A more thoughtful approach to email design

About Elliot Ross

CEO & Founder Taxi for Email

I need to start to investigate why are you right? Can you hear me? I am what’s the best way to actually share my screen then. Okay, I see So put that over there. And then I’m going to share this one over here. Hey, are you right? Can you hear me is that sound? Oh, right. Okay, yeah, I’ve got a microphone here. So I went on me, I’ve got proper podcasting one so hopefully that will be alright. Yeah, let me know if it sounds sort of be me or anything like that. So I’m gonna sit here and there’s a few cool lovely I will I’m sorry, I just need to get my laptop to the to not show notes. And then I think we’re good. How do you have Oh, wait, what’s happened that might as my camera stopped I wonder how that’s happened. Is that a normal thing? Seems like it’s just turned off. Okay, I’m just gonna from my laptop. Let me see. No, it’s not it’s just on my laptop on my camera on my laptop. Mmm hmm. Let me just restart. Yep. Good or good. share my screen share screen to share that. Yeah, so that’s, that’s all good. Yeah. Yeah, I’m using Chrome is that problem okay. Press the button Enter. Funny. My slideshow. I’m gonna see then it stops. It’s something to do with the camera stops. I’m just going to restart my laptop actually, but the camera seems to stop once. I Go into full screen on my, on my websites called PowerPoint. So I’m just going to be start and then hope for the best. And then we’ll see how we get on. Hey, can you see me, we’ll get just trying to get my slides my screen to share. And then I think we are good. So you can have that screen only that code so you can see my slides. I’m just gonna load up my iPad. Sorry, I’ll be two seconds, so that I can actually see what’s going on. Because otherwise, it covers up my screen. And I can’t see what’s happening. So I won’t be able to see when people say stuff. Okey doke. We get How are you doing? should we start? Or shall we? Wait? What are we wait for people to come into the room? Thank you very well, thank you. Um, yeah, I just want to say really quickly. Um, yeah, thanks to Nely and Andrew for putting this on. This is a, it’s been a crazy journey. But also, it’s, it’s what we kind of need right now in amongst all the other sort of panic, trying to get on my side, I’m sitting in front of the camera. There we go. So yeah, this has been a really useful event, and also a bit of a distraction, to be honest, against what everything is going on. So what I want to talk about today, is a more thoughtful approach to email design. And this is off the back of quite a lot of discussion. Over the last kind of couple years, really, both in email conferences, but also in the wider sort of web conference, area, and things like that. And what has kind of started to come across a lot more is this idea of empathy, thinking about teams and thinking about people and, and how we act as kind of brands in the marketplace and our kind of responsibility for these things. So, um, what I wanted to talk about was, yeah, getting getting this stuff working with better really, now we’re in a place where we really can do good email, right? We have, we have the technology to do the right message, the right place, the right time, all that kind of stuff. We have technology, but unfortunately, the content is still hard. And the content is really the stuff that’s driven by humans. So that’s where we come in to do stuff really well. My camera looks like it’s gone off. Is that okay? for everyone? Or you think it might just be the one that I can see. But yeah, lovely. Go. So, um, yes. So how not to do things I suppose. Just to start off with, I’m not really going to talk about these things, even though they are cool, and they’re fun. And the reason is, because I think at this point, we’ve got other things to worry about. So there is lots of really cool shiny stuff out there. If you’re not mastering this stuff, then doing the shiny stuff isn’t going to help you. So just to kind of talk about those really quickly, there’s some really interesting stuff going on. So one of them is amp, of course, has been a bunch of talk about amp on the conference, which is great and it’s really interesting and exciting. but crucially, we’ve got to nail the message before we think about other ways to get it across. If you can’t get the right message, then there’s no point in doing it in a In a snazzy, flashy way. So yeah, amp is great. But I’ve masked everything else first. And secondly, Gmail primary tab a bit easier because overhead is a bit smaller. You know it, you can do this kind of stuff in promo tab. Now you can get little things that come up in inbox view, which is really cool. And there’s a bunch of generators for that. So email, acid has one littmus has one, I think, I’m not sure what they’re called Nova 250. Okay, is to make one. So validity, I guess. And, yeah, pretty, pretty easy and fairly straightforward to do. So that’s maybe a nice to have. But again, a cool thing to play with, and a whole bunch of discussion about primary tab in the last session. So we won’t really talk about that. But I will just leave that tweet there for a second. Yeah, it’s kind of kind of ironic that we spent a lot of time having these discussions about whether they should be in the promo tab or not. And then actually, people want to be in there now that there’s a shiny trick that you can do. And so anyway, I thought, what a more thoughtful approach to email design. So what I want to do is look at a few different ways that we can do stuff, right. And there’s a few different approaches we can take. So I wanted to just be fairly practical and talk about how to get there, as well as talk about some wider ideas. And the first way to get there really is we have this kind of challenge when we’re making email, which is basically everyone is too busy doing the day to day to basically do anything else, they’re too busy. You know, executing, writing content that’s going out that day or that week, to be able to actually think about the bigger picture and how their work is impacting other people and what they can be doing better. So I think one of the first things we can do is we can work out how to do the day to day better. And I think one of the most effective ways to do that, from an efficiency perspective, is to create an awesome design system. So previously, you might have heard people talk about things like master templates, or just