“Good artists copy; great artists steal.”
That quote, attributed to Pablo Picasso, has been the source of heated debates inside and outside the art world. What did one of the 20th century’s most original artists mean?
It’s up for debate. But when it comes to email marketing, we’ve used this phrase to develop the Picasso Method: The Picasso Method is an approach to help businesses that have recently begun their ecommerce marketing journey learn how to become quickly proficient at all facets of email marketing. In essence, we share tips that will help you learn from the best ecommerce email marketing and apply it to your own business.
Specifically, this four-step method will share:
- How to find great emails to use as inspiration
- Why and what to gain from studying marketing thought leaders
- Why to take part in peer groups and organizations
- How to derive valuable email marketing ideas from the brands that you love
Essentially, we’ve taken Picasso’s quote and embraced it from the perspective that, while every business should have a unique point of view on its ecommerce product, your brand can use work that’s already successfully done to help formulate its own great email marketing.
Let’s detail each of the four steps so you can launch your own campaigns based on what you learn.
1. Study email templates out in the real world.
Spend some time looking at emails that other ecommerce brands use.
You’ll find a massive collection of email design examples on Really Good Emails. The website, which has been around since 2014, boasts more than 4,000 emails for marketing professionals to see and learn from.
This repository of curated emails gives you examples across various industries and niches, offering visual inspiration on how to use photography, illustration, and layout to make your emails compelling. Plus, you can study different styles of copywriting, too.
By exploring Really Good Emails, your business can identify key elements in branding and how those elements correlate overall with a planned email marketing campaign.
“Matthew Smith and his squad over at Really Good Emails have been collecting email designs like baseball cards since at least 2014 when the domain was first registered, and ever since then they’ve featured thousands of emails from all kinds of businesses,” writes Jon Moore, a senior design partner at Innovatemap.
For example, here’s an email featured on Really Good Emails: It’s an abandoned cart email from Saatchi Art, showcasing a great balance between copy, layout, and design.
2. Read and follow leading email marketing resources.
One way to keep up with trends and how others use email marketing is to follow thought leaders in the email marketing niche.
Those voices have already gained authority through success. Thought leadership in action ultimately has value to your business. The 2019 Edelman–LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study found that 55% of B2B decision-makers use thought leadership to evaluate potential vendors and suppliers.
Marketing thought leaders will challenge you to view email marketing from different perspectives. By reading and following these leaders’ social accounts, you can extend the marketing brainpower of your small team (which might be just yourself).
When possible, engage in dialogue with these experts. Ask questions and exchange ideas. You may also find other regular, engaged readers of these thought leaders and can begin to network and learn from them as well.
Expand your knowledge about all things email marketing by reading this post on the 25 email marketing influencers you need to follow.
3. Join and interact with ecommerce business leaders in marketing communities relevant to your niche.
For ecommerce, there are Facebook and LinkedIn groups you can learn from among other communities across the internet. There are also associations dedicated to marketing, and ecommerce has become an increasingly vital emphasis for these groups.
Here are 10 LinkedIn groups focused on marketing technology, for example. And here’s a list of 15 LinkedIn groups that tackle marketing generally. The Digital Marketing group alone has more than 1 million participants.
On Facebook, many groups spend their time collaborating on how to market on the platform, but several also are more general marketing communities. Here’s a list of 17 groups for marketers available on the social platform.
Just like spending time diving into thought leadership, engaging with like-minded professionals through association events, forums, and other activities expands your knowledge base. It also helps you identify peers with comparable marketing challenges so you can learn from them and avoid potential pitfalls.
4. Get inspired by the email campaigns of brands you admire.
It can be daunting as a small business in a vertical packed with major brands that have household name recognition. But that doesn’t mean your business can’t take a cue from one of these brands or find an idea worth using as a launchpad for your own successful marketing approach.
Yes, you can and should be inspired by the biggest and best brands in your niche.
Find out how these major organizations tick. Look for the ways you can create similar campaigns. The simplest and most direct way to do this is to engage them as a customer would: Join their mailing lists, browse their websites, abandon your shopping cart, maybe even make a purchase.
When you see what they’re doing, you’ll be able to identify things you want to appropriate for your own ecommerce business, for your own customers. You’ll see how you can take those experiences with a brand you admire and imbue them in your own email marketing campaigns.
This example is from Chatbooks as they built an email campaign featuring babies and families.
Of course, helping customers preserve memories is the company’s mission. What’s your mission, and how could your business take a comparable emotion-inducing approach?
REI created a marketing campaign that serves up an alternative to Black Friday shopping that aligns perfectly with its product offerings.
With #OptOutside, REI encourages its own employees and customers to take outdoor adventures—that ultimately its products and services are intricately and intimately tied to. How could you create a similar email strategy that makes your customers sit up and take notice because it’s not about the direct sell?
Consider the time and resources you spend on the Picasso Method an investment in developing your business, making yourself smarter and more creative as an ecommerce marketer.
Remember the four steps are not a one-and-done. Take them whenever you need to feel rejuvenated and want fresh ideas for your email marketing:
- Study email templates out in the real world.
- Read and follow leading email marketing resources.
- Join and interact with ecommerce business leaders in marketing communities relevant to your niche.
- Get inspired by the email campaigns of brands you admire.
Picasso never stopped innovating as an artist—you shouldn’t as an ecommerce business. From welcome emails to re-engagement campaigns and beyond, we seamlessly integrate with your ecommerce platforms—Magento, Shopify, and WooCommerce—so you’ll have all the features you need to exceed your goals.
CM Commerce features:
- Pre-made conversion campaigns to recover revenue from abandoned carts
- Follow-up segmented and personalized emails for cross-selling
- Product reviews that spotlight your happy customers and build trust (and sales)
- Automated feedback to increase repeat revenue
- Ready-to-go templates or custom receipts, coupons, and rewards with your branding