Impossibly Beautiful Email Design

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Automation is changing marketing at a fundamental level, on a daily basis. Only moments ago, I reached out on Slack to a software expert in another country.?? We brainstormed a way to automate the process of enlisting Facebook Group members to subscribe to an email list. It wasn’t that long ago that I had to fly to a conference to find out what Slack even was!

It also hasn’t been that long since I discovered that the epicenter of marketing automation is in email marketing for ecommerce stores. Hands down, it creates the most value as measured in real money ?. It’s here that marketers are providing the most sophisticated personalization of any channel. The tools to help are growing by leaps and bounds: predictive analytics, microsegmentation, send-time optimization and impossibly beautiful email design.

Wait, what? ? Oh, that’s right. We actually don’t have impossibly beautiful email design yet. We have everything else I listed and more. However, even the most sophisticated email management tools still require us to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get those blocks to line up just a little bit better….. Without breaking in mobile?, of course. This is the cost of automation. 

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After all, email software is just database technology with a GUI interface. It takes something designed to render into HTML powerful tracking and personalization functionality and makes it easy to use. That’s a tall order. As a result some design aesthetic is going to “drag and drop” through the cracks. Klaviyo emails, for example, come out great and generate impressive sales. But, at the end of the day, its template editor is still assembling the design out of relatively large blocks ???, not nearly infinitely arrangeable pixels. 

That’s why I was honored to join The Template Team at Hustler Marketing. This was the very team that, yes, set out to snap this conundrum in two by attempting to create an impossibly beautiful email within Klaviyo’s template editor.  (This was a task so worthy, it turns out, that we were given our own invitation-only ?Slack channel. Pretty cool.)

Our first step was research. We began collecting the emails that sell consumer packaged goods for Global Fortune 500 companies. Could we reverse-engineer the ones we really liked to learn their secrets? We spied their clever little accents, peeked at their enticing curves ⧼⧽ — so un-block-like — and cased their text-to-image ratios?.

We created a Photoshop design that we then cut into puzzle-piece sections, ready for Klaviyo text blocks to be inserted between the lines. It seemed promising until GLock’s spam test ⛔ told us otherwise. 

So we considered fusing our sales copy directly into Photoshop imagery. We would then quietly insert into the footer, in tiny print, an extra dose of text as a sort of spam-filter inoculation??. We could simply cut and paste directly from our clients’ About Us pages. It almost looked natural, well, in a bureaucratic way. And surely our alluring Photoshop design would beckon the eye back where it belongs, right?

But GLock was still not allured⛔, so we were back to the drawing board. We took a harder look at the HTML tab of Klaviyo’s Editor and researched some more. Automation to the rescue — turns out, there are now software plugins that interface with HTML editors which streamline the process! ? Reinvigorated, we went to work on a new design, and a new workflow to incorporate the software into our copy and design processes. 

Bottom line: it was a great success. Our first HTML email outsold a pitch for the same product by nearly five times, and we successfully created a system to replicate it. Is it impossibly beautiful? Well, it does look gorgeous, and it’s certainly a step closer…or about five steps. ?

With the pace of things today, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of software options, but, actually, that’s a good thing. Eventually, that’s how you free up resources and create better outcomes. 

What challenges are you trying to solve with automation software? Comment below (or Slack me?) and let me know!

Thomas McClintock

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