templates in general. And it’s a similar idea. So it kind of takes a concept that’s been around on the web for a while. This is something we did for Debenhams A while ago, and you basically build out all of the different building blocks that you’re going to use in your email. What that means is it gives you a single source of truth. So when you’re making a new email, you’ve got a whole set of HTML is already done. So you don’t need to start from scratch each time. That means instead of taking, you know, eight hours, or two days, or three days or four days to build an email, you can actually do it a lot quicker. The thing with this, though, is it isn’t ever evolving thing because it’s something you need to protect, right. So the challenge is stopping people from just drifting away and doing their own thing. So you need to make sure if you go down a bit of a design system, making sure that you have something you keep up to date, you listen to the people who are using it, and find out what their needs are, what you’re not quite hitting how you can help people all that kind of stuff. Because then what that means is you’ve got a kind of living and breathing thing that people are happy with. And they’re using. So keeping that kind of constantly evolving is really key. So you can see, this is an example we did to who just got a whole bunch of different navigations, for example, obviously, they don’t send all of these at once, but they can pick and choose what they need to do put the content in and get an email out the door really quickly. Very useful in e commerce perspective, especially times like these, because what it means is you can be really reactive to either world events or to your competitors. If your competitor has a sale, you can get an email out that that competes against it, you know, within a few hours. Yeah, when times like this, you can get your your message out the door around the kind of COVID issue. So that’s design systems, quick ideas about how to go through them as whole load of stuff written about this, but I’ll just cover some stuff quickly. So creating a design system, a few different ways to do it in a really nice way. So first, I would audit your current emails, get all of your current emails. If you’ve got lots of stakeholders or some key stakeholders, this is a great time to get them on board. So print out the previous emails you’ve made, you know, plant a tree or whatever afterwards. But put them all out, stick them on the wall and look at what worked What didn’t what people liked, what people didn’t like what they would have done instead capture all that stuff. That means that you can then get into a wireframe and you can say here’s all the different shapes we’re going to build. Now, as a bit of a spoiler, we do this quite a lot for people and it turns out, most people only use the sort of about 1015 different shapes of email. And that’s it. So if you spend the time investing, getting those 15 really good then you’re good you know you can you can do some, some medical email. third stage is to take into design so you build your shapes out and then brand them up. This is a good point as well where if you have multiple brands, you can then do multiple different designs based on the same sort of basis Genesis, then you can take it into HTML. And if you have a CMS select taxi, which is coming I find it is a tool where you can take master design systems. And put content in basically, so that you can kind of have that coding there. But you’d build out a good HTML, what you do there is that means you can spend the time getting a really, really good quality HTML, you can do things like accessibility, you can do things like mobile friendly code. And lastly, really important, you can document it. And I think this is really key because people can’t argue the PDF. If you do this. When people come along and say, hey, I’ve got great ideas, why don’t we do this for an email, you can say, Well, actually, we’ve sent out what we do, here’s the document. Great, you’ve got ideas, we’ll take that on board. Next time, we’re revising stuff, but here’s what we can do right now. And it just kind of stops those, you know, the great ideas from happening five minutes before you’re pressing the send button, because that is an excuse, or that is a perfect storm for things to go wrong. And for things to be very stressful very quickly. So that’s design systems, I think they help in a few ways. They help because everyone knows what they’re doing, which means you can do things quicker. And everyone’s kind of, you know, you don’t get weird feedback and things like that, you can reduce the risk of errors, which is really, really useful. And vitally important, really, you can make stuff quicker, which is a huge benefit. And also, you can invest in the time to make better quality code. So make stuff that is mobile friendly, really dig into making stuff work in all different devices, but also make stuff that is accessible. And because you’re reusing this code, it means that you can sort of afford the time to do that. And so accessibility, let’s dig into that a bit. So being accessible, I think this is, you know, vital in this day and age, we’ve talked about this a bit, but I just wanted to do a little bit of a primer, especially if you’ve missed some of the other sessions. I know, Paul kicked off the conference three days ago now, which feels like a lifetime ago in this week. But um, when he was talking about this, he has some really, really good points about accessibility and how it basically is vital these days, I just really is a great session, you should, you should check it out on the video, if you don’t have it. We didn’t say it. Um, I just really want to talk about why accessibility is important, fairly quickly. So instead of giving us as well as giving us outlook, Microsoft has also given us something called the Microsoft Inclusive Design Guide. And I would recommend you go and have a look at that, because there’s a huge amount of really useful information on there. And they have this idea of the persona spectrum. So what they say is by designing for someone with a permanent disability, someone with a situational limitation, can also benefit and departure as a way of illustrating that. If, for example, you are designing a building for like a ramp outside a building, for example, and you want to make it so that people with wheelchairs can get in your look at that and go Okay, cool, we’re gonna