September getaways. Lots of blue, an easily identifiable header at the top, and an easy-to-follow layout make it super easy for the reader to scan the email and find what they’re looking for.

It would be easy for a marketing team to take a very different approach to each of these emails, choosing woodsy, mountain graphics for the first one and palm trees and beaches for the second, but by keeping the emails similar, they’re teaching their readers what to expect. The two layouts aren’t identical, but they’re similar enough to be easily scanned.

Header – Subtle differences keep it engaging.
Check out the two headers. The colours, fonts, logo, and formats are identical. The amount of text is similar, and the buttons at the top of each header are laid out in the same way. They’ve changed the buttons to reflect the content, and now we’re debating the merits of ocean-front villas vs. log cabins.

The smart move here is that HomeAway built their headers to be simple and recognizable. The wording is different, but since the format is the same, our eyes knows where to look when we open their emails.

Fonts – Readable > Unique
We know. You’re a marketer, and you’re nothing if not creative. However, the fonts you’re using are a representation of your brand, and if they’re not rendering properly, your branding takes a hit.

Campaign Monitor has a great piece on choosing the best fonts for email marketing if you’re looking for some insight, but we’re more focused on the guidelines right now.

The HomeAway emails have a nice mix of fonts and font sizes. There are enough differences to keep it interesting, but they complement each other and maintain readability.

Colours – Consistent colour choice
HomeAway’s emails are heavy on the blue with white as their secondary colour. This is a great choice for them since blue is the colour of the sea and the sky, two images easily associated with vacation. Blue also symbolizes confidence and loyalty, so they’re subtly communicating with their customers through their colour choices without saying a word.

Since these two colours feature so prominently, the small pops of green and brown in their images underscore the design and give the emails a unified, consistent look.

Whether you’re going with a monochromatic, achromatic, analogous, or complementary colour scheme, keeping colours consistent across your brand make your material instantly recognizable.

Tone – It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it
In your emails, messaging is what you say, and tone is how you say it. While your messaging will change from campaign to campaign, your tone should be well-established and consistent.

These two emails don’t have a ton of written content, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t communicating a brand tone.

Check out the sentences in the headers. The tone is friendly, straightforward, and a bit aspirational. With just a handful of words, they’ve convinced us that we’re too unique to go to a regular hotel, but that we definitely need a fall getaway.

They also understand that the text isn’t necessarily going to drive click-thru rates here. We’re going to be drawn in by the images, so they keep the text minimal and let the images speak for themselves.

Personal connection is the key to a successful campaign, and brand tone is crucial to making that connection. Do you want to be seen as earnest or witty? Unassuming or lighthearted? Straightforward or unexpected? Whatever you decide, make sure that every email you send sounds like it came from the same team.

Enforcing brand guidelines across decentralized & large teams

Enterprise or other large marketing teams have a unique set of challenges here. On teams that are largely decentralized, each department or brand is responsible for sending their own emails, and without strict guardrails in place, it doesn’t take long for each department to develop their own subtle differences.

As decentralization becomes more and more common, even among smaller teams, brand control on a granular level becomes critical to keeping “brand” at the center of your emails and maintaining compliance.

An email creation platform built for enterprises is the easiest, most cost effective way to set and enforce brand guardrails across multiple brands, teams, and locations. And while we hate to steer you in any one direction (just kidding, of course. Knak is the best), we’d like to point out that Knak’s editor for the enterprise can help with this. With Knak, you control your brand’s:

  • Fonts
  • Images
  • Colours
  • Building parameters

Plus, Knak’s platform uses modules instead of templates to build emails, so you can create an unlimited number of pre-approved modules for each brand and department. Your team adds in the content and images, but your approved fonts, layouts, colours, and parameters stay in place.

It’s basically the best of both worlds – creative freedom for your team, strong brand control for your organization. And since the modules are pre-approved and simple to use, your emails get to market quickly.

It also has the added benefit of making sure your emails render properly before they’re sent. After all, great branding means nothing if your recipients get a sub-par email.

Building a better brand

Emails are a key component of your marketing strategy, so make sure your brand is at the center of each one you send.

An email creation platform can be a major timesaver here since it lets you define and enforce brand guardrails, making it easy for anyone to build on-brand emails quickly.

But no matter what you use, if your creative elements are intentionally and thoughtfully designed, your emails will speak volumes, no matter how simple the message.

Want to talk email and branding? 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.

On-Trend: Email Marketing Trends to Watch in 2020

Email marketing trends are nothing new. Trying to make sense of them can be a bit daunting, though. Everywhere you look, you’ll find another list telling you exactly what you should be doing to attract new customers and stay ahead of the competition.

We are marketers ourselves, and our experience on the client side has given us some insight into the trends that can really influence your bottom line and those that are just a flash in the pan.

In reviewing our choices for the top marketing trends of 2020, we took a look at what our customers have to say. After all, some of the best marketers in the world are our customers, so between them and our own team, we’ve got some expert insight close at hand.

