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Newsletter Academy Mail Designer 365 EN

Guide to Email Marketing for Indie App Developers

By | Newsletter Academy Mail Designer 365 EN

After months of building a new app and getting it ready for release, you now need to promote it. Here are some tips on indie software marketing and how to increase app sales through email marketing…

Building up a mailing list

First, you’ll need a way to contact your customers.

If your app uses accounts, you may already have a list of email addresses, provided these customers consented to being contacted. If not, be sure to have a sign-up form in your app, as well as on your website or blog.

Slack include a newsletter sign up form on their blog to encourage blog readers to opt in for email alerts. After all, if they’re interested in your blog content, they’ll most likely want to know what’s happening within your company!

Use a sign up box to get more contacts for your mailing list

Creating an app release newsletter

An app release newsletter is a really good place for you to start your email marketing journey. Present your latest app update and highlight the best new features. Here are some key things to try and incorporate into your design:

Screenshots of the app
You and your team have spent a long time designing the UI and now’s the time to show it off. For style points you can even use a gif to show off particularly beautiful transitions or features.

In this example, Lyft shows readers how their app works in three simple screenshots. In doing so, they are highlighting the key selling points of their app at the same time as showing off a sleek UI.

Include screenshots of the app in use to show off the UI to customers.

Pricing tables
If your app offers different pricing plans or a free and paid tier, you should highlight the options in your newsletter. With a clear table layout, you can help readers understand and compare plans.

In Mail Designer 365 you can build informative tables in minutes. On mobile your table will be automatically presented in a stunning card layout – perfect for advertising the best features of your app.

Try including a table in your newsletter to give a clear overview of plans and features.

Direct download buttons
Include one clear call-to-action (CTA) in your email so it’s super easy to find the download for your app. The quicker, the better, as the idea will be fresh in your reader’s mind.

Tip: Use the campaign link generation tool in App Store Connect to create a unique campaign url, that will let you track installs that came from your newsletter in your App Store Analytics

Dog care app Rover includes a download link for both the App Store and the Google Play Store in the footer of their email newsletter. This gets straight to the point and shows customers exactly how they can get their hands on the app:

Include a link straight to the App Store so customers can quickly download your app.

Mobile optimization
The majority of us prefer to view our emails on the go on a mobile device and if your email isn’t mobile-optimized, you’re missing a serious opportunity.

Mail Designer 365 automatically generates a mobile version of your design for smartphones and Apple Watch. This means you can even include separate call-to-action links, e.g. a direct App Store link for smartphone readers and a link to your webpage for desktop readers.

Once you’ve finished, you can preview your content on the latest devices, including iPhone XS, iPhone XR, Apple Watch Series 4, etc:

Create a mobile version of your design in Mail Designer 365.

With these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to building an effective and informative release newsletter for your app.

Once you’ve found a regular rythym for release newsletters, consider adding onboarding emails and customer retention emails to your email strategy.

Until next time!

Your Mail Designer 365 Team

Give Mail Designer 365 a try today for free…

Mail Designer 365 helps you create stylish, professional HTML emails on your Mac. Download for free to see what you can achieve.

 

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Creating Project Status Reports using HTML Tables

By | Newsletter Academy Mail Designer 365 EN

Project status reports are a super productive way to help you and your team keep track of an ongoing project or business venture. Although they are usually built using Excel or similar programmes, you can actually build a detailed project status report right inside an email.

Sounds complicated? It’s definitely not! Here are our top tips on how you can use Mail Designer 365 to build a visually effective report which you can integrate into your email…

What to include in your report

The exact contents of your project status report will vary depending on what your project is and who is involved. In order for your report to be as effective as possible, you need to consider what it is that you want to communicate to the rest of your team. Here are some of the most important criteria associated with any project:

  • Financial status: Are you inside your planned budget? What is the total cost so far?
  • Progress made since the last report: Which actions have been taken? How does this compare to planned progress?
  • Risk assessment: Are there any new risks? How could they delay completion?
  • Outstanding tasks: What is yet to be completed? Will this delay completion of the project?
  • Timeline: What is the expected completion date? How does this differ to the planned completion date?

How to present your report

There are a number of popular ways of effectively presenting a project status report. Here are some key factors to include:
Color
Using color is a great way to make the information in your table more visually effective.You can use whatever color scheme you like to brighten up your report, but one popular choice is the traffic light system. Use green for the positive aspects of your project (e.g. what is going well), amber for the aspects which need improvement, and red for the things which need to be addressed urgently (e.g. risk factors.) Here is an example of a project status report using the traffic light system.

