Email Marketing

Innovative email design and campaigns that tell a story, offering high engagement and return on investment.

Email Marketing - Sketching, Markup, Design

Email Marketing for NatureScapes.net

Background

NatureScapes is one of the longest running websites for nature photographers to network and learn from each other. As a brand, NatureScapes is comprised of several different business segments of photographers in their audience.

Since 2009 I’ve designed and developed hundreds of email communications to support various stages of the customer journey. These areas include messages for online store advertisements, luxury travel, monthly newsletters, and transactional emails throughout the website.

Emails with Consistent Results

All emails are responsive. I have designed, developed, tested, and analyzed them from the ground up. I’ve exceeded many benchmarks including consistently high open and click rates along with low bounce rates. Less than 10% of Constant Contact users accomplish this, resulting in strong customer engagement and loyalty.

To increase email list sign-ups, a special offer was implemented using an autoresponder. This change resulted in a 447% increase in email list growth over 6 months. In turn, the offer’s campaign conversion rate increased by 23% with 3x the transactions in 6 months.

Design Process for Email Marketing

NatureScapes Email Template Wireframes
Wireframes and Outline for Responsive Template

After creating an outline of the types of email messages that are sent, I determined which elements were the most common. The goal was to create a responsive template that could be used throughout different types of communications.

1Responsive Template Wireframes & Design

When I first started at the company, there was not a cohesive email system in place therefore I had to build one from the ground up.

Featured Problem: Non-existent Email System
  • First, I determined what types of messages were sent for all communications in order to design and develop a core responsive template that could be used and adapted throughout. The types of emails included informational, promotional, transactional, survey invitations, autoresponders, and other notifications.
  • I then created an outline of each type of message and listed its purpose and goals. For example, promotional store emails contain links to featured product categories and store customer service, whereas travel ads contain links to the upcoming tour schedule and reviews.
Design Approach
  • For most messages, the logo, navigation, and footer were the three common elements required. I created wireframes for each section so the team could review and provide feedback. The core template layout was then designed and built with these three areas as the foundation.
  • Every email sent during the customer journey was designed to work together, from aquisition to purchase follow-up.
NatureScapes Email Campaign Content
Content Creation from Website and Research

Every email design starts with a goal using research and content creation as the foundation. My favorite way to design a promotional email is to create a theme. It’s a great way to be creative, try new approaches, and keep messages engaging.

2Campaign Research & Content

Email campaigns need to be designed swiftly without sacrificing quality. Using the template, campaigns are designed based on seasonal company goals. Generally, I’m given a list of what to feature to make a content plan for the layout. At times I repurpose website content, while at other times I perform more research and write additional material to bring a unique point of view to the message.

Harmonious Content and Visual Design
  • When designing promotional messages for luxury travel, it can be challenging to create content about locations that I’ve never visited. For inspiration, I often communicate with the company owner, read subject matter websites, and watch short YouTube videos to get an idea of what locations are like.
  • For eCommerce and travel promotions, I like to create themes that tie everything together as a unified message. It’s a great way to get creative with messaging and keep things fresh rather than send the same type of advertisements repeatedly.
  • The final step is writing a compelling subject line with complementary pre-header text to engage the reader with the goal of increasing open rates.
NatureScapes Email Wireframe Sketches and Design
Rapid Wireframe Ideas Drawn by Hand

Pictured above are wireframe sketches for three different emails. Using the message content, I draw ideas and notes by hand for every email design before working on the computer. I discover the best ideas when sketching first without restriction.

3Wireframe Sketches & Design

Once the content is complete, I always sketch wireframes by hand and mark them up with notes to incorporate into the visual design.

Quick Idea Generation
  • Sometimes I will think of additional ideas for content to feature while sketching and will go back and update the content that was written during the research phase.
  • After the concept is set in motion, I work on my computer and begin the visual design. During this stage I compose with supporting photography, graphics, typefaces, and colors to create a layout that is mobile friendly and will be readable on different size devices. I always design emails with the idea they are an extension of the matching landing page.
NatureScapes Email Development and Analysis
HTML Email Code, Formatted Text Version, and Email Design

When an email design is approved, the development phase begins. The campaign design is developed within the core template layout. A text only version is formatted and included for email subscribers who receive text only communications.

