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What Inclusion Really Means: Pride Month Edition

As creative people and marketers, we spend a lot of time thinking about the relationship between people and brand. Hours of sorting through data trying to determine if a particular ad, campaign, color, or headline was a huge success or a massive flop (or worse—totally neutral, revealing very little of value).  We can get really obsessed, trying to get in the mind of the customer and understand them on a deeper psychological level that they don’t even understand. I spend a lot of time reading blogs and books, or attending webinars, trying to understand why this and not that. “Why did this button copy have a better click rate than this one?” “Why did people seem to prefer this background color so much more than the other?” Often, authors or webinar hosts will reference Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs when explaining the relationship between psychology and marketing. If you’re not familiar, the Hierarchy of Needs is a framework by Abraham Maslow which theorizes that people are motivated by five basic categories of needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. It’s also, conveniently, represented in a rainbow. The framework is simple, but the ideas here are complex. While much time has been spent diving into each of these categories, today, I’m going to spend time on that middle piece — love and belonging. Cultivating a sense of belonging Ever shown up to a party by yourself? It’s terrifying. If you are like me, your first move is to make a beeline towards the bar. After that, I usually find myself scanning the room for someone I know or someone who looks familiar to me. I feel instantly more comfortable in situations when I see representation. It moves me from safety needs to belonging needs. So what does this relationship look like between brands and their customers? You have probably noticed the recent trend for brands changing their logos to the various LQBTQIA flags for pride month. LinkedIn, Spotify, Airbnb, and loads of others have jumped in on this trend. Other brands have released rainbow limited edition products like Vans, Apple, Skittles, and Adidas. Some brands are even sponsoring pride content on streaming services like Hulu. Don’t get me wrong, the more representation the better. But, inclusion is more than throwing up a rainbow flag for a month. Inclusion requires empathy, and empathy requires understanding. I am welcoming of all types of inclusion, but if you are looking to create lasting relationships with certain communities, you must tap into the psychological need we all have as humans to belong and feel like equals. This level of representation is still very rare for most brands. Watch these two commercials and tell me what is different. Campbells: This ad, while cute and representative, still has the punchline around being gay. Wells Fargo: This ad is not about being gay. It’s about being a family. You could easily swap the couple out for any gender or orientation. It was written with a couple in mind, not a gay couple. Why not just write a great script and cast people, of any kind? Why limit yourself by saying these have to be a specific way? I have always found it interesting that, as marketers, we feel like we have to write specific things for specific people rather than focusing on a great story or punchline. That’s hard enough on its own. You need visibility and representation, but in a way that doesn’t frame the queer community as outsiders, but as people. Just like everyone else. This is important from a human-to-human level — trying to see past stereotypes and misconceived notions of what you think a person is like, and actually getting to know them for who they are, and what is important to them.  Belonging and love needs (from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) are only met when we take the extra step as marketers to see and understand that all people just want to be seen and shown as equals — not as props or checkboxes. Small steps toward inclusivity If you are a marketer looking for more ways to ensure you are being inclusive, here are a few things you can do: Audit your sites and other marketing materials to ensure the photography or illustrations represent an equal balance of all people in authentic situations. Include pronouns in profiles and signatures (if you aren’t already). Push back on clients, managers, co-workers if there is feedback around inclusion and diversity. Tip: If you are dealing with people who want to talk numbers have them google “pink money” and the rise of LQBTQIA buying power. Share your platform with members of the LQBTQIA community throughout the year rather than just seeking them out in the month of June. Collaborate with them on things other than LGBTQIA content, and allow them the space to speak about areas of passion or expertise. There is nothing more inspiring for a young professional who is a badass in their career, and just happens to be out. Above all else, check your own bias as a leader to make sure you are leading and inspiring the team around you to care about these issues. Extra Credit: Visit your local HRC branch and spend some time with people who work there. Understand what the LGBTQIA is still fighting for and what they need from local businesses in terms of support.

