/ Email

The “Pixel Perfect Email” and 5 Other Common Email Myths

Kevin McKernan

office and business work elements

Much like Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster, the ability to code the perfect email—one that renders perfectly and consistently across all platforms—is a complete myth. While some claim they’ve seen it in the wild, these tales are few and far between. And to email developers, these stories feel more than just a bit far-fetched.

Email marketing is known for generating $38 for every $1 you invest in your program. And this great ROI may be what keeps brands coming back to email year-after-year. It’s a proven way to keep in touch with your customers and prospects. And when done with the right strategy, you can see a great ROI for your program.

But just because something is effective, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Which is why we all need to stop believing in many of these common myths about email development, testing and deployment.

Myth: When My Email is Sent to Me for Testing It Should Look Perfect.

Fact: Not Necessarily. In some cases, your email will come to your inbox looking exactly as you expected it to. But in most cases, that’s not how it works.

The Q&A or testing process is meant to help uncover rendering issues on as many email platforms as possible. At Pierry, we often include clients in this process as they may be using a different email client, viewing on a different browser, etc., than we are.

During the testing process you should expect to find problems—and embrace the ones you have. The more that’s found during this testing period, the less issues you can expect post-deployment.

Myth: If My Email Looks Good on One Email Client, it’ll Look Good on Every Email Client.

Fact: Every email client renders email differently.

Your code will often look different from platform to platform. For example, when looking at your email using Gmail on a Chrome browser, a button that has been coded to have rounded edges will appear to have square edges in Outlook 2013.

Why? Because every email client has different standards for the types of code it supports.

Myth: I Can Design My Email so It Renders Perfectly Across All Email Clients.

Fact: Technically, maybe. But you would be very limited in your design.

Single column emails have the highest likelihood to render well across devices, but even the simplest designs have no guarantees. Many falsely believe that an entirely imaged based email will be their best bet; however, not only will this greatly limit your email designs, but having a fully image-based email can increase the chances your messages will be flagged as spam.

Instead of worrying about rendering perfectly across every email client, consider how it will render across top email clients’[ such as Gmail, Apple iPhone, and Outlook 2013 and 2016. And remember, there will be variances across how it looks across each of these clients.

Myth: Once My Email Looks Right on an Email Client, it will Always Look Good on that Email Client.

Fact: When Email Clients Release Updates, this Can Change How Your Email Renders.

Email clients often release updates that can affect how an email renders. Popular clients such as Gmail and Outlook, in particular, are famous for releasing updates that affect how the code is processed, which can throw the design of your email out of whack.

In some cases, though, these changes can be a positive. Recently, Gmail announced that their latest update would support responsive design.

And because changes can happen at any time (and many times without warning) it’s important to properly test your email using both an email preview tool, such as Litmus, and by sending to test email accounts across several clients including Gmail, Outlook, AOL, and Yahoo! when possible.

Myth: If it Looks Good in an Email Preview Tool, it’ll Look Good Live.

Fact: In 98% of Cases Email Preview Tools Are Accurate.

Okay, that 98% isn’t a scientific number, but if you’re running your email through an email preview tool, such as Litmus, you’re likely to get the most accurate view of your email across 35 different email clients.

But sometimes these tools don’t receive recent email client updates fast enough, which again, is another reason you want to test your email across test accounts on several email clients.

In rare cases, you can follow all proper testing procedures for an email, wait 24 hours to send, and still run into an issue you hadn’t anticipated due to an update that was released at some point between testing and deployment.

Myth: My Email Should Look Exactly Like the Mock, Down to the Pixel.

Fact: It’s Nearly Impossible to Have a Pixel Perfect Email Across all Email Clients and Devices.

Again, because of how different email clients render email code, you’ll never achieve this. And that’s okay! At the end of the day, you just want to make sure your email is visually appealing and renders in a way that doesn’t impact the user experience.

Until we have email coding standards, it’s best for every email developer, digital marketer, and CMO to stop mistaking the many myths surrounding email as facts. Instead, focus on designing and coding your email around providing the best user experience possible for the largest number of people.

And don’t be afraid to test new things just because it may not render properly across every single client or device. Interactive email components like gifs, live inventory updates, or loyalty point information may not always be supported across all email clients, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them. Instead, make sure you put the proper media queries and contingencies in place to show users something that is supported by their email client of choice.

/ Pierry Gives Back

Pierry Gives Back: Re-Plate

Kevin McKernan

Collecting food donations

What’s for lunch? This is a common question heard around the office, particularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when we have lunch brought in for free. Not only is having free lunches in the office twice a week a great perk for Pierry employees, but it also gives us all designated time to sit down, take a break, and share a meal together.

But meals don’t come so easy for many across the U.S., especially in the San Francisco Bay area where an estimated 1 in 4 go hungry every day, surpassing the estimated national statistic of 1 in 6. That’s why Pierry’s Redwood City office decided to team up with Re-Plate, a nonprofit food matching service that combines three of our favorite things around the office—technology, food, and giving back to the community.

Through their platform, Re-Plate is working to lower the Bay Area’s 1:4 hunger statistic by matching extra food from businesses and individuals with the communities that need them. Donating your food is as simple as filling out a form and waiting for someone to pick it up. That’s it.

