Browsing: Design Spotlight
As a fan of First Great Western emails I thought I’d do a design spotlight for their latest offering. I’m going to be analysing the competition, email campaign below giving away tickets for the upcoming, popular Glastonbury Festival. This is email marketing done very well indeed!
Pre Header Text
Good pre-header text can go a long way in encouraging users to open the email in full. In this email it has been used for multiple objectives:
- Acting as a secondary subject line to ‘Win two tickets’ by stating the fact that the Glastonbury festival is actually the UK’s biggest festival. Nice bit of general information there for you.
- The standard ‘view online’ wording has been replaced by something more enticing and also funny with a little pun ‘Track it down’.
- The second link in the pre-header text takes you straight to the booking site so I don’t even have to open the email or scroll down, in fact I can do it straight from my preview.
I like that the first tab is personalised to the email content but also like the Inspire Me tab so I can be presented with alternatives if I’m not partial to partying in a giant field!
Text links have been replicated in the email body e.g. “win two tickets” in the intro paragraph and again under the main image, so even without downloading images I can still see and click the calls to action.
Colours play a big part in our emotional connection with an email. The buttons in this email are in good contrast to the main photo, therefore allowing the email to have a calm, relaxed look about it. This is a current theme with First Great Western emails that visually works really well.
Images and Text Ratio
Too many images can sometimes over shadow the main purpose of an email, but this email gets it spot on. There is good use of one main image containing headline, clickable text, matching coloured background text boxes which in turn make the smaller CTA’s stand out.
Good to see First Great Western are not sticking every social sharing icon known to man on its emails, but just the main ones they value. But a great touch in describing the value of following each independent site, as well as them all being B2C focused as it’s relevant to First Great Western.
There are a lot of emails out there that get simple things wrong. However, there are a lot of emails out there that do the simple things so well which makes them a joy to view and read. In this Design Spotlight, we are going to be focusing on an email I received from booking.com and highlighting the simple yet effectively implemented features that make it such a good email.
First of all though, scroll to the bottom of this post to take a look at both the desktop and mobile versions in all their glory.
Have you done that? Great! Let’s dive straight in…
Personalisation is an effective feature that creates a personal connection with the recipient. It requires a good source of data on the people receiving your campaigns that is being kept up to date. If you have this in place, you can easily implement this connection and it has a great impact on the reader.
In this example, Booking.com makes fantastic use of their wealth of data and it makes me feel like I am not just a recipient of a generic email.
My name is prominently displayed in the header with a silhouette icon next to it, indicating I can access my personal profile here. From this, I know this email is intended only for me. The use of “Recommended for you” implies that Booking.com has carefully taken the time to pick out deals just for me. I can say with some confidence that this probably isn’t the case but it could be based on that big source of data they may have on me and my interactions with their content previously!
The subtle addition of “Tuesday Inspiration” in the header makes it seem even more targeted and implies that Booking.com are providing me with the boost I need to get through my Tuesday.
As discussed in design – do’s and don’ts, branding is hugely important in order to get your email recognised. Booking.com does this very well as they simply take a lot of features that appear on their home page and reorganise them for email. Once I interact with any call to actions, the transition to the website is seamless as I recognise features that appear on both the email and website. They importantly stick to their small colour palette and font styles meaning that I am not thrown off by differing visuals.
Subject line/Pre-header text
Subject lines have always proved to be important with regards to email campaigns actually being opened rather than ignored by a recipient. A good way of nailing your subject line is by performing a split test, otherwise known as A/B testing. In Booking.com’s case, their subject line may seem generic but they have gone for a sense of urgency and are successfully appealing to my sense of curiosity.
Phrases such as “Last-minute deals” and “Get them before they’re gone!” create the sense of urgency needed in order to get their email opened. As no deal details are included in the subject line, receivers will be curious as to what deals feature in this particular campaign and if they are of interest to them. Name dropping big, popular cities like London and Paris will appeal to a large group of recipients and is linked to the deals recommended for me actually in the main content of the email.
Another feature which shouldn’t be ignored is the pre-header text that appears after the subject line in my inbox. Pre-header text displays the first instance of text in your email which for a lot of senders tends to be “View this email online” or something along those lines. Booking.com have been very clever about their pre-header text. It has been coded so that the text doesn’t display in the template itself, but it is picked up by email clients. This essentially gives Booking.com more space to try and entice recipients into opening their email and interacting with it.