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Blog Post

Getting Back to The Office: An Evening with Dunder Mifflin’s Finest

According to Michael Scott, “Real business is done on paper.” Considering we help companies send more than 180 billion personalized emails every year, however, we have other opinions. Regardless of how you do business, though, the last year has been full of changes. After all, who thought you’d be balancing Wi-Fi priorities between your work and school Zoom calls? Or that you’d forget what wearing pants all day feels like? We’ve been away from work for so long that many of us have forgotten our favorite parts about office culture. So, how will things like Casual Friday, coworker gossip, and coffee breaks change as a result of this ‘new normal?’ The Future of Work? The truth is, nobody has all the answers. So, we asked two of our favorite accountants to lead Back to The Office: An Evening with Dunder Mifflin’s Finest. And while Chili’s wasn’t at 100% capacity yet, this virtual experience still brought Kevin, Oscar, and hundreds of marketers together to discuss the future of office life. If you weren’t there, you missed out on an intimate, hour-long Q&A session with Brian Baumgartner and Oscar Nunez that covered topics like: The art of prop comedy What they’ve both been learning and doing at home during the pandemic Untold, behind-the-scenes stories from the set of The Office Their predictions about the future of office culture Fortunately, for the next month you can access our full recording of this experience. Simply click here, enter ‘dundies’ into the password prompt, sit back, and enjoy!

Blog Post

Demystifying Deliverability: How to Relaunch Your Email Marketing Post-Shutdown

Covid had a big impact on sending emails in 2020 and as businesses adjust to consumer changes post-vaccine rollout in 2021, it’s important to take a moment and assess your email marketing strategy.  While we understand the need and urgency for marketers to communicate with their audience, it’s also important to be mindful of the impact these emails have not only on your sender reputation, but also the experience of the person receiving them.  As your trusted email service provider, the deliverability of your emails and protecting your (and our) sender reputation is top priority for us! We’ve listed some key factors to consider before sending your next email. Permission to send emails is not evergreen Permission to send emails can expire quickly as people forget where and how they signed up to your email list. This is especially true if you haven’t been in regular email contact with your subscribers in the last 12 months. People who shopped, dined, interacted with you 1-5 years ago are unlikely to remember who you are, how you collected their email address, and will wonder why they’re suddenly receiving your emails.  Sending emails to an unengaged list with many inactive addresses will cause engagement and delivery issues like low open rates, high bounce and unsubscribe rates, and potentially high spam complaint rates. These metrics are used by mailbox providers (Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft, B2B domains) to determine your sender reputation and how to treat your emails.  A good sender reputation means your emails will be delivered to the inbox and a poor sender reputation will result in your emails being blocked or filtered as spam.  Audit and segment your database by subscriber activity Before you send your next campaign we highly recommend auditing your database and segmenting your list based on user activity and engagement. This helps you to determine: Your most engaged subscribers who have opened an email or clicked a link in the last 12 months Your most recent subscribers who have opted in for your emails in the last 12 months Contacts with online activity in the last 12 months, such as online purchases, website visits, account activity, active paid subscriptions Your most inactive and unengaged subscribers who do not meet the above criteria for the last 12 months If you’ve been in regular contact with your list over the last 12 months you can continue sending emails as usual to your engaged subscribers, and you may consider sending a re-engagement email to your inactive or unengaged users. However, if you haven’t regularly emailed your list—sending at least 1 or 2 emails every 6 months—then you will need to carefully ramp-up sending emails to your full list.  Any subscriber who has shown no activity or engagement in over 12 months should be removed from your list, as sending to these “ghost” contacts will only harm your sender reputation. You also risk emailing spam traps and landing on an anti-spam blocklist. Ramping-up emails to your full list Your sender reputation is tied to your sending domain — which is everything after the “@” in your From email address. Depending on when you last emailed your full list and the size of your list, you may need to slowly train mailbox providers that your emails are legitimate and your subscribers want to receive them. To re-build your domain reputation, send an email to a smaller segment of your list and monitor how your subscribers respond in the next 24 hours. If you see good delivery and engagement metrics, like open rates above 10%, bounce rates under 4% and spam complaints around 0.02%, you can then double the volume for your next campaign and again review the results after 24 hours.  It is crucial to review your results after every campaign to assess the impact the increase in email volume has on your overall results, and take steps to address any underlying engagement issues before ramping-up to your full list.  Review your results after every campaign Your subscribers are the best source of information on how well your emails are performing. Review your campaign reports after each campaign to see how active and engaged your audience is, and also to track any negative signals like a drop in open rate or a spike in bounces of spam complaints. These metrics highlight any engagement and delivery issues which in turn directly impact your sender reputation and the success of your future campaigns. Campaign Monitor users can also use the Insights section in your account to easily track user engagement over time. Campaign Monitor Insights Email delivery and engagement issues are often a symptom of how emails are collected and managed, and reviewing both can highlight the underlying cause of these issues. Are your lists permission based where people have directly opted in for your emails? Is your online form secure from spambot attacks with a reCAPTCHA? Have you set up DKIM authentication for your sending domain? Are you re-engaging your less engaged contacts and removing dormant “ghost” contacts?  Following these recommended deliverability practices is the best way to maximise user engagement and minimize deliverability issues.  Wrap up Your subscribers’ inboxes, similar to your own mailbox, may be inundated with emails right now from brands they were once connected with. Now is the time to think like a subscriber, and send relevant, wanted content to engage your audience and make your emails stand out from the crowd.  By focusing on your most active and engaged audience, you’re building and maintaining your domain’s sender reputation, and helping your emails successfully land in the inbox.  Remember to keep your emails personal, helpful, concise, and relevant to show respect for your subscriber’s inbox, build brand loyalty and a lasting engaging relationship. 

