Writing for mobile-optimized emails

Writing for mobile audiences is actually much simpler than you’d think.

It’s all about being what I like to call “skimmable” – someone should be able to read your email while scrolling at a normal speed and get the major points. You’ve got about 3 seconds to grab a reader’s attention before they move on, so make good use of it with succinct copy, relevant content, and lots of highly breathable white space.

Here are some tips:

#1: Channel Joey Gladstone and cut it out
The biggest difference between a desktop email and a mobile one is the amount of room you have to work with. Because the device width is smaller, you have to be even more fierce with your editing. Every word counts, so if it’s fluffy or unnecessary, get rid of it.

The goal with mobile-friendly email design (and just good marketing design, period) is to be easily digested and understood. Be skimmable (despite what your high school English teacher said, sentence fragments are allowed), use active speech, and tell your customers to click through for full details (which should live on your landing page).

A prime example of short and sweet copy used in a gorgeous design.

#2: Make a plan (and stick to it).
Before you start designing, decide exactly what you want to address (i.e., make a content hierarchy) and be ruthless with yourself if you start deviating.

For example, let’s say that my email is dropping on a Friday morning and I’ve got a TGIF sale planned, an in-store event on Sunday, tons of clearance merchandise that I need to move, and a slew of new products arriving on Tuesday.

As tempting as it may seem to pack all of this into one email, I’m not going to. Think about it this way… you just got a brand new pint of Chunky Monkey. You know you could dive in face-first and house the entire thing directly from the container, but should you? Clearly not. As delicious a choice as that would be, do the right thing: go get a bowl and decide how much you really need.

So in our scenario, we need to figure out how much our readers need in one sitting. What’s the #1 most important thing we absolutely need to get across right now? I’d say the TGIF sale, and because it’s so timely and important, it’s totally OK to stop there and call it a day. Sending an email out with just 1 thing that’s compelling and relevant is a great idea.

But, if you really want more, it would be OK to add just one more thing, so let’s determine what’s #2. Depending on whether or not this is the last email of the weekend, I’m going to say it’s either the in-store event or the clearance goodies. Now I’m going to stop there and make this email with just those 2 things. I’ll give my #1 priority a ton of real estate to really hype it up, put #2 below that, and stop designing.

This brand chose to say just one thing (aside from their permanent social content) and it's marvelous. 

This email literally tells you what the top story is (not that they had to since they made it front and center) and makes everything else secondary.

#3: Images are your BFF.
People process images 60,000x faster than they read words (it’s science), so lean heavily on them to create an emotional connection and tell your story in far fewer words. Lifestyle images (those that feature people in real-life situations) tend to be the most emotionally grabby, but also try playing around with iconography to save space and create visual interest.

Just two bits of content in this email, each with a perfectly chosen image.
Without all the images, this email would be very dry and copy-heavy. Adding product images and photography in a zig-zag layout adds visual interest and makes it feel lighter.

This brand eliminated a lot of excess words from its design just by adding icons. Sentence fragments for the win!

#4 Use social proof
Your customers are on their phones constantly, so use the opportunity to weave user-generated social media content into your emails. If you’re fortunate enough to have customers who post pictures of your products, that is pure gold. Incorporating their images along with your own content will make for a much more compelling message, and you get the added bonus of acquiring a few new followers.

Social images are like product images and product reviews in one -- a double-whammy of "you should totally buy this, see how great it is?!"

#5 Be clickworthy & clickable
So by now, your email should be the right length, feature interesting images, and include relevant social proof. There’s just one more thing you need: calls to action.

Call-to-action buttons (or CTAs if you want to get all jargony) are incredibly important on mobile emails, and you need to make sure they’re big enough to be tapped. There’s nothing worse than tapping the wrong link, so 40px is the smallest dimension you want to be working with on mobile devices. If your CTA is within a larger image, make sure that when it scales down, it’s still big enough to tap comfortably.

You should also play around with phrasing. “Shop Now” can work well and is very traditional, but it’s certainly overdone. I encourage you to be creative and have as much fun as your brand allows.

All CTAs are sufficiently large, even the one that's over top of an image, and the copy is just spicy enough to make you want to click.

