Top Tips and Inspiration from Twitter Chats

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I’ve recently had the opportunity to participate in two email-related Twitter chats. So what’s a Twitter chat? Pretty simple, actually: make up a hashtag, use a tool like TweetDeck, and participate in the conversation that transpires among those following the hashtag.

#EmailReview with @djwaldow

Every Wednesday at 4pm EST, DJ Waldow hosts Email Review with a different guest each week. This week, Chester Bullock from AAA Arizona contributed a recent newsletter and preference center for the group critique.

AAA Arizona Preference Center

In the 20-minute discussion, a lot of ground was covered. Here are some of the highlights:

  • When the email was previewed with images off in Gmail, we noted that there was a lot of empty space created by the hero images near the top of the email. One suggestion was to style the alt tags or add additional color to the background of the email for a richer images-off experience.
  • Chester got kudos for using a recognizable and trustworthy from name (“AAA Arizona”)
  • DJ suggested conducting an A/B split test on the subject line (currently “AAA e-Traveler: March 2011”). You may confirm through testing that this type of “ho-hum” date-based subject line occasionally outperforms more content-driven subject lines with a strong call-to-action.
  • While there is a lot of information in the email, Chester recalled that click rates were consistent throughout the newsletter. DJ noted that some subscribers will archive and file emails to reference at a later time. While this is great, there is a small risk involved when time-sensitive information is included. Be sure your links don’t become dead-ends for newsletters that may be archived by recipients.
  • The AAA preference center is a great example of best practices in action, with options to indicate when you prefer to receive emails along with frequency expectations and previews of the different emails available.
  • Adjust your testing methodology: if you’ve been doing 50/50 splits (where you test each of two variables with half of your audience to gain insight into trends or performance), try doing an 10/10/80 (where you test two variables, each with 10% of your list, then send the “winning” variable to the remaining 80%).

You can also watch a recording of last week’s #EmailReview at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/13517564

#NexusCafe with ExactTarget and @cstudabaker

Every Thursday at 11am EST, ExactTarget’s Partner Network hosts a different digital-marketing related Twitter chat. Last week the topic was “Creative Email Design” with guest Chris Studabaker. This chat attracted a small crowd and discussed topics ranging from what constitutes a good design to how to creating a cohesive family of communications across multiple marketing channels.

NexusCafe Twitter Chat

Some of my favorite tweets:

  • “Care abt email design b/c it’s one of the most measurable, most easily iterative, & most cost effective ways to communicate.” (@cstudabaker)
  • “I think the #1 design mistake I see in emails is failure to remember that they’re read on multiple devices, w/ or w/o images, etc.” (@joannabarnett)
  • “Love @cb2tweets email designs featuring products coupled with customer reviews. Design + Data!” (@kristeneal)
  • “One of my favorite emails is the Groupon welcome, for same reason. Awesome presentation of appropriate data.” (@cstudabaker)
  • “For mobile email, consider pressable elements for touchscreens, scalable design, larger fonts. @stylecampaign is a great resource.” (@meladorri)
  • “Working with team: set internal expectations & timelines. ASAP is not sustainable & doesn’t promote innovation. Establish creative briefs or a similar form for communicating design needs.” (@cstudabaker)
  • “Same root message, but not the SAME message. Tweet & wall post are similar but still very diff environment. VERY frustrating to see SAME update/exact message across channels. REDUCES value of every channel due to oversaturation.” (@cstudabaker, in response to a question regarding how to create cohesion between your website, blog, twitter, etc.)
  • “Design DOES NOT start with ‘what should it look like’. Starts with ‘What do you want to accomplish?'” (@cstudbaker)
  • “Don’t consider a single test a best practice. Test a few times, in a few places. If you have a program, set a schedule, and set times to BREAK the standard format. Makes experimenting manageable.” (@cstudbaker)

Download the entire transcript of last week’s #NexusCafe (minus re-tweets)

Email Design Resources and Inspiration

The participants in #NexusCafe suggested a number of great resources and sources of inspiration for email design. Here’s a few that were mentioned:

  • Groupon’s Welcome Email
  • CB2’s mix of fun creative and customer reviews
  • Chris’ new design for Reliant Energy that helped increase clicks and conversions
  • CampaignMonitor’s blog and gallery of well-designed emails
  • Using Emailium to search for competitor emails and search by color
  • Checking out single-page design. Good examples are Alfred and Kaleidoscope
  • An overview of a recent newsletter redesign
  • Inspirational brands: Skype, Mint, Anthropologie, Jetsetter, Folica and Sephora

Twitter Chats Promote Collaboration and Inspiration

One of the biggest things I took away from these chats was a boatload of inspiration. Something magical happens when a group of like-minded, smart and passionate people gather together to share information and collaborate. One good idea is fueled by another, and before long you’ve suddenly had an epiphany, started a new company or solved world peace! Well, maybe not… but at least you’ve walked away energized with great ideas and new connections.

Join us for #LitmusChat

We’re taking that inspiration and starting our own Twitter Chat! Join the Litmus staff on Wednesday, March 30th at 11am EST for our very first chat with Paul, Danielle and Justine. We’ll be talking about some new features we’re working on and looking for your feedback and suggestions. Just follow the hashtag #LitmusChat to join the conversation!