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Reaching your target group via the inbox is a growing challenge
E-mail is still the digital channel that creates the greatest ROI (return on investment) for those who use their data and their tools properly. What are the latest trends in e-mail marketing and how can good design make your newsletter more effective?
We got some answers from Tim Hansson, graphic designer and expert in the design of e-mail campaigns with APSIS. More than 6,000 customers around the world use the APSIS newsletter tool to send one million e-mails every hour, around the clock. In our interview you'll get more tips and tricks from Tim that you can start using today.
Hi Tim! How are things in the digital newsletter as a marketing channel in 2015?
"The newsletter is a workhorse that still has high relevance. Properly used, the newsletter can improve customer loyalty, increase sales and strengthen the brand overall. There is so much to gain! Having a mobile-optimized design is something we strongly recommend."

Why is it important to have a mobile-optimized design?

"We live with our mobile phones around the clock and check our e-mail on the phone several times a day. Particularly in business-to-consumer campaigns, opening stats for newsletters and conversion rates on the mobile are high. In business-to-business campaigns, we often see the newsletter gets opened first on the mobile and later on the computer."
What are the visual trends in e-mail marketing right now?
"We are seeing flat design all over the place. As many already know, this means a minimalist and simple design that takes away any sense of depth and any excess decoration. Instead, the focus is on typography, form and color. Now that we have used flat design for so long a version 2.0 has emerged, which creates more depth and uses background patterns."

"Also the use of 'white space' is more pronounced, plenty of space between each element. It is ideal for e-mail marketing since 'white space' brings simplicity and clarity. We do not read digital texts directly, but we scan and look for key points."
What role do you think images play in a newsletter?

"Pictures are becoming increasingly important and are an exceptionally effective way to convey a message and a sense of feeling. Qualitative images create dedication and a positive user experience. Images make it easier to get into a text and create an overview of the content. It is no coincidence that sites like Instagram and Pinterest are growing so strongly."
Do you see any particular picture trends at the moment?

"Today work and free time are no longer neatly compartmentalised. So business-to-businesss, and business-to-comsumer are not as relevant as your starting point should be H2H communication – human-to-human."
 
"Another trend is the use of images to describe plain facts. For example, a clothing store that communicates that they have a 20% discount sale by showing a picture where clothes are shaped into piles to form the figures 20%. I also see using GIF images as a third trend, animated still images that create movement."
 
Retina displays - what is that all about and how does it affect us?
"A retina display has a higher pixel density than other monitors, so pictures are reproduced with an enormous amount of sharpness and clarity. It means images need to be twice as large so they don't appear blurred on a retina display."

"Retina displays are available on most smartphones and a growing number of computer monitors too. It becomes a balancing act between having large enough images to make them look good, while keeping file size as light as possible. A guideline is that a picture should never have a file size of more than 400-500 kb."
What advice can you offer to those that are eager to increase the effectiveness of their e-mail campaigns?

"First and foremost, make sure it is a mobile-optimized design and ideally the landing page should also be optimized for mobile. You will always get good results if you spend time on typography. A little depends on which font size you use, but our general recommendation is to use size 16 px. And do not forget to make clear buttons that can easily be clicked on the mobile device. A finger is 46 px wide."
 
"You then need to make priorities in your content. Remove all unnecessary items and work with the pictures. Finally, do your best to find a selling subject line. 35% of the opening stats are governed solely by what it says on the subject line. If you have the opportunity to test different subject lines by mailing smaller segments of your address list, do so."
The ingredients of a really bad e-mail campaign according to Tim
• The newsletter lacks a clear purpose.
 
• It is unclear what you want the reader to do because the newsletter has no clear call-to-actions and buttons.
 
• Bad typography that makes the message difficult to read and buttons that are too small.
 
• Not given priority to content so that the newsletter contains too many things and the most important thing is not at the top.
 
• The images are not clickable.
 
• The newsletter has irrelevant content for the reader.
 
• You do not have the reader's permission to send e-mail.
5 questions that will help you achieve success with your newsletter
• Who do you send to?
 
• Why are you sending this newsletter?
 
• What do you want the reader to do?
 
• When is an appropriate sending time?
 
• Where will the recipient likely be when he/she receives the mail?
 
Tip
Five reasons to follow us on Instagram
We are now on Instagram as johnerimages. We'd love to see you there!

• You'll receive a stream of inspiring images that may not always be easy to find on your own.
 
• Our account is hijacked from time to time by our photographers, so you get different perspectives on photography, and not just ours.  
 
• You can keep up with life behind the scenes of an image agency. We promise, it's more exciting than you might think.
 
• We will have contests where you can win great pictures from our top photographers.
 
• You can see and be inspired by how Johnér images are used by other customers. Perhaps you have a customer case with Johnér images that you can share?
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