This brand clearly knows their customer base. "Shop Newness" is a perfect little tweak on "Shop Now" that adds some personality. Buttons are big enough to tap and well placed.

*Note about the right amount of content.
Ultimately, you just have to know your customers. How old are they? What are their habits? Are they natural-born scrollers or is their attention span super quick?

Some brands thrive on massively long emails. Take Dot & Bo, for example (RIP, my gone-too-soon wonderland of décor). Their emails were unbelievably longbut you’d better believe I scrolled through every single one of them because their content was marvelously curated. A well-deserved post-mortem round of applause to whomever was in charge of those beauties.

Questions? Let us know!

Laurel Morse
Manager of Copywriting and Content Strategy

Know the basics of Facebook targeting

By Listrak Product Manager Matt Vollmer for the October issue of Internet Retailer

In the United States, we spend 50 minutes on average each day on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. That’s a lot of time, and we’re often in a state of mind to be influenced by effective and relevant marketing.
As Facebook users, we can probably recall the last few sponsored ads and posts that resonated with us. As Facebook marketers, however, it can be challenging to build the ideal audiences that will be positively influenced by our ads and content. With so many targeting capabilities available to us, we can sometimes experience paralysis through analysis.
If we take it back to the basics, however, and build upon fundamentals, we can efficiently target audiences in a way that drives a positive response without breaking the bank. Here are a few audiences we can explore to jumpstart our Facebook marketing strategies.
Retargeting website visitors
A staple of most Facebook marketing strategies is retargeting users who visited our websites. The technique is a staple for a simple reason: It works! In an era when we pay a premium in paid search and site optimizations to attract qualified visitors, we need to put as many strategies in place to re-engage visitors who don’t convert during their first visit.
This tactic is highly effective for emerging retailers and established retailers alike. It’s also incredibly easy. Simply install the Facebook pixel on every page of your website and give Facebook at least a week to build your audience of website visitors. You’ve now unlocked the opportunity to reach a very specific audience with many types of Facebook ads.
If you’ve already taken this step, but it has been a while since you’ve look at your Facebook pixel code, make sure you’re using the most current version. Facebook discontinued a few older tracking features this fall.
While you are likely familiar with this audience type, here are a few key things for e-retailers to consider:
Regardless of how much traffic your site receives, this audience is limited in size.
Set your lifetime or weekly budgets too high and you may exhaust this audience rather quickly. Watch your relevance score, conversion rate and frequency metrics to ensure you’re not over-delivering your ads to this audience.
Think through your visitors’ journeys before retargeting all website visitors.
We’ve all seen ads for products or services we already purchased. Even the best technologies and processes won’t stop this from happening in every scenario. However, we can limit those experiences. For example, if you’re running a Facebook lead ad to acquire email addresses of anonymous visitors, then don’t forget to exclude your current subscriber list when building your Custom Audience.
Reach this audience with dynamic content.
The dawn of dynamic ads—which used to be called dynamic product ads—demonstrated how easy it was to be highly relevant to visitors who abandoned their shopping cart or product page. With dynamic ads, you can retarget users with the last product they viewed on your site and additional recommendations driven by Facebook data. This ad type does require additional website integrations and a product catalog, so it’s not as plug-and-play as regular retargeting, but the payoffs are worth it.
One of the lowest hanging fruits for e-retail marketers to pick is to get consumers who’ve expressed a very high level of purchase intent, such as by adding products to a cart but then abandoning it, to opt in to the marketing list. This group also comprises purchasers who may not have subscribed at the time of purchase. Reaching this audience with a small offer on Facebook is a great way to reengage them and convert them into purchasers and/or subscribers. Some retailers we’ve tested Facebook lead ads with have seen costs as low as 40 cents per acquisition. This is a small price to pay for a valuable subscriber’s consent.
Here are three tips to remember when targeting this audience:
Babysit your high budget campaigns.
While it may be tempting to throw a large budget at this audience, don’t forget it is limited in size. Be timely and relevant with this audience, but don’t overdeliver. If you do wish to run this campaign with a hefty budget, be prepared to watch its performance and hit the kill switch when the audience shows indications of exhaustion.
Update your Custom Audiences.
This is possibly the biggest time suck for marketers. Add and remove contacts from your Custom Audience as frequently as possible. Think about how often you’re acquiring email addresses of reachable cart abandoners, browse abandoners and purchasers. No one enjoys manual processes, but this will ensure that you’re being relevant to the right people.
Use detailed targeting based on purchase behaviors and life events.
This is one of the best kept secrets in Facebook’s Ads Manager. Most of us know that we can target audiences by interests, job titles and employers, but did you know that the behaviors category is based on propensity to purchase from any given product category? This is an excellent way to narrow a broad audience, for example a lookalike audience based on your best repeat purchasers.
The other best kept secret is targeting by life events. You’ve most likely seen life events show up in your news feed when friends’ relationship status changes or when their employment changes. As Facebook users, we see these events as an opportunity to share a quick “congrats,” but as marketers we should do our best to leverage these events. A real-world example of this is when I began seeing mobile ads that focused on my upcoming one-year wedding anniversary. While I didn’t purchase from this advertiser, it wasn’t due to lack of ad relevancy. It was an effective series of ads that I’ve remembered.