build a ramp outside our building, so that anyone who’s got a wheelchair can get into our building, and you look at the numbers, and perhaps you think, Oh, well, that’s only about 26,000 people, you know, we’re gonna look at the cost, the builder comes in and says, that’s gonna be a lot of money. Any business in the world? Unfortunately, it’s going to weigh that up, right? And say, Well, we’ve got this costume, you know? And is it worth it? Basically? Now, the challenge, of course, that’s a massive ethical problem, and you shouldn’t, you should just do it. But also, you know, legally, you should do it as well. But also, perhaps a nice kind of concept to get people on side, when they ask that kind of question is to say, Well, actually, this is going to help people who’ve got pram for a couple years. And it’s also going to help people who are dropping off delivery for a couple of seconds, for example. So it really helps. You know, sometimes as designers, we don’t have much time, we need to make sure we justify what we do. And sometimes people question what we do. So this is a great way to say Actually, this is really important. And here’s why it helps everyone. And I’m not advocating not doing it. I think this is absolutely what we should do. The way you can see here is instead of helping 26,000 people, you’re actually helping another 13 another 8 million. So actually, you’re helping 21 million people instead of the 26, who really needed 26,000. And so some accessibility considerations when it comes to email, I think Kate talked about these a capybara in her session. So I’ll just jump through these really quickly. When it comes to email hearing doesn’t really matter. So we’ve um, we can’t really do audio and email. Luckily, you can do MIDI just about but one of the things we should think about is if we’re doing social with driving people to use video on landing page, we should think about actually, here’s where we can do subtitles, for example, there’s a stat it’s a bit anecdotal, but 80% of people view social videos with the sound off. So that’s why you should have subtitles and captions for everyone as well as people who need it. Visual is really interesting. That’s where we can do a lot of stuff in email. There’s kind of a few answers to this in email. And the easy way is to go Okay, fine. We can make it make make email work for people with screen readers. And that’s cool. We’ve got some code that we can do that for and there’s a whole bunch of stuff online that you’ll be able to find pretty easily It talks to that. But let’s think a bit deeper about designing for people with disabilities. So actually, how do we design for people with epilepsy for example? Should we be sending gifts that are going to cause epileptic challenges, that kind of thing. Some people have visual impairments where they can’t. They’re basically their contrast is reduced, especially things like colour blindness. So how do we design so that people with limited contrast can still understand our email and get the message across. And perhaps the kind of example of that helping everyone is things like the night mode that you get on your phone, when everything goes a bit yellow, really, what happens there is basically they reduce the contrast so that it’s, it’s not as kind of harsh in the dark light. But that does reduce the contrast. And it means that actually, your emails can be a little harder to read. And there’s all sorts of tools you can use to measure the contrast. So go and have a look at those. And things like Litmus and email and acid, they have colorblindness checkers as well to use. dexterity is interesting, because we don’t really consider this that much in our email design. But think about perhaps people who using tabs instead of a mouse to use that email. So for example, the kind of best practice, I guess, that sometimes people say, is to make everything a link, right, because then your click rate will go up, if it’s basically impossible not to click on your email. But if someone is tabbing, through all of those links, it’s actually going to be a really horrendous experience. So perhaps we should just make it so that you can tab, a fairly normal amount. And you can click on the thing that you’re meant to click on, instead of sort of hacks and things, to chase some metrics. And lastly, cognitive bias is really interesting, because it’s something that, you know, there’s a whole bunch of there’s a whole talk in this verse in itself. But how do we make our email easy for people to understand, so people who have autism, for example, or people who have issues or ending anxiety, or dyslexia, that kind of stuff. So there’s a kind of a very rough market, and there’s a whole lot of stuff written about this. Sans Serif fonts can be better for people with dyslexia, for example, no, they are actually dyslexic type fonts or type typefaces that are very useful for dyslexic people. And that’s a bit a little bit of a primer on accessibility. And I think that’s something that we should be considering a lot more. And there’s a lot of, you know, it’s been a lot of talk about accessibility in recent times. And that’s great. But I think sometimes that kind of gets to the point where we make it work in a screen reader, and then we sort of move on to something else. So I think there is a bit more that we could be digging into there. As a quick example, this is some colour contrast testing. So you can see this in Litmus. This is a test you can do, put your email in, see what it looks like work for someone with colorblindness. So you can see what’s going on there. This is an email we send every week called email weekly, so you can get that email weekly.co. Because as accessibility and one other thing that I think, again, a little bit of a marketing practice that we should probably stamp out is this idea of sending emails that are all images, now I understand some of the production challenges we have there. But unfortunately, it’s not very good for people with any kind of, you know, usage of assistive technology, because basically all of your text is hidden within an image. So if someone’s using a screen reader, they’re not going to get your content at all, if it’s all within an image. Even if you use alt text and things like that, that the experience is going to be pretty horrendous. And again, the experience for everyone there is perhaps people with a slow internet connection. You know, they open the email, the images, don’t don’t