As 88% of people check their emails via a mobile device as opposed to a desktop, it is vital that we consider how our email campaigns look on these devices. Booking.com have gone for a very clean design in the desktop version which makes the design of the mobile version very simple. The majority of the content becomes centred and due to the block format a lot of the content appears in, everything aligns underneath each other into a clean and legible layout. The plug for a mobile app is arguably more appealing to those viewing the email on a mobile device as it is a quicker process to download the app so having this in the content may have more of an effect than you may think.
Call to Actions
Making your call to actions clear and relevant is key to getting your readers to interact with your email content. Booking.com have several call to actions, the majority of which are above the fold. If readers aren’t interested in their main offers, a search bar is prominently displayed across the full width of the email. This search bar is actually a linked image to their website home page which features a search bar at the top. Call to actions are made prominent with the use of bold colours and arrow icons.
An important feature to mention is the unsubscribe button. A lot of email marketers feel it is better to hide the unsubscribe button wherever they can in order to make it more difficult for a recipient to choose not to receive their campaigns anymore. However, this can actually result in more unsubscribes so making it nice and clear like booking.com have in the footer gives readers the option to easily unsubscribe if they would like to.
A final note…
Take this point as you will. Just above the footer, a 20% off offer is advertised for subscribers of this email. This could be seen as a good or a bad thing; although it rewards readers that actually open and read the email, I can’t help but feel this would be better placed at the top. Everyone loves a deal or discount so why isn’t this more prominently displayed? However, one could say that this is a cleverly placed offer, deterring people from using the very obvious unsubscribe button, a final attempt to win you over.
I get sent a lot of emails which demonstrate both good and bad practices. This Design Spotlight is going to focus on what I recently received from Virgin Trains, and in my books they’ve got it right!
I receive Virgin Trains campaigns on a regular basis and the design is always consistent and on brand. I always open them as they make their campaigns friendly, fun and easy on the eye.
First off, go to the bottom of this post and take a look at both the desktop and mobile versions of the email campaign (everyone should be doing this now right? If not speak to us, we can help) and then read on…
They look visually stunning
Every email received is eye catching and full of well thought out puns. Christmas is just around the corner and they’ve used the theme to their advantage, giving a clear message that Santa is even giving up his sleigh to ride with Virgin Trains!
They use a clean and simple layout making all the content easy to scale through. I particularly like that they include a train journey which is on offer relevant to my past journeys, as well as keeping a generic message as I won’t always travel to the same place.
The inclusion of a competition makes it rewarding and with the message below this about planned engineering works, they’re giving me information for free without pushing me to buy a ticket!
The mobile version is just as attractive with the call to actions clear and tapable. I like the way they hide the view online link at the top and have a nice, friendly/confident phrase for it now in the footer, making sure all the relevant content is easy to view.
Simple yet effective background colour
A solid background colour is always safe and effective when it comes to your campaigns. Virgin demonstrate this well and have shades of grey to differentiate between each section, as well as a break showing a strip of the background colour. This allows the user to easily scan through the email and get the information quickly.
It may sound simple, but all of their links work. It is a well-designed email campaign with full functionality. It also displays correctly with no errors! It also has a lovely mobile version with nice big images, clear call to actions and clear cut sections which allow the email to be skim read at ease on both the desktop and mobile versions.
As we covered previously, informative emails are more effective than promotional. Consumers nowadays are smarter as well as overloaded with sales emails. If you can offer something other competitors don’t, useful information with a personal touch for example, it will make all the difference. Virgin Trains blend the 2 together in a nice way with a generic selling message at the top, and a personalised selling message after relating to my recent booking with them. They then offer 2 things FREE, a competition and some news on works being carried out so that I am informed of any potential journey delays before I book. This is the value that I, as a user, enjoy so that it’s not just sell sell sell.
The only area I would say could be improved is the lead image. Although the graphic is great with its festive theme and delivers the message to the audience, it is however large and with images switched off would cause a great deal to be missed above the fold. This could discourage people from scrolling down, making them want to look at another email.
It gives you value
Even though the 1st two sections of this email are trying to get you to buy, the last 2 easily make up for it with the competition and useful information. These little touches make the user feel appreciated and not just a target for potential sales which in turn gains their trust and loyalty for future campaigns.If you would like our feedback on your designs, or for us to design and mobile optimise your templates for you, then get in touch with our friendly team here.
Not so long ago, the world of email marketing was quite a different place.
Email clients were pretty much dumbed down versions of web browsers, meaning email could bring you a taste of the web, but not the full thing. For example, a website would let you watch videos, view image galleries and play games, while email could not.
Fast-forward to today and there are swathes of new email clients that are much more prepared for the task. Things we could only dream of a few years ago have been made reality, and a whole new level of engaging with customers has come about with it.
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