While many times the lunches we have delivered are eaten immediately, we often find ourselves packing the refrigerator with our leftovers. And even though we encourage employees to finish what’s left the next day, they often sit there until the refrigerator is either overflowing with food, or has gone stale.

Our behavior is not atypical: Nearly 365 million pounds of food is wasted daily in the U.S., food that could go to someone who isn’t readily able to provide it for themselves. It’s a sad, eye-opening statistic, to say the least.

Since January 2016, Re-Plate has created over 77,000 meals and recovered nearly 93,000 pounds of food. We’re excited to be a part of helping to increase these numbers!

Currently, Re-Plate is available to those in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Oakland, New York City, and Brooklyn, with more to come. To learn more about Re-Plate, including how to donate food, visit www.re-plate.org.

/ Email

Keeping it Organic: How to Grow Your Email List the Healthy, Natural Way

Kevin McKernan

Small plant on pile of soil in the garden

Growing your subscriber list is a process that costs time and energy, but the rewards can be huge, helping you create repeat customers and build a stronger brand reputation. Of course, the choices you make when building your list can determine how well you’ll connect with your subscribers.

While you want your email list to grow, you also don’t want subscriber numbers to increase just for the sake of increasing. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to rapidly expand your list to as many people as possible. Customers who don’t know or care much about your brand will quickly unsubscribe, or worse, will consider your emails spam, which can damage your sender reputation—meaning those who actually want to hear from your brand may never actually see your messages.

Rather than stuffing the list with disengaged contacts who aren’t likely to bring return business, take the time to organically grow your list by attracting engaged customers who want here from your brand.

Get Their Attention (And Incentivize Them for It)

When done right, having a lightbox or pop-up on your website can be your #1 tool in growing your email list. In fact, one tester found that using lightboxes led to 1375% growth in subscribers.

But be sure to use your lightbox gracefully, or it could come off as annoying. Consider using scroll-triggered boxes that appear once a visitor has shown interest by scrolling down the page to read more. Or only have the lightbox appear after a set number of pages has been viewed. For example, a retailer could ask for visitors for their information after they’ve viewed 3 different products.

And remember, no website visitor will give you their information just for the sake of giving it. (Or at least they shouldn’t!) Your lightbox should get right to the point. Make sure your copy is punchy, clearly visible and includes a call-to-action that encourages visitors to subscribe to your list. This should include some kind of incentive such as 15% off their first purchase in the case of a B2C, or access to an exclusive downloadable ebook, in the case of a B2B.

Regardless of what you offer, make sure you have a clearly marked “close” button on the lightbox to prevent customers from getting frustrated.

Make it Easy to Subscribe

Your website’s layout and design can influence the amount of customers who elect to subscribe to your list. Add a subscribe button to your navigation or footer. Make sure the option to opt-in is immediately noticeable without being obtrusive or distracting.

If you have an e-commerce website, add an “Opt-In” button in your purchase process that customers can click to be automatically added to your subscription list. Be wary of “Opt-out” buttons, which customers must click to avoid being added to the list. These have been found to be much less effective, as customers may not see the button, and may not realize they are being automatically added to your list. Let them make their own conscious choice to opt-in—they’ll likely be more engaged in the long-run.

Ask for Referrals

Never underestimate the power of the email forward. Word-of-mouth recommendations are powerful and have been shown to have a huge impact on customer decisions. According to Nielson, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people—even if they don’t know them personally—over promotional content that comes directly from brands.

Provide shareable content in your emails and newsletters and help give your customers the opportunity to organically discuss your brand in a way that doesn’t feel forced or inauthentic.

And don’t be afraid to ask for a more direct referral. Something as simple as “Like this? Forward to a Friend!” can encourage your engaged subscribers to pass your promotion, newsletter, etc. on to someone they know.

Take the Call to Subscribe to Social Media

Facebook Ads or Twitter Lead Generation Cards can help you find new subscribers based on demographics, interests, and more. In other words, it can help you reach an interested audience and connect with them both on social and via email.

The advantage to this approach is that you can reliably expect your ads to be viewed by a large number of social media users, targeted to your specifications, and include the option to opt-in right in the ad.

The downside to this approach is it’s not exactly free. While the cost-per-click rates of social ads are much lower than that of traditional paid online ads, such as those run through Google Adwords, they are still an investment. The more successful your search, the more expensive it will be. Consider your resources when planning out a paid traffic approach, and make sure that your goals are clearly defined.

Make Connections the Old-Fashioned Way

Website tricks are nice for growing your list over time, but it’s hard to beat old-fashioned face-to-face brand advocacy. Making personal connections with potential subscribers can kickstart the relationship between brand and consumer. Consider opting-in subscribers networking events, tradeshows, or at your brick-and-mortar locations. You can even forge relationships with communities by partnering with local nonprofit or charity events. Think outside the box when looking for new subscribers and you might be surprised at the results.  Just make sure you’re always following the golden rule—build based on quality, not quantity.

It takes time to grow your list, but don’t give up! Over time you can iterate and refine to figure out the best approach to connect you and your customers. And remember, you only want subscribers on your list that have the highest likelihood of being engaged with your brand. A growing email list is nothing if you aren’t seeing an increase in opens, clicks, and conversions.

And of course, keep in mind that when customers subscribe to your list, it’s because they’re engaged with your brand and the relationship you’ve created with them.  Subscribing is just the first move. It’s up to you to ensure that relationship is engaging and rewarding for everyone.