load very quickly, people using a mobile and on a bad reception, that kind of stuff. So actually, we should always design our emails, so that the content, you can get the message across with the text that is in your email. And then images are basically a backup to help sort of illustrate what you’re doing. And another example of that is something like Siri, for example. So when people talk about doing email, for screen readers, again, you know, sorting things out for screen readers, mildly also makes things work for things like Siri and Google and all the rest of those technologies. And Alexa, of course, so you can see this example, you can sort of say, hey, Siri, read my email. And what will happen is, it will basically go through with the subject line, the sender, and a bit of the preheader. And then it’ll say, do you want to read the rest of this email so you can see the booking and I’ve got some work to do there. So not only do they send quite a lot of all image emails, but the screen reader is basically going to say, full stop, full stop, full stop, full stop, full stop and then shout shop at you. So that’s not a great experience. Incidentally, it won’t actually shout shop. It will go hlp because it reads out capital letters separately. So yeah, some work to do there as well. And thirdly, I think, in terms of design approaches that we could embrace. Now, I wanted to talk a bit about social. And I think, you know, quite often we talk about email versus social. And actually, I think a lot of the time, we should be talking about how we can learn from social, you know, when email when social first came out, people were going, Oh, actually, it’s taking all our budget, we shouldn’t do it, bla bla, bla, actually, you know, people are engaging with social a huge amount, and we should learn about what they’re doing. We shouldn’t be sending out letters, basically. And you know, in a lot of the kind of ideas that we have in email, some of those came from this sort of dm era, and we should be looking at Mobile a bit more. So when it comes to mobile, we’ve looked at CSS, and we’ve worked out how to make stuff work on mobile. So that’s great, that’s fine. You know, we’re pretty kind of solved there, there’s always work to do. But we can sort of tick that box. But I want to think about this idea of basically, the phone is the inbox, the whole phone, you know, you pick it up, and there’s notifications and messages from everywhere. So you do get stuff in your email, but also you get things from Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, Snapchat, all these other places, right? Even things like your doorbell you can get on your phone now and Tinder and that kind of stuff and all of this work notifications. So really, what we’re doing an inbox is competing against all this kind of stuff. And it’s not necessarily competing for money, it’s competing for attention. And this is what we need to think about, right? So if people are engaging with Instagram, and it’s five seconds at a time, 10 seconds at a time, and we send them an email, that is a massive essay, that’s not going to fly because their their mindset will be in grazing mode, and they’ll see our email and they go, what the hell is this is too long, I’m not gonna bother. That’s a great kind of stat that comes a great phrase that comes out of designing for apps, which is that people use apps to save time or waste time. So basically, people use apps for two seconds or 10 minutes. So maybe when we’re thinking about our design, we should think about what is the two second version of our email versus the 10. Second, and you could perhaps achieve that by using things like subheadings, clear definitions between different bits of content so that someone with two seconds can understand your message. But equally, someone with a bit more time, they can spend a bit more time reading your email and get the gist of it a bit more. And a good kind of market for that, I think is this quote from Seth Godin, the two scarce elements of our economy of trust and attention, I think that’s really great. You know, rule to live our life by especially in 2020. There’s a lot of stuff going on. And we’ll talk about sort of tension is a big challenge, but we’ll talk about trust in a second as well. This guy Vaynerchuk basically saying the same thing, but swearing, but he just said that. So there we go. Um, so yeah, so the main idea that we’re not really talking about, basically what we did in dm 15 years ago, because it’s not really a good place to be. So I thought, these are a couple of good examples that illustrate this point. So this is an email from pretty little thing. And you can see this has, you know, I’m not sure if it comes up on the screen. But this is basically a welcome email saying, Hey, girl, you’re new here. Let’s move things to BFF status, and then basically, shop new and now let’s move things to BFF status is not what you see in a welcome email, right? Because you usually say, Hey, welcome, thank you for signing up for emails, blah, blah, blah, you can expect See, this is maybe an offer or whatever, no straight in, in, you know, a language that that engages the audience, that makes sense, the kind of thing that you would read on social, even the aesthetic is the kind of aesthetic that you would see on Instagram, kind of filtered, you know, sort of perfect imagery that you have, with unicorns, of course. Um, another example of this with a different aesthetic. So this is a thing called beak. And they are a sort of brand of, sort of hipster clothing really, quite long email, actually. But what’s happening here is the content is kind of optimised for, for kind of scrolling. So you know, you might sort of scroll through it with the kind of Instagram mentality, but there’s nothing too chunky there. There’s lots of whitespace it’s very easy to graze and sort of understand all the content, even if it is quite long. This is an example from Pizza Express. And this is really interesting, because when so we’ve worked with the peace Express action rocket. And what we did there is we were working with the email team. And then one day we were speaking with the, with the content team and the people who make social and we’re talking about sort of email in general, and they’ve never really worked with with email. And they were really excited about email. Because if you think about making content on social social, you’ve got to compete against every other brand, every