In the first article of our two-part series on designing real-time email, I gave a few examples of real-time content, demonstrated why designers (and their companies) should want to use it, and presented tips to help choose the right real-time experiences. In case you missed it, you can read Part 1 here.

Now it’s time for Part 2. In this article, I’ll give you specific email design best practices and tips to help design memorable, engaging, and effective real-time email experiences. 

What should you consider when designing real-time email content?

I always tell designers that they should start the process in much the same way they would with a traditional static email. But this is just the starting point. From there, you should think about the entire user experience, which will include every touchpoint as a recipient opens your email, digests the real-time content, and then engages by clicking through to a landing page or interacting with your real-time elements. 

I also recommend that you get creative in the way you think about using advanced email experiences, and how you can use them to present personalized content in ways your audience might not expect (but will love when you get it right!)

For example, Discover used our LiveRender capability to personalize emails by embedding an animated graphic that showed recipients their exact mileage balance and how much they would gain with a special matching promotion.

In this case, the design became a win-win: Consumers loved the experience, and Discover increased click-through rates by 46%.

One quick note: The Discover email is just one example of well-designed real-time content. To see many more—in all phases of the customer lifecycle—download our LookBook today.

Other creative approaches

Real-time email content can accommodate branding styles and approaches that aren’t typically seen in traditional emails. This means that designing these kinds of emails may give you the chance to have fun and be a little more creative.  I’ve found that real-time emails usually go hand-in-hand with the most innovative (dare I say cool), design work.

Liveclicker’s RealTime Email platform can even accommodate your branding “must haves,” such as custom fonts, CSS formatting, branded images and animations, and other branding necessities that typically aren’t applied to dynamic content. 

Use video!

Also, if your company has video assets, flaunt them in email. Research from Campaign Monitor shows that including video in email can boost click-through rates up to 65%, and at the same time, it helps minimize the struggle to find or include new content.

With RealTime Email, video can play directly in the inbox, delighting your audience by giving them something they might not have expected to receive. So give video a try! Welcome emails are a great place to start, especially since you’ll impress your customers with your very first message.

Design responsively

It also helps to keep responsive design in mind. Remember that your audience will open your emails on a wide range of screens. So take a look at your email and its landing pages on mobile, tablet, and desktop. Generally speaking, it helps to know what specific device the majority of the audience will be using.

Even beyond that, it’s good to know additional details such as operating system, email client, or if they’re using Web-mail such as Gmail to receive emails. 

Go Retina!

It’s also important to think about how your creative will look on higher-resolution screens. For the best results, I recommend using Retina images, a higher resolution that is twice as many pixels per inch (ppi) than the normal web 72 ppi. Even if the rest of the email doesn’t use such high resolution, you will still get the best results using Retina-quality images for your real-time content.

You probably know how to set up Retina images, but if not, here’s a quick tip. Make your image resolution 144 ppi instead of the normal 72 ppi. If you’re entering this information in Liveclicker’s RealTime Email platform, enter height and width dimensions that are half the height and width of the retina image(s). 

Simplify content and present it in new ways

Don’t you hate it when the marketing team wants to force too much content into your elegant design? You can use advanced email experiences in creative ways to deliver this content in a more efficient space and help you stay in control of your design. These include LiveSlides, LiveVideo, LiveImage, and more.

Thoughts on testing

You should also think about quantifying your real-time email results by testing them against a static email. This will help you understand what works and what doesn’t and help you develop innovative new ideas to improve future emails with real-time email content.

You can even test your campaign within our RealTime Email platform. Our Adaptive Testing capability lets you automatically roll out a winning test as determined by statistical significance. This makes sure the winning creative is launched effectively, without having to wait extra time to manually deploy this version as a future campaign.

Don’t forget the versioning

Finally, remember that some experiences require creative assets for different states—for example, for LiveHover you’ll need to think about the cover state, hover state, animation fallback and create images for all.

I hope these tips are helpful as you continue to design innovative emails that connect and engage consumers in new ways. If I can answer any questions, please feel free to contact me. And don’t forget: for even more real examples of well designed email campaigns, download our LookBook now!

Summer months represent the peak season for companies in the travel and hospitality industries, especially as so many of us travel, take vacations, rent a car, and (hopefully) get the chance to unwind.