Here are the trends we think are poised to have the biggest impact in 2020:

You’re probably already making some of these moves. Some of them are just now becoming possible in today’s MarTech landscape. But all of them can have a lasting impact on your marketing strategy, not just deliver a temporary bump in your KPIs.

Read on, and then weigh in. We’d love to know what trends you’re excited about right now.

Trend #1: Collaboration
As marketing departments trend towards decentralization, the need for collaborative tools is on the rise. In our 2019 Email Benchmark Report, customers noted once again that the collaboration capabilities offered by marketing automation platforms are unhelpful, leading them to rely on third-party integrations to manage workflow.

Even those who don’t use Marketo seem to feel the same way: they’re tired of working in silos, and they need software in their MarTech stack that can keep their team in alignment and their projects on track.

As 2020 kicks off, we think we’re going to see more and more marketing teams adopt collaborative tools and workflow software that manage the details so they can get their emails out the door faster.

We use Asana for project management, and we love that it keeps our projects organized while giving our (largely remote) team a central location to communicate about tasks.


Source: Asana

Workfront and Wrike are other great options for project management.

For email approvals, we drink our own champagne and use Knak’s collaboration tool to streamline the process. Anyone on the approval workflow can provide feedback right in the platform, and it’s easy to track progress through the email center. It makes the approval process much simpler and speeds up our time-to-email.

Trend #2: Mobile-First Design
Rather than just optimizing their designs for mobile, many organizations are turning to mobile-first design. Mobile browsing has surpassed desktop browsing 53% to 37%, and Litmus reports that mobile is the most popular email reading environment, with 42% of all emails being opened on a mobile device. Even mobile purchasing, once a very small percentage of revenue, has increased 23% year-over-year, leading to a push for mobile optimization across digital marketing channels.

A minimalist approach to content and design will help facilitate mobile optimization.

Source: Litmus

While you may not be ready to take a mobile-first approach yet, we wouldn’t be surprised if the bulk of emails are built this way in the near future.

Trend #3: Animated & Live Content
Animated content is a great way to grab interest and boost engagement. Animated CTAs, GIFs, and other short animations draw attention, and they continue to become more prevalent as marketers start to see the benefit. In fact, we use them ourselves in our digital newsletters:

Live content is also gaining popularity, and we love it because it populates any time the email is opened, keeping it up to date and engaging for readers.
Some popular examples: weather forecasts, countdown clocks (usually to the beginning or end of a sale), and sports or survey results, like this example from Xfinity:

Source: Litmus

With this email, readers can see live poll results and add their own voice to the mix. It’s fun, and it adds a level of interactivity that feels fresh.

The main caution here is to make sure your animations are engaging but not overwhelming. Too many flashing objects are distracting — some may even say annoying — and if they’re leading to slow email load times, you’re negating the benefits.

Trend #4: Personalization
Personalization is not new, but as inboxes get more crowded, you need to do it better if you want to stand out.

Fortunately, we’ve got good news: customers are willing to give up more data in order to receive better personalization. In fact, according to a study by Liveclicker, 55% of customers say they prefer email messages containing relevant products and offers.

Check out this example from JetBlue:


Source: HubSpot

This email is in perfect keeping with the brand’s tone, and the personalization is on point: it calls out shared experiences and provides relevant content that’s tailored to the reader.

Other great examples of this include Amazon and Netflix, whose customized product and viewing recommendations draw users back in and keep them engaged.

Note: We recommend Campaign Monitor’s Ultimate Guide to Personalized Email for an in-depth look at email personalization.

Trend #5: Minimalism
A “less is more” approach is king right now, and with good reason. Litmus reports that the average read time for an email is only 13.4 seconds, so you’ve got a very limited amount of time to get your message across.

A clean, minimalistic design feels authentic and allows for easier consumption, but it does not mean your design has to be black and white. Choose a simple color scheme that enhances your branding, like Hawthorne does here:


Source: Really Good Emails

Their design is clean, the content is minimal, and the entire thing is highly scannable. When your emails are this easily digested, you drive the focus toward your CTA, increasing the likelihood that readers will click thru.

A few other benefits here: a minimalistic design is easier to create and easier to make mobile-friendly.

Trend #6: Interactive Email Design
We’re big fans of anything that simplifies the user experience, so asking users to rate or review an item in the body of the email itself gets high marks from us.

Source: Omnisource

This is super easy for users – they don’t have to follow a link to leave a review, and the simple connection between the email content and their instantaneous response encourages a higher level of engagement.

Organizations like Capital One frequently include a brief survey at the bottom of their emails asking users to choose from a set of smiley faces to rate how helpful the email was.
Home Depot and many other retailers use emails like the one above to allow users to instantly rate products. Sephora takes it a step further by letting users pin products directly to their Pinterest boards.

On your end, this kind of discovery will help you tailor your content to make it more relevant and drive participation.

The end goal here is the ultimate interactive email experience: allowing users to check out in an email. The tech isn’t quite ready, but we bet it will be soon, so including some interactive content in your emails now is a great way to stay in step with the trend.