4Development & Analysis

Following the visual design of an email, it gets sent for review and changes are made if necessary. Afterwards, the design is developed as part of the responsive email template using responsive HTML and CSS, with a formatted text version to match. Testing each email in various email clients is a must for compatibility prior to deployment.

Everything Comes Together
  • Email messages are delivered based on a customer’s preferences.
  • After sending I observe the performance of each campaign. UTM codes are added to all messages for campaign tracking. This is an especially helpful metric for the store, providing unique insight into what makes a successful campaign and ideas for improvement.
  • While there aren’t enough resources to perform A/B testing, I instead compare similar messages and test elements like imagery, writing style, and promotion type to see how customers respond. In moving forward, iterations are made and new approaches are tested.

Promotional Email Designs

eCommerce Customer Journey
Chart: Customer Journey Flow for Retail Email Marketing
NatureScapes Retail Email Marketing - NEOS Sale
“Keep walking like it’s July with 35% Off All NEOS Overshoes”
NatureScapes Retail Email Marketing - MP Bags
“Your New Camera Bag for Wildlife Photography”
NatureScapes Retail Email Marketing - Black Friday Sale
“Are You Ready? Black Friday Sale Starts Now!”
NatureScapes Retail Email Marketing - Bag Sale
“This Never Happens! 20% Off Select DSLR / Mirrorless Bags by Think Tank”

World Travel Client Journey
Chart: Customer Journey Flow for Travel Email Marketing
NatureScapes Travel Email Marketing - 3 Quick Tips
“3 Quick Tips: How to Create Atypical Landscape Photos”
NatureScapes Travel Email Marketing - Unforgettable Adventures
“4 Unforgettable Adventures this Summer”
NatureScapes Travel Email Marketing - Galapagos Islands
“What is it like to spend 2 weeks in the Galápagos?”
NatureScapes Travel Email Marketing - Life Adventures
“Life was meant for adventure”
NatureScapes Travel Email Marketing - Iceland
“Magic Awaits You in Iceland this Winter! Only 2 Weeks Left to Register”
NatureScapes Travel Email Marketing - Ecuador
“Explore a Tropical Paradise / Save $500 on Alaska’s Brown Bear Tour”

Monthly Newsletters

NatureScapes Monthly Email Newsletter - October 2017
“Monthly Newsletter - October 2017”
NatureScapes Monthly Email Newsletter - November 2017
“Monthly Newsletter - November 2017”
NatureScapes Monthly Email Newsletter - December 2017
“Monthly Newsletter - December 2017”
NatureScapes Monthly Email Newsletter - January 2018
“Monthly Newsletter - January 2018”

Transactional Emails

NatureScapes Order Confirmation Email
Order Confirmation
“Your NatureScapes Store Order Confirmation (Order #)”
NatureScapes Abandoned Cart Email
Abandoned Cart
“Jamie, did you forget something? Items in your cart are waiting for you.”
NatureScapes Product Review Email
Product Review
“How’s the new gear? Review your purchase at NatureScapes.net”
NatureScapes Sign-Up Welcome Email
Email Sign-Up Welcome
“Welcome to NatureScapes.net!”
NatureScapes Travel Confirmation Email
Travel Confirmation
“Confirmation - Registration Received for Galápagos Photography Tour”
NatureScapes New Member Welcome Email
New Member Welcome
“Welcome to NatureScapes.net!”
NatureScapes Editor's Pick Notification
Editor’s Pick Notification
“Congratulations! Your Image is a NatureScapes Editor’s Pick!”
NatureScapes Travel Invitation and Survey Email
Travel Invitation and Survey
“How was your tour of the Galápagos Islands?”
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