other cat that’s on social, every other little bit of content and actually an email What we were able to do is basically send all of the little social messages that they wanted to send to people that we knew that were engaged with the brand, without any other distractions going on. So they sort of started to see email as a way to basically send the stream to people without any other sort of distractions going on. So they’re actually really engaged. So maybe it’s worth reaching out to your social teams, or, you know, if you’re working with clients, we’re reaching out to their social teams, you know, they’re making gifts, they’re making little bits of content, little small, tweetable little messages. So maybe think about how you can take that level of content and put that into email. I think that’s a some really interesting ideas coming out of that kind of approach. And the other kind of thing I wanted to talk about really quickly, as we do talk about, you know, sort of flashy technology and things. But these are some emails that basically are just nice bits of content. So this is a email that we made for the BBC. And it’s to launch the second blue planet, the second series of blue planet, and basically, it’s just a really long email. So you kind of scroll through and you see, you know, what, what basically happens, the further you go into the sea, but really, it’s just made out of animated gifs, and background images. So there’s no real technology going on there. That hasn’t been around for 2015, you know, 1520 years already. But it’s just a nice creative idea. And I think quite often we overlook creativity. And we go straight to what we can do with flashy technology. And I think I just wanted to kind of argue that case a little bit, I think we can do some pretty cool stuff. If you actually, the first thing you do is put your computer down and start sketching out some ideas, think about how you can creatively do stuff. Um, I just want to talk about this really quickly. It’s okay, if the email doesn’t at the same everywhere, I think that’s the kind of conceit that you need to get behind. Because if basically, if you want to make your email look the same everywhere, you’re stuck with what you can do in Outlook. And that’s never a good thing. And I just want to flag dark mode, really, there’s a whole bunch of stuff going on. And there’s a whole lot of articles written about it. Um, it is a kind of moving space. But as we’re talking about kind of creative ideas into 2020, I just wanted to flag it, is it something that we should be getting across? Basically, what you can do is you can do really good stuff with IRC. And it’s pretty straightforward to do stuff with on the iPhone and the iPad. Basically, what you can do is similar to using a media query, you can say when it’s dark mode, do this stuff, change the MCs round, change the colours, all that kind of stuff, it’s fairly straightforward. css, unfortunately, places like the outlook.com app, so what used to be Hotmail, but on the app, even on the iPhone, very hard to make work, because basically, instead of listening to what you say you want to do, it tries to do its own thing. And outlook trying to do its own thing is a disaster. So just to kind of flag that, really. So what you might want to do is make it work on iPhone, or you know, on iOS, iOS, and then try and stop outlook from doing basically screwing it up. So things you might want to do. Think about how your logo looks on a dark background. You know, you can put little halos in Photoshop, things like that, you can maybe put a little white box around your logo, stuff like that, just to make sure that sort of defensive design really, you know, stop it from going wrong, rather than optimise it from the outset. Yeah, and hope and pray for it. At this point. I was going to talk about GDPR. But let’s skip over it. I just wanted to kind of set the scene and also to play this gift. So I think that’s the real thing that Kelly Clarkson was sending this. And it works, right. So GDPR. And also, you know, castle and a bunch of other legislation. Really, when it came to the GDPR, what we needed to do was you needed to know when people signed up. And we needed to know how they signed up. Now, basically, legally, they were telling us to do what we should have been doing all along, right? Like these are kind of things that were good ideas to do. And then maybe asked us to put a few policies in and stuff. Now, obviously, if your legal team had challenges around that, and whatever, I don’t want to get into that right now. But nevertheless, what that meant is it basically made us be better than you know what we were doing before, or what some people were doing before. So meant that we should be smarter man, we should actually consider the subscriber experience, we should think about things like building brand affinity, so that we you know, basically stop us abusing trust, there was a great sort of little snippet that someone mentioned. One of the litmus conferences, I think, though talking about this idea of trust tokens, and the idea of trust tokens is they were saying that if people you spend a lot of time building up trust, and then it’s very easy to lose it and we’ll talk about that in a second. But ultimately, you know, as much as we’re paying as it was GDPR broadly I think will save our channel if you look at things like text messages and you know, I would bands, cold calling things like that. You get Cold Calling Who the hell is this, you don’t think Oh great, someone from brand is trying to call me and sell me something, you know. So those kind of channels have been ruined, basically by bad actors. And I think this is ultimately a way to save email from some of that stuff. So you know, it, it actually, hopefully will serve to, to build more trust in our channel. And this legislation is basically going around the world in various forms, helps drive ultimately better email and better results for us as a company right in this brand. And a better experience for everyone is a good thing. So let’s talk about that a bit more. So, I want to talk maybe for a little, little bit more, maybe 10 minutes or so and talk about this idea of making a better experience for everyone. I think there’s two ways broadly, that we can do this. The first one is, is being authentic. And I think Jen capsule did a bunch of ideas around this in her talks there. And I thought it was really valuable. So there’s some kind of