Trend #7: AI & Machine Learning Systems
AI-designed emails may eventually be the holy grail of email personalization. Imagine being able to use exactly the right subject line, product suggestions, and interactive content, and make sure your email is sent at the optimal time.

We’re not quite there yet, but in the meantime, you can start to reap some of the benefits of AI and machine learning, and one of the keys here is modular email design.
Email building programs based on modular design make it easier to use machine learning to insert relevant content into emails based on rules set by the developer. It’s a step in a very future-forward direction, and it’s a trend we’re excited to see unfold.

AI and machine learning aren’t without their drawbacks, of course. Safeguards are needed to keep AI-driven content from seeming, well, artificial.
Note: For a guide to the basics of AI and machine learning, check out How to Use Artificial Intelligence in Email.

Customer Experience > Trends
Times change, right? The world of marketing moves quickly, and the things that were on trend a few years ago have likely been replaced, updated, and modernized.

That’s part of what we love about marketing. We get excited about new tools and new technology, so lists like this have us thinking of a thousand different ways to update our strategy.

But we know that delivering a first-rate customer experience is job #1, so we don’t stress out about trends. We evaluate them through the lens of customer experience, and if it’s something that’s going to make life better for our clients, we work to make it happen.

Want to weigh in? Comment below, and let us know which trends you think will have the biggest impact in 2020.

Our Holiday Marketing Wish List

What we want in our in-boxes this year.

Forget the stockings. We have a holiday wishlist, and it’s got nothing to do with presents. Welcome to our Holiday Marketing Wishlist, where we break down the things we wish Marketers were doing more of, less of, and adding to their playbook for 2020.

It’s just a little insight from our Marketing team to yours. Consider it a one-of-a-kind holiday gift from your friends at Knak.

What we wish Marketers would do more of
Sometimes a little goes a long way. Here are some small marketing moves that have a big impact.

  • Sit in on customer/prospect calls. Even on small teams, there can be a disconnect between sales and marketing. Listen in on your sales team’s calls once in a while to find out what questions they’re being asked and how they’re responding. Understanding your prospect’s perspective can inform your day-to-day approach.
  • Be authentic and provide value to your audience. Not everything needs to end with a sales pitch. Really. Add value with the content you’re sending, and you’ll establish a new level of credibility with your audience.
  • Create a playbook for your repeat projects. You’ll save time, improve quality, and streamline your processes.
  • Do little things that delight your customers. Send a holiday gift to your top customers, branded onesies to clients who’ve had babies, a bottle of wine to clients who won an award, etc. They’re small gestures on your end, but genuine kindness goes a long way.

What we wish Marketers would do less of
Just like we said above, a little goes a long way. Being careless with your strategy is a surefire way to take a great user experience and move it down a few notches. Here are a few things that should be on your “Naughty” list.

  • Sending inauthentic communications. Be genuine with your customers. Believe us, they can tell.
  • Ignoring existing customers. Focusing the bulk of your energy on new prospects is a major mistake. A loyal customer is one of your most valuable assets, and we’d suggest that the most important relationship building you’re going to do is the kind that takes place after they convert.
  • Sending too many emails. When nurture emails overlap, you create a poor user experience. Look at your plan and make sure your content is going out at appropriate intervals.
  • Wasting time in HTML & coding. Don’t waste your valuable (and limited) resources on HTML and coding. Building emails with modules or templates eliminates this roadblock and speeds up your time-to-market. In fact, we’d be happy to recommend a product that can help you out with this. We hate to see friends waste time!

What we wish Marketers knew
Ok, we covered the basics. Now, here are some next-level marketing moves to help you up your game in the new year.

  • Focus on the content, not the tactics. Trying new tactics is great, but if you’re constantly changing your approach to drive click-thru rates, there’s a good chance your content is all over the place. Don’t try to trick readers into opening emails. Customers need to understand what to expect from you, so make sure your content strategy is cohesive, intuitive, and adds value.
  • Understand your audience. Keyword research is SO important here. Find out what your audience is interested in, and use it to add value to your content. Include external links to content your audience will appreciate – you’re not directing traffic away from your site. You’re establishing your site as a central location for valuable resources.
  • Make sure your presentation reflects your brand. When your audience sees your content, is it distinctively yours? These three components work together to communicate your distinct brand identity: Content, tone, and design.
    This may seem basic, but you’d be surprised how many organizations ignore one or more of these in their rush to get emails out the door. Don’t cut corners. Sending under-developed or hastily designed content does more harm than good and will lead readers to make a negative connection with your brand.
    *Note: For some great design tips, check out our UI/UX Designer’s blog, or Quicksprout’s Ultimate Guide to Creating Visually Appealing Content.
  • Build amazing landing pages. Yes, your emails should look amazing, and your CTAs need to be compelling. But don’t ignore what happens next. Your landing page is key to conversions, and it should be designed just as thoughtfully as your emails. Stay tuned for some exciting landing page news from Knak, but HubSpot has some great landing page design tips in the meantime.

Thanks for checking out our wishlist, readers. Have something to add? Comment below and let us know what’s on your Holiday Marketing Wishlist. Cheers to a new year of amazing emails!

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.