Yet marketing teams in these industries realize that the traditional holiday season also represents a significant opportunity to help them increase their “heads-in-beds” and other utilization metrics, and ultimately, maximize revenues. 

So if you’re looking for a little inspiration, or an idea to turbocharge your marketing efforts this year, here are some proven holiday email marketing tips, tricks, and best practices from two of the world’s leading travel and hospitality brands: Celebrity Cruises and Hertz. 

Celebrity Cruises increases revenues by 3X with email personalization

Celebrity Cruises recently needed a new approach to its standard emails in order to increase click-through rates, engagement metrics, and generate higher revenues. The brand also hoped to move away from using too many promotion-based emails—a standard approach in the industry—to further maximize profitability.

Celebrity Cruises partnered with Liveclicker to design and deploy highly personalized, highly engaging email campaigns for loyal guests, one of the company’s most profitable segments. The objective was to use each customers’ data in creative ways to relive their past experience or their overall journey as a loyal guest.

The emails accomplished this goal—and so much more.

For example, using innovative real-time personalization strategies, Celebrity Cruises’ marketing team came up with fun new ways to display significant milestones in each guest’s sail history. For example, different emails featured personalized content to highlight key details such as:

By all accounts, the entire campaign was a success. Celebrity Cruise developed engaging emails its customers loved, and in doing so, generated revenues three times higher than its standard “business-as-usual” emails. 

Holiday marketing tip: Use customer information to personalize holiday email marketing campaigns in ways your audience may not expect. You’ll foster long-term relationships and create a first-class experience that is bound to pay off!

Hertz creates an engaging new experience

Hertz needed a better approach for its reservation confirmation emails. Specifically, the company was looking to delight its customers by providing as much helpful information into these emails as possible.

In working with Liveclicker, the Hertz marketing team realized that it could display maps and clickable directions that would help its customers find their specific rental locations to pick up their cars.

Hertz used an API link to a native map application to successfully automate the process of adding and updating maps on a regular basis. This new capability enabled Hertz to create dynamic reservation confirmation emails that included a map and detailed directions to the exact location. 

Additionally, to provide more information and deliver an even better experience, Hertz also incorporated weather details, forecasts, and local activities to help customers plan ahead. The brand even created a specific poll to ask interactive questions for follow-up emails. This capability helped Hertz quickly gather valuable feedback about customers’ rental experiences.

In addition, Hertz used Liveclicker’s LivePoll feature to ask interactive questions in follow-up emails. This capability helped the rental car companies quickly gather valuable feedback about customers’ rental experiences. 

These emails exceeded expectations. Not only did they increase click-through rates and reduce production times, but they generated impressive customer response.

Holiday marketing tip: Leave no stone unturned in your search to find new ways to communicate with customers and deliver engaging new experiences. Reservation confirmations and even order-tracking emails can now be used to communicate valuable information and continue to market your products or services.

All the holiday inspiration you need, all in one ebook

Looking for even more holiday email marketing ideas, you can download our new guide, “9 Solutions (With Real-Life Examples!) to Retailers’ Biggest Headaches,” now!

Despite its place as one of the most developed and mature digital marketing channels, email continues to evolve. And like any other technology that grows and changes over time, it’s important that designers adapt to continue providing compelling, competitive experiences.

Today’s designers have many options available that were once considered all but impossible: fully-embedded video in email, web UX functionality like rotating carousels, dynamic elements that adapt to users’ context at the time of open, and more.

The rise of real-time email is redefining best practices and creative capabilities for designers. It’s time for us to catch up and adapt!

So What is Real-Time Content?

The concept of real-time email content is a broad term that encompasses a variety of different (but related) pieces. But as far as designers are concerned, there are a few specific things you can look for and consider using yourself:

What Real-Time Content Does for Designers

It’s better to see this deluge of new real-time email capabilities not as an obstacle to beat or a problem to solve, but as an opportunity to revolutionize and update an ageing medium. The reality is that these design elements are a godsend for designers, who long have had to fight with email’s technical limitations and its slow-to-evolve clients. Just a few of the advantages of real-time email content for designers:

Get Inspired: Where to Find Your Real-Time Muse

Sometimes it’s hard to visualize the possibilities of real-time content or understand the use cases of a particular element until you actually see it in action. If you’re in need of some real-time inspiration, I recommend starting with these resources:

How to Choose the Right Real-Time Experiences

Email marketers have a long menu of powerful real-time experiences and personalization elements to choose from. Some will be more effective than others at accomplishing certain goals.