A further detail to keep in mind when you use detailed targeting is to include and exclude audiences. Years ago, one of the biggest gripes from Facebook marketers was that we couldn’t exclude audiences. Now we can! Don’t overlook this easy-to-use feature because it will enable you to really dial in to who you’re targeting. When targeting interests and behaviors it’s easy to end up with a bloated audience, sometimes in the hundreds of millions. Exclude some obvious or not-so-obvious audiences from this larger audience to positively affect your result rates and return on investment.
Our imagination is our only limit when it comes to targeting audiences on Facebook. These three audience targeting tactics have proven to be successful for many Facebook advertisers, but there are countless more available and Facebook continues to develop more.
Matt Vollmer works closely with cross-channel retailers to understand and evolve their marketing strategies within email, social and display channels. As a product manager at Listrak, he collaborates with retail experts and engineering teams to develop new products and features that will enable digital marketers to more effectively reach their audiences across multiple channels.

Post-Holiday Strategies: 15 Awesome Ideas

by Megan Ouellet, Director of Content Marketing. Reach out and say hi to Megan on LinkedIn.
The holidays are practically upon us. And while you could be fine-tuning your holiday strategy and putting the finishing touches on your holiday campaigns, you shouldn’t over look your post-holiday strategy. Without a post-holiday strategy, you’ll lose many of your new subscribers.

In this article, I’ll share five often overlooked ideas, five awesome post-holiday email campaign ideas, and five additional cross-channel ideas you should consider putting into place now.

What to do before the holidays are over
There are several things you can put into place now that will not only help you reach your holiday goals, but will also help you keep new subscribers and customers engaged after the holidays.

Understand Transit Days
One of our favorite tips is to gain a better understanding of your shipping deadlines. This will help you extend your shipping deadlines in areas closest to your warehouses. For example, you can see on the UPS map below how long it will take packages to be delivered from a warehouse in NJ. Understanding transit days will allow you to target customers in the right regions with accurate shipping deadlines and rates.

Understand Abandonment Rates
You must also carefully monitor bounce rates on your site in order to determine if there are changes you can make to reduce abandonments. Many times, you can control factors that will keep shoppers on your site, such as adjusting prices, changing images, adding product recommendations and reviews, etc.

If shoppers do abandon, you want to adjust the timing of your browse abandonment and cart abandonment campaigns during the holidays and don’t wait as long to reach back to customers.

Understand New Subscribers
Email acquisition rates increase about 13% in the fourth quarter, on average. This isn’t by accident – most retailers have a strategy in place to acquire as many subscribers as they can during this time…onsite, in social networks, in-store – everywhere their shoppers are. But it’s not enough to just acquire these new email addresses, you must carefully monitor new subscribers so you know which ones have purchased, which ones haven’t, which ones are engaged, which ones aren’t, etc. This way, you’ll be able to determine where new customers are coming from and you can adjust your messaging to target subscribers appropriately.