authenticity that happens with brands, right. And you may have seen some of these examples, I think dove have done quite a lot of interesting stuff around not having, you know, your kind of classic idea of models and people like that, and you know, having sort of people with normal realistic bodies, in their, in their campaigns. And, you know, not focusing it on the sort of body and talking about actually talking, they’re not sort of saying, hey, this makes you crazy, it says this is for your body, and everyone has a body and they’re all different shapes and different sizes and things like that. Coke Zero, I’ve got behind various different things. Same with Nike, they they align with all sorts of different causes. And people like the body shop, you know, the body shop was started out of a reaction against animal testing of it, and they’ve never tested on animals. And that’s been a USP, that’s run through their business, you know, from the start, and that they’re pretty older, mature company at this point. So I think, you know, for quite a lot of brands, we’ve seen this, and it’s not really new news, but brands with a purpose, I think is key. But I want to talk about authenticity. And I want to talk about inauthentic brands. And I think this is perhaps an example of one so the Moxie hotel. Apologies if there’s anyone from the Moxie or the Marriott group here. Now, the Moxie is kind of interesting hotel, and I stayed in there last year and the one in Boston. And they call themselves a high energy Instagram ready millennial optimised engagement opportunity. And what I think that means is designed by committee. And here are some examples of their authenticity. So as you go into the lobby, the elevator has, basically typography that gets progressively worse and progressively more passive aggressive, telling you to take a selfie. As soon as you get out of the elevator, it says find your wild, which I was basically trying to find where to check in but never mind. They caution against the wet floor and they use that fire the medium of jazz hands. They that’s that’s the sign that says basically don’t come in this is a flagrant misuse of my image rights. And on every floor, they have this on the bathrooms as you go in, so some poor guy or girl or whoever has had to put this mosaic into every floor in every bathroom. And lastly, this is the phone that was in the room, it says hey, press here for bedtime stories. And yeah, that basically goes through to reception, and they wouldn’t tell me a bedtime story. So I think this is perhaps a challenging idea of authenticity. But perhaps it’s not for me, I’m in the same trip, I stayed in the standard in New York, which, you know, obviously, everyone’s taste is different, but I felt that this is a lot more authentic to what they stand for. So it’s a kind of fairly high standard design place. But everything kind of just works. And it does have some little quirky messaging here and there, but it’s all within the right context. And I think that is key, understanding the context, understanding your audience. You know, this is not new stuff, right. But it’s very easy for it to look inauthentic. And I will say this, though, the first rule of marketing is you are not the audience. And the second rule of marketing is don’t listen to people who think that they’re Julian. So perhaps, you know, I’m not the sort of person who is the Moxie is for and there were other people who like it, and I’m here being an old man complaining about it. So I will just leave that at that. But yeah, for my money, I don’t think there’s a great authenticity going on there. So let’s talk about this kind of stuff as well. So anyone remember the 29th of November 2019. That was of course Black Friday, and an on Black Friday. What we do as brands is we basically tell We want what our margin is. And so you can see these guys were telling us that, hey, at least 30% of what we charge you yesterday was cold, hard profit that we put in our back pockets. So you can have that basically, if you give us some money today. And again, Black Friday sales 60% of all products. So, you know, you’re kind of sitting there going 60%. So I’d usually paying 60% more than what I perhaps could be 50% off here. And again, 50% off here. So you know, nice offers, and that kind of stuff, but a bit of a challenge. And if you’re a loyal customer, basically, you know, we’re saying, here’s the thing you got last time, for a lot cheaper, and you’re a bit of a mug for buying it. So, you know, as much as we do get trapped with this kind of stuff, you might want to watch out for it. And basically what happens, we did it all the money. And that’s great. And we look back and we go, great results roll up, and everyone clicks and blah, blah, blah. But actually what happens is we take people from being like this, when they think about our brand to being like this, and then they sort of start thinking about this. And then what happens is sometimes they unfollow and that’s not a great experience, right. And what’s basically happened is, we spent a huge amount of time building up this authenticity, building up our trust. And then we throw it all away for a quick bit of cash. And then if you go on Twitter, you’ll see all of this kind of stuff, which goes on and on and on. Basically people saying, Oh, look, you know, you’ve seen our brands, and I’m just going to unsubscribe from all of them. And we’ve seen some of that in the last few days as well. So we’ll talk about that briefly. So yeah, you know, we, we talk about authenticity a lot. But authenticity isn’t necessarily something you say it’s something you live, and you can set out your brand values, and you can put them in a PDF, but you have to live them every day. And you have to make sure that every communication you do follows those values. And, and the kind of second part of this is responsibility, which is, you know, perhaps the heart of it for many, many marketers. Now, if you go on Wikipedia, that’s a great page about heuristics and cognitive bias. And cognitive biases are basically how we, as humans make decisions, right. And ultimately, when we’re doing marketing, we’re trying to get people to make decisions, that that’s what we’re doing, right, we want them to make a decision to buy our stuff. But unfortunately, you know, so if you look at this, and I recommend you look at this page, even just to be aware of things for your own background, but there’s all sorts of little things