061: Creative Email Marketing with Emma [Email Marketing Series #4 of 6]

Beyond The Broadcast- Doing more with email marketing

Today we are tackling the 4th episode of our 6 part series. We are talking with Tyler Sutton with the email marketing company Emma. Emma creates beautiful emails. Emma registered on my radar about 10 years ago, which in internet years is a long time! There is so much that Emma is doing that is effective, compelling, and pushing the needle forward. The experience that Tyler brings with him to this conversation is all about what you can do with email marketing regardless of the platform.

All About Emma

Since about 2003, Emma has evolved with online marketing just as everything online evolves. The initiative behind the platform itself was to create a really user friendly tool to conduct email marketing to help you reach your audience. One thing stressed from the beginning was the user friendliness of it. They wanted to make it easy to get your content into email. They created emails that are appealing and professional which makes them feel like they come with some authority.

Type of Clients That Work with Emma

Emma works with users across all industry from sports teams to restaurants to small businesses and even retail. With their most recent release of the Emma HQ platform they have seen a lot of great use out of restaurants or more franchise based businesses. They can break down all the franchises into sub accounts and have them still under one umbrella. Emma really welcomes every industry.

Let’s Talk Sub Accounts

A key concept in email marketing is being able to personalize it and create a relationship. From a sub account/franchise model you would want to do that with each location. With this functionality there are separate sub accounts. Each sub account may present itself as a different location, franchise locations or separate but connected entities. Inside the EmmaHQ sub accounts can create their own mailings, manage their lists, look at their response data, and even set up automation. This allows them to have accounts for each location without data crossing over into another. You can keep everything separate so subscribers who signed up to receive information from that location are getting emails only concerning things at the location they signed up for. It allows you to keep better organized and stay in compliance.

Each sub account requires an opt in to help you stay in compliance. Each sub account is counted separately; all campaigns and audiences are linked only to that sub account. It kinda doesn’t matter who pays the bill, there is no sharing across accounts. On the HQ level you there is access to sub account analytics, and the ability to create account wide templates can then be shared down to the sub accounts.

Even if you might have 2 people under the same brand, they are going to want to communicate with their subscribers differently. But when there is something going on like maybe an Open House HQ can send that template to both people and it creates uniformity of the brand even though the accounts are separate. The HQ platform helps for any business that is expanding in from a location to a franchise level.

Emma’s Take on Automation

People love automation because it takes some work off their plate on an ongoing basis.

“In terms of automation, it really is a cornerstone in email marketing. I feel like people are catching onto that a little bit more.”- Tyler Sutton Click To Tweet

Tyler comes across people every now and then who aren’t using automation and they do have a big gap in their email marketing. The philosophy Emma has regarding automation is, “How do you leverage that tool in whatever way you are using it?” How do you leverage that tool to create a more personalized experience for your subscriber? Is it a welcome email or birthday email? Is it setting up a mailing that sends off if a subscriber clicks on a specific link? How are you going to set up automation to further that personalized experience for your subscriber?

I think that click automations are crucial and I love doing things date specific.

What kind of automations are Emma users creating?

They are using Click automation in really creative ways. Tyler goes into discussing something a coffee shop brand he worked with did. They were releasing a new holiday drink in the first part of December. So in September they sent a mailing out announcing that in December they would be releasing this new drink. Further, they had a CTA at the bottom that said “remind me closer to December. “ When people clicked the link it set up the mailing already to send out to them closer to the launch of the drink.

Tyler thinks that people are getting more creative with their content even in some of the more common workflows.


He was working with an NFL team and they were trying think about how they could make this an experience a subscriber would appreciate. Their experience was labeled “Welcome to the Team.” So right when they signed up, their subscriber got their first email with a coupon code for their team store with a graphic that said “welcome to the team.” As the series went on over the next couple of weeks, it was about finding ways to connect with the team and the final step of that was season tickets. They went from welcome to the team to let’s gear up to let’s connect and then finally be a part of action with season tickets. They got really creative with how they told a story through that welcome series.

What’s the Right Number?

Tyler says the number of emails you need to create in a series depends on what you are trying to accomplish in a welcome email/series. The question you have to ask is “What’s the content that you have? And what content is going to be the most valuable to present?” If you can deliver that content in one email then do it in one email. With the NFL team they had so much different content that they had that they were using to tell their story across a longer time. If you combined all that they had into one email it would have been a lot of noise going on. The amount of content you have and the goal that you have regarding the nurture series determines how many emails that you need to send out.

Bail Out Points in Automations

There are two things Tyler encourages you to think about. Email marketing is all about delivering relevant content so think about these things:

1) Consider your audience- In Emma we have segments that are dynamic. This means as customers data changes people may move in or out of certain workflows.

2) Branch logic- As you send out mailings you can insert “choose your own adventure” types of links. In Emma, you can set up automations that allows people to choose their own way through your content with links to click. So you can choose to send someone through the rest of the automation if they click yes and if they click no you can maybe send them another type of content.

Being able to understand who your audience is and what makes sense for them is so important. Being able to give them the opportunity to choose their path through your content may give you greater interaction with said subscriber. The welcome series is a great opportunity to collect more information from your subscriber so that you can customize their experience. It really goes a long way to help you build a long term relationship with subscribers.

Inside the Emma Platform

Emma has every tool imaginable that you can think of to get started. The whole app is broken down into 5 tabs. You have the homepage that provides some overall analytics for your overall account and on the last few emails you’ve sent. You have the audience tab where you can manage lists and segments. They have forms platform as well. They have an area for creating content like the drag and drop editor. And they even have an area for testing. They have an analytics platform. They also have the automation platform.

Let’s Talk Split Testing…

Tyler says you should always be A/B testing whether is subject line or content because it’s going to help you understand your subscribers better. You can ask them in the welcome series, but what do their actions tell you as well? In terms of open rates, test the subject line. In terms of content, there is a slew of items you can be testing that will help you drive your clicks with different layout options. It helps you optimize and make educated decisions based on what your tests tell you.

Thresholds for Tests…

If you have a list of 5000 contacts, then you can take around 20% of your list and still have a good test group. If you have less than 5000 contacts then Tyler recommends just splitting your audience in half. You would send version A to half and version B to the other half. That’s going to give you a good opportunity to have a more increased sample size. Your list size isn’t an excuse to do or not do A/B testing.

Split test every email so that you can see what is going on with your subscribers. You should be doing testing to find trends that will help you increase your engagements. What Tyler is saying we want to hit our audience so that they feel appreciated and they WANT to receive your email. Even if you aren’t using the A/B testing tools, you can still test things from a manual perspective by looking at your analytics and identifying what’s working and what’s not working.

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