Understand Purchase Habits
You must also understand your customers’ purchase habits in order to be able to effectively generate a second sale from new customers. This level of customer data can be difficult to mine, but Listrak offers a Bayes Net Analysis that tracks sales and shows the likelihood of additional purchases being made within specific time frames. As you can see, this analysis from one of our retail clients shows that their customers have a 10% chance of placing a second order within 30 days of the first purchase, while that likelihood drops to 2.6% three months out. But customers that purchased more than five times have a 26% chance of placing another order within 30 days. Knowing when your customers buy will help you fine tune the timing of your post-purchase campaigns so you can reach shoppers at the right time.

What to Send
Now that you have a better understanding of your audience, here are a few post-holiday campaign ideas that will keep shoppers engaged and buying from you in January. These campaigns go beyond the typical holiday sales, allowing you to promote full price merchandise.

Stock Up
Help your customers beat the January blues by stocking up on essentials. These items can be full price or you can offer a sale – the point is; you can engage shoppers by showing them items that can be used year-round. They’ll appreciate a break from all of the holiday-related merchandise.

Spring Preview
After the holiday lights come down, many people are already thinking about spring, warm weather, sunlight and a new wardrobe! Help them prepare by sharing a preview of your spring merchandise.

Gift Card Redemption
An oldie but goodie! 67% of holiday shoppers will buy at least one gift card and it’s up to the retailer to be sure the recipients redeem them, which can be difficult as they don’t always know who the recipient is. Gift cards don’t count as revenue for retailers until the cards are used, and with billions of dollars in unused gift cards floating around, it is in your best interest to capture this lost revenue. According to Gift Card Statistics, 61% of gift card holders spend more than the amount on the gift card and 75% of those overspend by 60%. It is in your best interest to send at least one email to your list that makes it easy for shoppers to redeem their gift cards; however, it shouldn’t be the main message as not everyone on your list will have one. Here are some emails that we love:

Content Related to Activity
2016 was the year of personal product recommendations and customers responded positively to these messages, clicking and buying the recommended merchandise at a high rate. We expect 2017 to be the year of content recommendations based on activity. For example, if you bought an espresso maker, you could receive an email like the one below from Whole Latte Love that shares videos of how to use the machine. Or if you searched for jeans but didn’t buy anything, you could receive an email like the Style Co. example below that talks about the best jean styles for every body type. This is a great way to keep shoppers engaged without just sending another email asking them to buy something. But…we’ve found that customers DO buy from these messages even though few of them even contain a CTA asking them to.

Cross-Channel Campaigns
While there has been a slight decline in emails that offer in-store or online discounts exclusively, this tactic can help you reach specific post-holiday goals, especially when it comes to clearing out holiday merchandise.

What Else Can You Do?
While email remains the most effective channel in which to reach and convert shoppers, you can’t rely on it solely. Here are five ideas for reaching and engaging subscribers in other channels.

Every year, mobile sales have the highest growth rates as more and more customers shop on their phones and tablets. And, chances are, you’re putting a mobile strategy in place so you can reach customers through SMS messages. A great way to acquire more numbers is to let customers sign up for text messages in your opt-down. When email recipients click the unsubscribe button, give them options to either select to receive fewer email messages and/or sign up to receive SMS messages. This will help you grow your lists while reaching customers in their preferred channel.

The average retailer only has email addresses for 30% of site visitors. The rest remain anonymous. Implementing a programmatic ad strategy allows you to re-engage these anonymous shoppers through personalized and highly relevant display ads, driving them back to your site to shop.

Social Ads
Another great way to engage anonymous site shoppers is through your social networks. For example, Facebook Lead Ads is a strategic way to acquire email addresses from anonymous site visitors who showed high purchase intent by retargeting them on their Facebook news feed. You can also show shoppers ads that feature items they browsed or carted on your site, driving them back to your site to complete the purchase.

But you shouldn’t stop there. You can also build Facebook Custom Audiences to help you find new shoppers that look like your best customers.

Listrak can help you accomplish these tactics. Questions? Let us know in the comments section.
And be sure to watch our Post-Holiday Webinar for even more tips and a sneak peek into how Listrak can help you achieve all of this and more.