that you can that basically happen in our decision process. So being aware of it is very valuable. Now, we’re armed with that information, you can basically go two ways, right. So this is kind of why people make decisions. And you can use this and go great, I can now use this as a hack, and I can sell stuff that people didn’t want, or you can be aware of it. And you can basically not abuse these biases and, and behavioural based biases. So here’s a good example from I think it’s spirit. And if you’re in the in Europe, or the UK, sort of perhaps equivalents, the sort of sort of some of the budget, airlines, although a lot of the airlines do this now anyway. Um, so I was flying from Kansas to Las Vegas. And I was attracted to this website, because this is how you can get a flight, it’s $29. Those great, great $29, I’ll do that, that’s, that’s gonna be useful. It’s only an hour, it can’t be a bad flight, I’ll get on and you know, just read my book or whatever. And then I’ll go. But I’m going through this process, it says, I actually do want to, you know, take your bag with you, do you want to fly in a plane that, you know, has wheels? Do you want to carry anything else on, you know, do you want to check in, you know, quickly, or whatever it is. And they put in all these extra things. And basically, what you ended up paying was about $200. Now, there’s a psychological approach here, this is the idea of chunking. And basically the idea of chunking, as you say, you get people in with a small price, and you chunk on extra bits, until you get them paying a high high price. And perhaps people are more likely to pay that. Then saying, hey, this right is $200 Do you want it? Now I think this kind of stuff is quite dishonest. And you know, it can be quite abusive for people. So I think we should be more aware of this kind of stuff. And we shouldn’t see heuristics and cognitive biases is a cheat code to make people buy stuff, we should see it as something that we should be acutely aware of so that we don’t abuse it. Here’s another examples. We talked about countdowns a lot in email. If you’re seeing this countdown, it doesn’t it just loops, so I apologise for that. But you know, this kind of stuff for for quite a lot of people it builds up anxiety and that’s not really a good place that we should do. So you know, we kind of see things like countdown timers as a bit of a hack to get us a bit more engagement but actually this can Trigger quite a lot of negative feelings for people. And this company in the UK called meal pal, and they sent this kind of stuff. This is a fake support ticket to sell me a sandwich at lunchtime. So I got this and I thought, Wait a minute, this ticket, whatever, I haven’t put in a support request, I looked at it. And it’s just a normal sales email in and it’s got ri as well in there for good measure, you know, this kind of stuff is bad. This is OptinMonster, or, you know, there’s a whole bunch of these but this idea, I think it’s called or this or this a phrase confirm shaming, and basically, you get big pop up and it says, Do you want this? Or are you horrendous as a person? You know, No, thanks, I’m fine with losing subscribers, just put clothes, you know, don’t put this kind of weird, argumentative, passive aggressive stuff in your signup process, or don’t use pop ups at all, in fact, and design things a bit nicer. Another example of this, and I think Jen capsule pulled this up before this, there’s been a few examples of these over the years. But this idea of saying, hey, look, we know that Mother’s Day or whatever, you know, Father’s Day, various other things can be sensitive for people. Let us know and we’ll OPT you out of it, basically. So bloomin Wilder, a company that sells flowers to people. They’ve done this a few years in the UK. And actually what they’ve done this year is tried to make that wider. And they they came up with this thing called the thoughtful marketing movement. And so there’s some really interesting stuff there. There’s a whole bunch of brands that have signed up for it. And there’s a whole load of ideas around how you can support it in your organisation. So I would look that up to kind of see what you can do there. So we’ll talk about Coronavirus really quickly because, well, we kind of have to write. So you know everyone’s talking about this, everyone’s sending emails. I think this kind of fits under our sort of responsibility as marketers is how we do this properly. Really. There was a great webinar yesterday or a few days ago with Kristen bond. Ghost Mike from really good emails. And and it wasn’t it was Matt, Matt Smith from really good emails, and also Jason Rodriguez from Litmus, I would look up that that webinar, there’s a recording of it, they had a great bunch of really useful sort of pragmatic tips for how to do marketing in the in the current sort of climate in the next few days and weeks. But for my money, I did this poll on Twitter. And there’s a lot of disruption going on a lot of brands and marketers, they are doing more email or they’re doing you know, they’re not closing down and saying we’re not doing anything, but they are doing different emails. So the kind of stuff you’re working on last week is different to what you’re working on this week. And working out how the land lies is been quite challenging this week. So I think, you know, having seen it sort of avalanche of emails about, you know, here’s basically what we’re doing for Coronavirus. And that basically comes down to we’ve given some central staff home and we’ve told them to wash their hands Great, that’s not really useful. If you’ve got something that is genuinely useful, something that is practical, you know, if you’re a supermarket or have a, you know, a store of any kind and you’re saying our stores are now closed, then tell people that is fine. That is you know, a legitimate message to tell people. If it’s relevant to them, you know, you can perhaps do a bit of segmentation to tell them the local stores closed, that kind of stuff. That kind of stuff is useful. But be aware that people are very, very anxious right now. There’s a lot of challenges as people are working out what’s going on. Every time you look at your phone, it’s something about Coronavirus. Do you really want to add to that if you don’t have anything useful to say so just be aware of that. And I did try and put an email pan on here and say don’t send a trigger. But this is an online conference and we