An example report using the traffic light system

Scope of the report
Depending on the length of your project, you may have to present the information in your report differently. Reports can be sent out weekly, monthly, quarterly, or, in some cases, as a one off. If possible, it is good to include some way of comparing progress with previous reports. You can do this by including a simple summary of the previous reports (e.g. the previous 3 months.)

Key information
As well as the evaluation criteria for your report, a well-presented report should also contain the key information about the project. Particularly in bigger businesses where multiple projects may be happening at once, it is useful to label the report correctly to avoid confusion for yourself and other team members. Most importantly you should include:

  • Project name and ID code (if applicable)
  • Date of report
  • Name of project manager
  • Target completion date

Example of key information for a project report

You can also include the following information if you feel it is relevant:

  • Project department
  • Project phase
  • Project budget
  • Priority level
  • Project sponsor
  • Costs so far
  • Start date of project

How to build your report in Mail Designer 365

Step One: Set up a table in Mail Designer 365

In Mail Designer 365, project status reports can be quickly built up using the tables feature. Go to “Contents” > “Layout Blocks” and scroll down to the bottom to find the table blocks. You can then drag and drop a block into your email design.

Drag and drop a table block into your design to get started

Step Two: Fill in your evaluation criteria

Double click on a table cell to edit text. You can insert as many components as you like depending on your needs. To adjust the amount of rows and columns, click on the table. This will open the style menu. Click on “Structure” and use the formatting tools to build up your table.

Add rows and columns for your evaluation criteria

Step Three: Add some color

We talked about the importance of using color in your report. Customize the color layout of your table by clicking on a cell and opening the “Color” section in the “Style” menu. Here you can change the color of one cell, or an entire column or row.

Adjust color settings to make your table more visually effective

There are several ways you can incorporate the traffic light system. We suggest using shapes, as this is visually effective and easy to copy and paste. In this example, we are using circles:

  • Set the cell content to image block. You can do this in the “Cell Content Type” section.
  • Head to the “Contents” tab in the sidebar, find “Shapes” and drag a shape into the cell.
  • Click on the shape to change the color according to the traffic light system.
  • Copy and paste the shape until you have filled up all of the criteria.

Use shapes to recreate the traffic light style

Step Four: Add information

The traffic light system is useful, but it is much better to have some written information included in the table to give your team some context. In the last column, you can write down your notes as to why each section has been graded red/amber/green. Make sure to change the cell content type for this column to text:

In the final column you can include written notes for your team

It’s up to you how you present the key information about the project. We simply inserted another mini table above the main report with 2 rows and enough columns for the key information. This clearly labels the project report and gives your colleagues some context before they start reading.

For context, add a table with your key information above the report

Extra Tip: Save your table layout

Although setting up a table in Mail Designer 365 is super straightforward, it’s not actually something you have to do each time you want to send a report out to your team. You can save your table layout so that all you have to do next time is edit the cell contents. To do this, go to the “Layout blocks” menu again, open the “Ready-Made” tab, then hold down the “cmd” key and click on the layout handle of your table(s) and drag it into the sidebar to save.

Save your table blocks in the ready-made blocks section for next time

Reports made easy with Mail Designer 365

 
Take the hassle out of building and sharing project status reports and do everything in one app. With Mail Designer 365 you can build brilliant HTML emails using drag and drop and create a report to rival Excel. Use the tables feature to build up a professional report which is fully integrated into your email and then send directly via the app from your own email address. No attachments, no fuss, just one app.
 

Give Mail Designer 365 a try today for free…

Mail Designer 365 helps you create stylish, professional HTML emails on your Mac. Download for free to see what you can achieve.

 

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How to Make Your Email Campaigns More Inclusive and Accessible

By | Newsletter Academy Mail Designer 365 EN

Our world is diverse and your customer base is too. With marketing becoming increasingly globalised, it’s important to ensure that your campaigns reflect and support the huge variety of customers your business has. Even small businesses cater to a large range of people differing in age, gender, race, religion, physical ability, etc. These are all qualities which make your customers unique and for this reason, it’s great for your business to celebrate and recognise them where you can. Here are some ways you can make your email campaigns more inclusive and accessible to your customers.

Get to know your target audience

The more you know about your customers, the more you can directly target your campaigns. For example, if you know the majority of your customers are from one country, you can make an effort to recognise national holidays which would be important to them and form a closer bond. You can use questionnaires, Twitter polls, and detailed sign up forms to try and find out more about the demographic of your customer base and adapt your marketing strategy accordingly.