Never Stop Learning

In a dynamic profession like digital marketing, designers can’t afford to get complacent. Never stop trying new things and pushing your creative boundaries!

Stay tuned for part two of our ‘Designing for Real-Time Email’ series where I’ll explore some of the details and technical considerations when approaching the next generation of email design.

We hope you’ve been enjoying our articles on holiday-related email marketing ideas, and that each one gives you valuable ideas you can use in your ongoing email marketing efforts. We enjoy providing specific tips and real-world examples, so stay tuned for additional updates, or you can always download our Holiday Email Personalization LookBook for more illustrated examples all in one place.

It’s time to focus on the next big holiday coming up: Father’s Day Email Marketing (June 16 for 2019).

By some measures, Father’s Day isn’t as big as it could be. According to research from the National Retail Federation, Americans spent a total of $23.1 billion on Mother’s Day in 2018. Yet for Father’s Day, that figure reached just $15.3 billion. Similarly, NRF found that where 86% of Americans celebrate Mother’s Day, only 77% do the same for Father’s Day.

To help make a bigger splash for Dad this year, here are 15 ways you can use advanced real-time personalization experiences in your Father’s Day email marketing campaigns this year (or for any holiday)!

15 Tips for Using Real-Time Personalization in Father’s Day Campaigns

  1. Use a timer to count down to the big day. Actually, there are two recommendations here: First, you can use a timer to show exactly how much time is left before Father’s Day, or, you can be a little more creative by counting down to a special sale. Both create urgency and encourage shopping.
  2. Put important dates on the calendar. Similarly, you can use a calendar function to put a Father’s Day event on an official calendar or call attention to the final deadline when someone can buy a gift and still receive it in time. Make sure you include critical information and links directly in the meeting invite.
  3. Include shipping details in the email itself. Now, marketers can add tracking information directly with a order-confirmation email. This saves time and doesn’t require recipients to visit third-party shipping sites for that information. They’ll be impressed…and more likely to buy more!
  4. Engage them in a new way—a fun poll: Come up with a fun, creative way to ask a poll question. (Maybe“What type of gift don’t Dads like to get?”) Recipients can see the total responses in the email itself, or you can encourage them to visit a dedicated landing page complete with gifts any Dad would love.
  5. Get social. Personalize emails with images and updates from your company’s social media sites. For example, pull in images from last year’s Father’s Day celebrations or other events.
  6. Use real images to show great gift options. Offer website images based on their past interests and behaviors to make purchase decisions a no brainer.
  7. Combine images with personalization. Consider adding their first name or other personalization to become part of the image. It will definitely catch their attention and increase your credibility and allure.
  8. Use images with time-based targeting. This may take a creative approach but dream up an email campaign with different offers that expire, but only to reveal other attractive offer. For example, a restaurant could display different promotions related to Father’s Day breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and have the email dynamically change to show the most appropriate offer based on the time.
  9. Use images in creative new ways. If you have the data, you could offer gift recommendations from a wife, the kids, or anyone else in Dad’s life. Get creative!
  10. Reveal something special. Use our LiveReveal capability to build excitement around a special offer, discount or promotion. These emails always encourage action, whether recipients should scratch off an offer, open a gift, or click a spinning wheel. They’ll love the experience—and the ultimate “prize.”
  11. Animate your email! Use images as animated gifs to create interest and engagement.
  12. Take it up a notch with video.The idea of adding video in email still has a tough reputation—many marketers think it’s harder than it actually is—but embedding videos can make your email shine.
  13. Use slides to show range of products he may be interested in. Golf clubs, clothes, tools, sunglasses—all will look better in a dynamic slideshow view.
  14. Map it! You can use geo targeting to create a map to your store or special Father’s Day destination.
  15. Offer real-time information. If appealing, scrape real-time information off of your website, including updating pricing information or special promotions, and serve it all up in a personalized, meaningful way.