can’t hear people laughing um, I’d wanted to pull up one example here just really quickly. So this is Marks and Spencer they’re a food store where the food and clothes store in the UK but broadly they have separate stores for for food or, or clothes. They send an email just to service email really, that said, Hey, can you freeze it? Yes, you can. So they talked to different types of food and they said hey, actually, here’s what you can do. You can freeze this or you shouldn’t freeze that. You know, just really good service stuff, right? Telling people is some useful information. You might have a load of cheese in your fridge and it might be about to go off. So don’t worry, you can freeze it, or these different ones freeze and other ones don’t or you might want to grate it first or whatever. That’s really useful genuine information in your thing actually in the coming time. In the coming days, weeks, months, whatever m&s. Were there to try and help me a bit. That said though, I looked this up on Twitter and people said Oh, They’re just basically sending this to tell people to go and buy and go and find food so that they can panic buy and then go and fill their freezer. So sometimes you can’t just help. So you need to be aware of that sometimes. Yes, in the comments, I agree saying something like the current situation rather than explicitly saying Coronavirus is a good idea. To wrap up, I did want to talk about just a couple of broader ideas. And there’s quite a lot of stuff going around this on this at the moment, especially when you look at email, actually, email can be quite kind of benign, in terms of the stuff that we do. I mean, when it comes to kind of tracking and privacy and email, our tools are fairly blunt. And actually, you can’t tell as much as you can on on things like social. So there’s some horrendous, frankly, issues going on on social media, you know, Facebook, and Twitter and places like that, with that with the amount of data that they have, they can do some pretty dangerous things. And that’s a great book called ruin by design, which if you are sitting at home, and you’re gonna be sitting at home for a little while, perhaps I would recommend getting that in and having a quick read of x. It’s very, very eye opening and interesting. There’s also Ethan Marcotte is the guy who you might remember him from pioneering a lot of stuff around responsive design, and even coining the phrase responsive design. And he did a talk at a conference called new adventures conference last year, which you can find online. And it was called the worldwide work. And he talks about some really, really interesting things around our responsibility as people, not just as designers, but people who make things on the internet, it’s not just a case of even accessibility is it’s a case of what is ethically correct, and how we should behave as as responsible people and companies. So that’s really, I’d recommend that you go and have a look at those are some really interesting stuff that even if you don’t take all of it in, or you think actually, I’ve read it all, and it’s not for me, and I still want to take other approaches, then that’s okay, that’s cool, at least you’ve kind of had a look and thought, you know, what you want to do. And lastly, I’ll leave, just finish with a couple of ideas. So this is Dylan Smith, plug, email geek slack group, but he’s one of the guys there. moderators. We did a little talk. meetup last year, and this is one of the slides from Dylan’s talk. So send like your mother’s opening is perhaps a good marker, unless you don’t like your mother, in which case send like someone you like is opening. For my money, email will 4080 is email marketers are shady, but also always add value. And I’ll finish up with this slide. I think, really how we do good email, you know, in 2020, and things that we should be doing beyond is basically this, we should be making stuff that works with a small short attention span, and a sort of social media context, we should be communicating a message that is easy to understand that goes from code, to the actual content of the message to how it’s designed, to the time that we send and all of that kind of stuff, you know, make sure that what we are communicating is easy to understand and is a good message. And making sure that we have the best experience for people, whatever device or environment they happen to be opening in. What all of that does is it serves to combine is for the user, it means a great experience, it means something they can afford to eat. But it also, you know, perhaps isn’t an ethical compromise or is something that they can kind of buy into, right. And that’s really how we succeed as brands. And what this means for the business is it means an engaged audience that basically drives results and ROI, right. Because if you don’t do that, basically what you end up doing is a price war to the bottom right, you’re competing with price, and it only takes someone else to have a cheaper price. And all of you know, basically your competitive advantage is gone. And so building up brand equity building up, you know, an audience that is actually loyal and understands what you want to do is, you know, that’s, that’s the bread and butter of what we do. Right. So that’s what we should be doing. So that’s me and that’s, that’s the points that I wanted to make fairly. So hopefully that’s useful and around for if anyone has questions or anything like that. I think I’m just having a quick scroll through and I don’t think there’s anything there. It is gift Clinton, I’m not gonna get drawn into that argument. I think that’s good. Um, cool. So the only thing that it leaves me to say really is thank you so much to Nely and Andrew for putting on an amazing conference, all of their hard work. And thanks to everyone else who’s done talks and everyone who’s showing up and contributes the chat room and being involved. It’s been really, really good and it’s been a, as I said, a great distraction for everything else that’s going on. So thank you cheers and yeah, have a good evening. Hopefully everyone has something in the cupboard that will help them Get through the next few days. Cheers. Thank you

Leave a Comment

Hey there 👋 Can we stay in touch?

Once a week we will send you a list of our latest new posts and videos. Never miss a thing!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Inbox Expo Back December 2021

Valencia, Spain & Online

14-16 December2021