This fun email design from Love Culture Clothing gives back to customers of Mexican origin with a 20% discount for their Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

Avoid generalisations or stereotypes

Because our world is so diverse, it is important to recognise that your customers are not a homogenous group – they each have different needs and different interests. In the past, businesses have experienced problems by trying to use stereotypes in their marketing campaigns. These types of generalisations may be funny to some, but will cause offence and upset to others. A prime example of stereotypes gone wrong is this very subjective idea of the “perfect body” from Victoria’s Secret. This marketing campaign received a barrage of complaints for featuring just one body type and failing to represent its hugely diverse global customer base.

This shortsighted Victoria’s Secret campaign rightfully sparked complaints from customers worldwide.

Think carefully about your images

Continuing from the previous point, it’s also important to show diversity in any images you’re using in your email designs. A picture is worth a thousand words, so it’s important to choose the right image for your campaign. If you can, try to choose a photo where you can see a range of different people doing different things. The more diverse the photos you include in your emails are, the more inclusive they become. Here are four great examples of brands who use diverse imagery to create inclusive marketing campaigns…

Nike’s Pro Hijab campaign

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign

Lloyd’s TSB 2012 Paralympics campaign

Tesco’s Food Love Stories campaign

Make your emails accessible

One way you can ensure your email designs are inclusive is by making them accessible to people of varying abilities. Here are three simple steps you can take to make your email design more accessible using Mail Designer 365:

Create a plain text version of your email design. Customers with visual impairments may use a special screen reading device to read your email message. These devices struggle with HTML emails, which is why it is good practice for you to always include a plain text version which summarises the contents of your email. This is easy to do in Mail Designer 365, simply switch to the plain text/Apple Watch view to create the non-HTML version.

Create a plain text version for visually impaired recipients using screen readers

Be careful with your colors  For readers with visual impairments such as color blindness, it can be difficult to decipher a HTML email design. Some popular color combinations which can be particularly confusing for users with color blindness include: green & blue, green & red, blue & grey, and blue & purple. Try and avoid these combinations where possible. Strongly contrasting combinations work well – use a light hue for the background and a darker, bolder hue for your text to make it more prominent.

Use a clear typeface There are also many steps you can take for recipients with reading difficulties such as Dyslexia or Alexia. Try and use a sans serif font where possible, as the individual characters are easy to identify. You should also try to avoid using italics or calligraphy style fonts, as these distort the words even more. Use a fairly large font size and avoid using justified text, as this is very difficult for the majority of dyslexics to read.

Mail Designer 365 has a range of text options to make your email easy to read

Celebrate everyone

We touched upon this earlier on, but it’s good to get involved in as many celebrations as you can. Celebrations and holidays such as Pride Month, Black History Month, International Women’s Day, etc, are all super positive ways of celebrating our diverse world and will make your email campaigns much more inclusive. This inspiring campaign from Everlane acknowledges Pride Month by celebrating humanity.

This email design from Everlane is super positive and inclusive

We hope we’ve managed to inspire you with these tips on how to make your marketing campaigns more inclusive and accessible for your diverse email audience. With just a few small changes, you can work wonders with an inclusive email marketing campaign. Try it out in Mail Designer 365!

Until next time!
Your Mail Designer 365 Team

Give Mail Designer 365 a try today for free…

Mail Designer 365 helps you create stylish, professional HTML emails on your Mac. Download for free to see what you can achieve.

 

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Check Out these Epic Email Fails You Should Avoid at All Costs

By | Newsletter Academy Mail Designer 365 EN

To us email geeks, it seems like common knowledge that an all-image email is just not the way to go when it comes to email design best practice… So why is it that so many businesses (big and small alike) are still making this mistake as well as a variety of other “rookie” design errors? To find out how big the problem really is, we’ve scoured the web for some of the most *facepalm* worthy email design fails and what you can do to actively avoid them!

Mobile respon-what?

In this day and age you’d think it would be obvious that anything digital/HTML based (we’re talking websites, emails, etc.) should be optimized for viewing on smartphones. Mobile responsive design is massively important, as studies show that 75% of consumers check their emails most often on their smartphones. If this really is the case, why are businesses still forgetting to make their designs mobile-friendly? I hope you’ve got your magnifying glasses at the ready, because here are a few painful examples of brands who did not get the mobile memo…

If you’re wondering how to avoid this mishap without using any complex coding methods, Mail Designer 365 automatically creates a mobile optimized version of every email design. Switch to the mobile view and you can create content especially for people viewing your email on a smartphone. Clever right? Things like shorter text segments, single-column layouts, and mobile-friendly fonts are all great for your responsive design.