Blog Post

How Clients Benefit From Branded Email

Agencies and marketers can benefit from offering branded email campaigns to their clients. However, some might struggle to convey how branded email campaigns contribute to better results for their clients.  In this article, we’re sharing the biggest benefits your clients may experience by opting for branded emails.  Cultivate a sense of familiarity and recognition With a signature style, readers will quickly come to recognize your clients’ emails in their inboxes. Even incorporating a brand’s color alone has been shown to increase brand recognition by as much as 80%.  This has strong implications for how often subscribers will open your clients’ emails and how favorably they will respond. For example, TGI Golf, a collective group of elite PGA Professionals, found that their branded emails led to an incredible 58% average open rate. TGI’s Head of Communications, Mark Millard, attributes this success to how Campaign Monitor’s drag-and-drop builder makes it easy to create branded campaigns for their clients: “The ease-of-use, particularly the email builder, has been extremely helpful with what we are trying to accomplish. Making changes is a quick, easy, and stress-free experience for me as a marketer.” Check out how recognizable this branded email campaign is by one of TGI’s clients: Image source. Boost brand trustworthiness through brand consistency Brand consistency is crucial to making sure consumers trust the brand.  A 2019 survey found that 24.5% of company leaders reported that inconsistent branding led to confusion in the market, and 18.6% reported that inconsistent branding led to a damaged company reputation. Additionally, 60% of company leaders said that having a consistent brand was “very important” for generating leads.  Breakdowns in brand consistency can feel jarring for consumers. If a company’s email marketing doesn’t closely match the branding on their socials or website, consumers will likely lose trust in the brand and emails will be less effective. For example, compare this branded email campaign by surf company, Rip Curl, to their other marketing:  Image source. Image source. Across their marketing channels, the Rip Curl brand remains consistent, with a consistent logo, consistent fonts and colors, and similar image choices. To help with consistency in your emails, it’s worth creating one or two custom email marketing templates to keep each piece of communication on brand. Strengthen brand meaning beyond the product or service A key role that branding plays is creating meaning beyond the product or service.  Branding goes beyond a company’s visual identity, helping to convey a company’s core values to consumers. And values are becoming more and more important: 77% of consumers want to buy from brands that share their values If a client has a strong brand, it’s vital that the brand be infused into their email marketing so that consumers continue to recognize the brand for its identity and values. In turn, it’s likely that strong, branded emails will lead to increased revenue.  For example, Bluetent, a digital marketing agency, found that using custom branded emails for their clients increased revenue by $50,000.  Ryan Austin, Bluetent’s Director of Marketing, appreciates that Campaign Monitor’s email builder allows them to code their own emails for their clients: “Ultimately, we went with Campaign Monitor because we felt that the platform was extremely innovative and perfectly aligned with our goals. The app offers an entire portfolio of templates, but we also have the freedom to code and implement our own.”  For example, check out one of the branded client emails Bluetent created:  Image source. Wrap Up When it comes to standing out in crowded consumer inboxes, the best strategy is to create strong, branded emails. Branded emails help consumers quickly recognize a brand in their inbox, feel more secure trusting the brand, and remember the brand’s values. 

