There’s nothing like a beautiful email. Some emails look more like works of art than marketing assets. FontShop, one of the world’s largest typeface resellers, consistently creates flawlessly designed emails that support their products and their mission.
Berlin-based FontShop caters to a large community of designers looking for the perfect font, and strives to provide its audience with the latest and most beautiful font options. FontShop focuses on design more than the average company, and their email campaigns are no exception. The brand sees email marketing as an essential part of what they do, regarding each email as a product in itself, worthy of impeccable design.
We talked to Alexander Roth, Lead Graphic Designer at FontShop, as well as Angie Poon, Nils Töpfer, and Alexandra Schwarzwald to learn how FontShop excels in email marketing through the use of beautiful emails.
How do you use email marketing at FontShop? What email campaigns do you send?
Alexander: We have three different kinds of emails at FontShop. Our main marketing vehicle is our “Letternews” newsletter. It is an extensive email featuring a selection of around five new fonts, one spotlighted type foundry, recent Font News articles as well as the latest font promotions. We send these out every two weeks.
The second type of email is called, “Type Snippet.” As the name implies, it is a much shorter one. In these emails we highlight only one topic: It might for instance be a release of a new typeface and/or a special promotion for our customers. We don’t have any set schedule for these emails – we send them on a one-off basis.
Our third kind of newsletter is a direct mailing. The intent is to inform customers about an update of a product they already bought and reward them for a potential purchase by offering an exclusive discount.
Do you segment your lists?
Nils: We have two different lists—one for German and one for English customers. The English list is much larger, with 250,000 subscribers from around the world, and we need to find the optimal send time for different regions. For example, we want all our subscribers to receive the newsletter at 10 in the morning, no matter where they are. So we’ve segmented our English list based on three regions: Asia and Australia, Europe, and the Americas.
Why do you focus on well-designed emails? Why a design-first approach?
Design – as we understand it – is structure seasoned with a pinch of sensuality. Our paramount goal is to make sure the design of our newsletter is both aesthetic and comfortable for the eyes. Design needs to be benevolent, and beautiful emails are a vehicle to pay respect to our valued customers. Anything but design-first wouldn’t feel natural to us.
How do you ensure your emails look amazing every time?
Alexander: It is all about the content and the packaging. In terms of content, we have our typefaces which are inherently beautiful and honest. If you can’t read a typeface, it is a bad product, per definition. Since our newsletters consist mostly of type specimens, it couldn’t be easier to design gorgeous artworks. Simply set one of our typefaces on a plain background and it will turn it into visual poetry.
All the content is wrapped by our Campaign Monitor template. It is fully customizable and, therefore, a powerful tool to implement a conceptual constant and yet allow us to play with the visual variables.
Desktop and mobile version in comparison:
How did you design this newsletter template?
The template was developed together with newsletter specialists from Launch/Co which made our work lives so much easier. No open-heart surgeries on HTML and CSS files anymore. Paste in the copy, upload the images using Campaign Monitor’s template editor, and you’re set.
When designing the template we tried to adopt the visual grammar of our fontshop.com website for the newsletter. You can see the coherence in colors, buttons and the web fonts (FF Yoga Sans is used both on fontshop.com and in the newsletter) when comparing the two.
One more crucial element that ties our website and the newsletter together are the web fonts (FF Yoga Sans is used both on FontShop.com and in the newsletter). Since we’re not only licensing fonts for desktop and apps, but also for the use on the web, it is essential for us to lead by example and implement web fonts in our own messaging channels such as the newsletter. Especially for the “Type Snippets,” we are alternating the web fonts according to the product we focus on. In this way, the text becomes a type product itself.
Further developments of the template were steered by customer feedback and Campaign Monitor’s A/B tests. The A/B tests especially helped us a lot to refine the specimen images we use in our newsletters. We weren’t sure what subscribers were expecting and designed lots of mockups showing the typefaces on fictitious websites, packaging and book covers. As a surprise, it turned out that subscribers responded better to just seeing the plain typeface on a neutral background. Our conclusion is that mockups actually limited what fonts could do.
Do you have a shining success story of email marketing you can share?
Alexander: One of our best campaigns was a collaboration with LiveSurface Images. We’re big fans of the company, and they supplied us with images that were perfect with our typefaces. It turned out the most beautiful newsletter we ever did. We coupled high-quality typefaces with high-quality mockup images.
Another successful campaign was when we featured a new typeface designed by Erik Spiekermann. The email focused on one new typeface and offered a limited edition poster if purchasing a collection. The posters were gone within two weeks despite the rather expensive price for the whole collection:
What’s the relationship between email and revenue at FontShop?
Our newsletter revenue is essential for us– it’s one of the biggest drivers of purchases for FontShop. That’s why we pay so much attention to the emails, always trying to make them as good as possible.
Usually, we see results immediately after a newsletter goes out, but we also see purchases for weeks after, and we see waves of purchases going on. Even after a few months, people are still buying from the same newsletter. They may be working on a project that requires a certain font, and they go back to the newsletter to find it.
Pro tip: You can use Google Analytics to track revenue from email marketing with Campaign Monitor’s Google Analytics integration.
What about other channels besides email marketing?
Alexander: FontShop.com is heavily focused on content production. We create useful and educational content that can help our customers to find the right typeface for a specific project they are working on.
One very important tool is Google Adwords, of course. We have campaigns related to the newsletters that we send out. We combine our newsletter campaigns with our Google AdWords efforts. Communications remain consistent on style, message, and feel.
What advice would you give to another company using email marketing?
Alexander: First of all: use web fonts. Any email design can be turned into a beautiful and more engaging newsletter in a second. Typefaces are the most obvious way to express the tone of your language. You are different, you don’t want to speak and sound like everyone else, do you?
Segmentation has also worked really well for us. We’ve established a schedule where we send out newsletters at a specific time based on geographic location, and we’ve found that this has really improved our open and click-through rates.
We’ve benefited greatly from email and know that other companies can do so as well.
FontShop incorporates email into everything they do, treating each email more like a product than a marketing campaign. They’ve developed a gorgeous template making it easy to send out beautiful newsletters and email campaigns, and you can too.