Mobile view preview

A picture DOES NOT speak one thousand words…

…If your customer’s email client doesn’t automatically display images! We know it’s tempting to create email designs that are all image based. They look cool and you can probably enjoy more design freedom, but it’s not good practice.  Here’s a few reasons why you should avoid image based emails where possible:

They’re way more likely to end up in the spam folder
Spam filters are getting stricter and most spam filters are programmed to watch out for all image emails; probably because it’s not good practice and not something to expect from a pro designer! Once your emails start landing in the spam folder, your deliverability rates are going to start going downhill, and the content you spent so long working on will be missed. Is it worth it? Definitely not! This email design from Mara Hoffman sure looks cool, but it would have been 10x more effective if it didn’t land in my spam folder.

They load much slower
It’s fairly clear that an image (especially a high resolution image) will load slower than text. This is why we always advise a healthy balance of both image and text in email newsletters. The images keep things interesting, whereas the text ensures readers still have some content to go on if the images take too long to load – especially important when using a slow public WiFi or a 3G connection. Obviously an all image email won’t provide this balance, and if it doesn’t load, you’re left with something like this…

…Not really a great selling point for your product.

If you want to create a similar effect to the previous design from Mara Hoffman, try using a photo background. This way you can still incorporate real text in your email, as well as creative, colorful design.

If you think this is bad, even big name brands are guilty of it too! Yes we’re looking at you Google.. This all-image email design is definitely not on point.

HTML horror stories

Many common email mistakes often arise from bad HTML or coding gone wrong. HTML can be tricky to work with. Even if you make one tiny mistake, it can have massive consequences on your email design. To save time and money, there are quite a few businesses who attempt to use DIY coding methods which don’t always go to plan. This paired with a lack of proper testing can lead to email blunders such as this one from West Elm… This is exactly why a WYSIWYG editor is always a good idea guys!

Segmentation Gone Wrong…

Segmentation can also be a huge problem when it comes to email marketing. Just one wrong click and your email could be sent to a completely different target group than what you expected. Take this example from PopSugar: “Win a trip for 2 to Sri Lanka” – sounds pretty exciting, right?! Too bad you can’t enter because of your location… Oops!

Another shudder-inducing example was the infamous baby registry email from Amazon a few years back. A harmless transactional-style email designed to inform parents-to-be of a new gift went terribly wrong and turned into a PR nightmare for the global brand. Instead of sending the email to expecting couples, it went to people not expecting a baby at all! Awkward for Amazon and another reason to pay close attention when hitting that send button.

Catastrophic Call-To-Actions

Any email marketer will tell you that the call-to-action (CTA) is the heart of your newsletter. If you get this wrong, then your email isn’t likely to succeed. Despite having this drilled into them since day one, many designers still manage to get it wrong. Generally speaking, your CTA should be prominent and easy to find. In this design from Macy’s, there are so many different CTAs that the customer doesn’t know where to look (or click.) If it were me opening this email, I wouldn’t be inclined to click through to their website. Too much choice is never a good thing when it comes to email marketing…

On the other hand, with this email from Tom Ford, it seems the designer was trying a little too hard to be minimalistic. So much, that the reader can barely find the CTA.. Your customers definitely won’t click on your links if they can’t even see them in the first place!

Hopefully you’ve found these epic newsletter fails somewhat amusing if not helpful! If you come across any more cringe-worthy email fails you want to share with us, drop us a tweet or send us an email!

Until next time!

Your Mail Designer 365 Team

Give Mail Designer 365 a try today for free…

Mail Designer 365 helps you create stylish, professional HTML emails on your Mac. Download for free to see what you can achieve.

 

Try for free

Useful Email Marketing Resources for Small Businesses

By | Newsletter Academy Mail Designer 365 EN

Email marketing is a huge topic, and for small businesses, it might seem like finding the appropriate tools to get the job done is an almost impossible challenge. It’s clear that there are plenty of expensive resources in place for corporations and big businesses with massive budgets and years of experience, but what about those of us who are just starting out? From one growing business to another, here are some of our top recommendations for useful email marketing resources designed to help out small businesses.

Stage One: Planning and strategy

One of the first big steps to take when planning your email marketing campaign is developing an email marketing strategy unique to your business. In our experience, blogs are a great place to find ideas and tips about best practice for email marketing. There are loads of email marketing blogs out there but two which we would really recommend are the Email on Acid blog and the Campaign Monitor blog. Both of these are run by email experts and regularly cover a wide range of interesting topics. It’s definitely worth checking them out.