Blog Post

What Great Email Design Looks Like for Nonprofits In 2021

What does a great email design look like in the nonprofit space? Is it form or function? Style or substance? A well-designed email can mean the difference between your readers clicking through your email and donating or not even bothering to open it.  Today we’re going to talk about components that make up a great email in 2021, such as having a snappy headline, straightforward copywriting, and simple template design. Grab your reader’s attention Any non-profit looking to drive donations needs a watertight email strategy. It’s a great way to show readers the impact of their donations and how you’re putting their money to good use.  The first step you need to take is getting them to notice you.  A well-designed email with great copy jumps out at the reader from the inbox. It’s hard to resist and demands attention. So, how do you achieve this effect? Let’s start at the beginning. Nail the subject line Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it’s an excellent tactic for writing subject lines. If you can leverage curiosity, you can intrigue your reader into opening your email.  A great subject line: Highlights the benefits of opening the email Is concise enough to get the message across without giving too much away Is personalized to the reader Spend time writing various subject lines until you find the perfect fit. You only get one chance to interest your reader with the subject line, so make it count.  Keep it simple Too many people make the mistake of designing overly complicated emails. While they can look great, it’s not always the best format for email newsletters.  Simple, mobile-friendly templates with one to three columns are effective because you can use them to direct your reader’s eye to the most critical components of your email. Source: UNICEF This email by UNICEF is a great example for several reasons: It uses the inverted pyramid design to guide readers through the email It uses powerful images to invoke readers’ emotions It has a simple message and a clear call to action Clear, engaging copy When you study the structure of an email that converts well, you’ll notice there’s a certain something about it. What makes such emails capture readers’ attention?  It’s simple: Punchy, concise copy. Most people don’t read email copy in its entirety—they skim. This can be used to work in your favor. Just design your email to include blocks of text with eye-catching copy. Once the first sentence hooks them, keep them reading until they get to the most important part—the call-to-action. In the non-profit space, this is typically an ask for a donation. Source: WWT This email by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust is doing several things right: They’re emphasizing their key message: Donate. The donate-specific links and buttons are highlighted in orange throughout to draw attention.  The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust also uses specific language like “now is a crucial moment” and “wetland wildlife needs your help like never before” to create a sense of urgency. It’s worth taking a moment to talk about the effects COVID-19 has had on nonprofits and email marketing. COVID-19 has put a lot of charities under pressure. Vulnerable people are even worse off, and that’s something you can discuss honestly with your readers. Open rates, click-through rates, and email signups have soared during the pandemic, so you need to think about how to make the most of your email list with design and content curation. Well-arranged content Finally, the way you arrange the elements in your email is essential.  Use the inverted pyramid principle to direct your readers’ attention to those parts of your email that contain the most important information.  That means starting with an eye-catching headline, then have a few sentences of supporting information, and top it off with a clear CTA at the bottom of the pyramid (i.e. click here). Wrap up Now you know how to design an email that stands out and drives donations. You’ve learned the importance of keeping eyeballs on screen, simple templates to focus reader attention, and the power of clear copy. If you’re ready to take your email strategy to the next level, Campaign Monitor is here to help.  But before you run off and launch your nonprofit email campaign, be sure to read our ultimate guide to email campaign design.  

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