Part of my duties as Nortrax’s Digital Marketing Specialist was to create monthly ‘eAlerts’ which were emails that were to be sent out to all Nortrax employees and Nortrax newsletter subscribers. I was responsible for the creation of assets to be used in the emails, the full email structure and design and sending of the emails through Salesforce.
I was tasked with working with the other members of the marketing department and Used equipment team to gather the most important deals or information that should be presented in the emails along with a list of 6 featured used equipment that would be featured in the Used equipment section of the email at the bottom of the eAlert.
In dealing with the creation of emails there is a lot to consider, outside of the design of the promotional advertisement. There is a plethora of different things to consider on the email design alone, such as subject line, preheader, email layout etc. While it would not be productive to go through all the important aspects of designing an email, I will highlight of the important aspects that were considered in the designing of our particular promotional emails, much of which was dictated through John Deere’s own digital marketing staff.
Since the subject line and preheader of the email are the first thing subscribers see before even the email itself, and is an important aspect of getting opens, it was one of the primary focus points we looked at in creating Nortrax’s emails. Our main approach was to include either an inticing proposition such as exclusivity (Nortrax Exclusive Offer) or a catchy CTA (Save 20% off Now) within the header or preheader in order to grab the user's attention.
One of the most important aspects, that was identified, to have in Nortrax’s emails was to personalize the emails to the intended recipient, usually in the header or in the opening line of the email. That was done to help the email seem more personable, and curated toward the recipient rather than seem as an impersonal and generic, marketing email.
Another thing that was paramount in creating the emails was to make sure the most important/intriguing offer or announcement was placed first. The was done because, based on studies, it was determined that the average person looks at an email for less than 8 seconds after opening. We wanted to make sure that in that time the most appealing offers and images would be presented and result in conversion.
Additionally, where/whenever it was possible, we tried to include a video within the first offer. This helped increase conversion by around 80%. If a video was not applicable or available for the offer the hero image itself was made clickable so that even in the absence of a video, the hope was that by making the image interactive we would still be able to convert subscribers. We made sure to make the offers pronounced and visible with call-to-action buttons clearly separated and visible as well.
We wanted to ensure was covered in Nortrax emails was its ability to be viewed in mobile devices as it was found that 42% of our subscribers viewed their emails through phone so ensuring that the contents of our email would still be readable and stack correctly on phones was of paramount importance.
Lastly, John Deere’s research team found that 70% of recipients did not open the email the first time it was delivered but found that 40-50% of those recipients at least opened the email the second time it was sent, provided that there was enough time between both email sends. Therefore, through Salesforce we made sure to set up email journey's where, opens were tracked and emails would be resent between 3-5 days to any recipient who had not opened the first email.
Much of the research conducted on how to design the emails came from using inhouse examples.
John Deere sends out a similar type of email, focused on John Deere equipment specifics, that I felt had the design aspects I was looking too emulate.
I wanted to have an email that felt cohesive and fell into the theme of ruggedness and handwork. I felt that John Deere's email structure of a continuous email with sections framed with page tears and paint strokes really helped sell the idea that their construction and forestry equipment was all about getting down and dirty to put in a hard day's work.
Much like how pickup trucks are advertised John Deere really leaned into selling their construction machines and tough, robust, heavy lifting, hardworking, masculine machinery that could easily tackle any and all hard jobs put before it. This type of messaging was used in their customer newsletters both in text and appearance and I felt it was the perfect type of messaging and format that would work well for our Nortrax customers.
The design phase consisted of two main parts. The first would be the creation of the image assets to be used in the email and the second was the email itself.
For designing the email features, the deals or news that would be presented, I primarily used photoshop to create the necessary images. Being a subset of John Deere, and having access to John Deere’s Media library, much of the imagery used for these eAlerts were gathered from John Deere.
John Deere’s monthly eAlert mostly focused on their machines and attachments, as such they did little in the way of placing text on the actual images themselves, instead leaving most of the text, for the body of the email. However, because Nortrax dealt with advertising deals and promotions as well, I decided that it would be efficient to use some of the real estate on the images to include text. My intention was to use the images and text as the ‘Title’ of the email feature.
Most of the features involved using John Deere imagery and displaying text on the image that was consistent with the text and display used in the advertised promotion, or in a way that would be eye catching but work with the picture being used.
For designing the email, because Nortrax is a subset of Deere we were able to leverage much of tools and assets that were afforded to Deere’s marketing team. In the case of the emails this meant having access to Salesforce, an online solution for customer relationship management. Salesforce was used as the primary method of sending out our company's emails as it allowed for tracking of email statistics (bounce rates, open rates, unsubscribes, etc.).
In addition, Salesforce offered a robust email templating system meaning that we had the ability to create emails using drag and drop components for contents and formatting rather than straight coding the emails. The templates were also designed as ‘bulletproof’ meaning that they were guaranteed to display properly across the numerous email services.
Using this templating system, I would be able to drag in my images along with text and button blocks to make each section of the email. I would then play with the templating controls to ensure that there were no margins separating the images and text blocks/buttons to create the look of one unified email with sections leading into one another.
The ultimate focus of the Nortrax ‘eAlerts’ were to offer Nortrax subscribers up-to-date monthly information with regards to Nortrax events and special parts and service deals. With the incorporation of emailing insights and design principles offered by John Deere, we were able to create informative and enticing content that yielded respectable open and click through rates.
Over the course of the Year 2019 the average open rate for Nortrax ‘eAlerts’ was around 29% and click-through rates sat around 7% with an average click-to-open rate of 25%. These metrics help show that through careful application of the design principles and strong attention to creating meaningful content we were able to create mails which performed well within and in some areas exceeded standard industry averages.
Admittedly, small adjustments could be made, in future email designs, to create more concise wording and messaging in the text portions of the email. In order to ensure brand and offer messaging was consistent, a lot of text copy used in John Deere’s own advertisements. However, most of these texts weren’t streamlined for a more concise message that could be used in email form. Ultimately it was decided that it would be best to leave the text as it was in Nortrax’s emails so as not to misconstrue what was being offered. Upon reflection certain liberties could be taken, in the future, to condense the messaging into more compendiary language.