Use email marketing blogs to get ideas and tips

We’ll also take this opportunity to plug our two blogs: The Newsletter Academy offers an intensive set of useful email marketing tutorials, designed to help you build up an effective email marketing strategy from the ground up. The 365 Blog is your insight into everything email. Here you can stay up to date on what’s new in the email world – perfect for keeping informed.

The Mail Designer 365 Newsletter Academy offers insightful email marketing knowledge

Stage Two: Design inspiration

Design is obviously a huge part of your email marketing campaign, as it’s often the thing which attracts your customers in the first place. Even if you don’t have a professional designer on hand, or if you’re just starting out, you don’t need to panic! There are plenty of resources out there to provide you with design inspiration and cool ideas for your next email. Really Good Emails is a great resource for businesses looking for ideas. They post best practice examples of really good email designs (the clue is in the name really) to inspire businesses and designers.

Really Good Emails showcases some of the best email designs

If you’re a Pinterest fan, then good news! As well as being an awesome place to find life hacks, cool recipe ideas and genius travel tips, Pinterest is also a great tool for your business. Thousands of designers use Pinterest to collect ideas and inspiration, and it’s easy to find amazing email designs to help you gain some new ideas. Create your own board of pins, or check out our huge selection of curated email design examples.

Check out Pinterest for creative inspiration

Stage Three: Creating your email

There’s no beating around the bush here, HTML can be hard work. Especially for small businesses and startups with a lot going on, email design can be time consuming, and, if you don’t know the ins and outs of coding, it can also be expensive to try and hire someone who does. This is where Mail Designer 365 comes in (#shamelessplugalert.) With Mail Designer 365, you can make the most of a drag and drop email builder with countless design resources and creative tools for building mobile-responsive email designs. Find out more here.

Mail Designer 365 is brilliant for quickly creating stunning HTML emails

Another great tool to help you build up your email is Unsplash. The Unsplash platform offers you free access to a huge library of license-free stock photos to use in your email designs. These images are fully licensed for use in both creative and commercial ventures, so you can find the perfect image for your design without having to worry about high costs or copyright issues. The best part? Unsplash is fully integrated within the Mail Designer 365 app, so you can search for amazing, high-quality images with no extra hassle.

Explore Unsplash for a huge range of license-free photos

Stage Four: Compatibility check

One hugely popular resource for testing the compatibility of your HTML email is Litmus. Litmus is a great resource, as it allows you to preview your email in dozens of different email clients, and also offers tools for spam testing. However, plans are pretty expensive. Basic plans start at $79 per month, and for access to spam testing, you’re looking at the Plus plan for $159 per month. There’s no denying it’s a great resource to have, but for small businesses and startups looking to save money where possible, it may not be a realistic option.

Litmus is a good but pricey option for compatibility testing

Included in the price of a Mail Designer 365 plan, users also have access to the Test Flight feature. With this, you can send a test version of your email design to up to 8 different email addresses for inbox preview. By using test accounts from the most popular email clients (e.g. Outlook, Apple Mail, Gmail, etc.), you will still gain a pretty good overview of your design’s compatibility:

Mail Designer 365’s Testflight service for testing emails before sending

In terms of spam testing, you can use the free spam checker at mail-tester.com to find out how your email rates in terms of spam filters etc. Also not a bad idea for those of you looking to save money.

Check your email for spam risks at mail-tester.com 

Stage Five: Email Service Providers

After you’ve tested your email and been given the all clear, you’re ready to send. There are tonnes of different services available for you to use to send your emails, but one of the most popular options is MailChimp. With flexible plans and the option to directly send emails from Mail Designer 365, this is definitely a resource we would recommend. Depending on the size of your email list and the volume of emails you send out per month, you may even be able to use MailChimp completely for free.

Send directly via MailChimp in Mail Designer 365

Stage Six: Performance review

The work isn’t over just because you’ve sent your email out! You want to be able to check how well your email performed so you can improve your strategy and start the cycle all over again for next time. Good marketing is all about learning and adapting from past experiences. One great tool to help you keep track of your email performance is Google Analytics. You can set up Google tracking links to help you assess how many of your readers clicked on a particular link in your email. For more detailed advice on how to set this up, check out this guide.

Use Google Analytics to check your email’s performance

We hope that you find these email marketing resources for small businesses helpful in planning and creating your next email campaigns.

Until next time!

Your Mail Designer 365 Team

Give Mail Designer 365 a try today for free…

Mail Designer 365 helps you create stylish, professional HTML emails on your Mac. Download for free to see what you can achieve.

 

Try for free