Finally, become an email personalization ninja by combining many of these real-time advanced email experiences into one campaign or customer experience. You’re bound to create memorable, engaging, simply-can’t-resist types of email experiences any father will appreciate.

Now that it’s officially May, it means another holiday is right around the corner: Mother’s Day!

This is a big event for moms–and for marketers. 84% of US adults are expected to celebrate the event this year, and overall spending related to the holiday is forecasted to reach nearly $25 billion dollars!

Mother’s Day (May 12) is coming up fast, but it’s not too late to create and send engaging email campaigns that will connect with your audience in meaningful new ways (and encourage them to shop with your brand).

(P.S. Now is also a good time to think about what you’re doing for your own Mother’s Day celebrations!)

Marks & Spencer uses personalization in helpful new ways

Marks & Spencer recently achieved exactly this type of success with its Mother’s Day marketing efforts. Instead of ignoring the fact that valuable shopping days were slipping by, the U.K. retailer embraced this inevitability by creating a countdown timer to show consumers exactly how much time was left before this important event.

It was a smart strategy. Like any other holiday, Mother’s Day tends to sneak up on shoppers, or they may procrastinate, thinking that they have more time than they actually do. In this case, Marks & Spencer’s countdown timer was perceived as a helpful tool—not just another sales email—since no one wants to disappoint Mom on her one special day of the year. In other words; thank you, Marks & Spencer!

In one email, Marks & Spencer overlaid its countdown timer over an image of stunning floral arrangements. The headline encouraged recipients to “spoil Mum with beautiful blooms,” and also included a prominent special offer of a free delivery of her bouquet in time for Mother’s Day. While the free delivery offer wasn’t tied to the countdown timer, the message to act was clear. Who could resist?

In a second email, the retailer used a timer in conjunction with an offer that would quickly expire. In this case, the email included a special promotion where shoppers would receive free chocolates with the purchase of a Mother’s Day bouquet. The countdown clock showed recipients just how much time they had to act, a powerful real-time personalization that helped increase basket size and generate new sales.

The personalization didn’t stop there. By clicking into either email, consumers experienced a Marks and Spencer landing page with even more Mother’s Day promotions, including discounts on brunch ingredients, wine, chocolate, flowers, and more.

Each offer was accompanied by a call to action button that invited readers to find the closest Marks & Spencer shop. These links used Liveclicker’s LiveMap real-time email experience to incorporate geo-targeting map information specific to each consumer. Again, the entire experience provided information consumers found helpful, while still encouraging them to take the desired action.

Don’t stop there!

Using countdown timers and maps are just two examples of how you can create engaging, personalized emails this Mother’s Day. Stay tuned for our second article in this series where we will provide even more examples of real-time personalization that you can use for Mother’s Day email campaigns.

Also, this is the latest article in our ongoing series of holiday-related tips, tricks, and other email marketing best practices. Yet there’s another way to get them all, all in one place. Download our LookBook guide for real-world examples of how leading brands achieved impressive results for any holiday—and every other point in the customer lifecycle.

As an allergy sufferer, sometimes I think we should change the saying, “April showers bring May flowers,” to “April showers bring … a whole lot of pollen.”

Okay, I realize my version doesn’t rhyme, or even have the right number of syllables, so it will never replace the original. Yet, pollen is still a real part of spring, and an inevitability that millions of people with allergies are very aware of—and dread—each year.

For innovative email marketers, pollen doesn’t have to be bad news. Instead, with a little creative thinking, you can use this annual event as a new way to create personalized campaigns that connect with consumers in ways they may not expect.

Even better, using pollen counts can be an effective approach for a wider variety of industries and brands that you might at first think. So even if your company doesn’t sell allergy medicine—or even anything for the outdoors—you can still use weather conditions to your advantage.

LG turns pollen counts into a marketing advantage

Leading electronics and appliances retailer LG recently came up with a great way to incorporate pollen counts into its email campaigns.

In this case, LG used Liveclicker’s LiveForecast advanced email experience to personalize emails with five-day forecasts of expected pollen counts in the recipient’s city or region. More, these forecasts were displayed with color coding and a custom graphic, both of which would quickly catch a reader’s attention. For example, on the worst days, the graphic would include a red bar with the words, “Pollen level: Very high,” while the custom graphic displayed more pollen than other days.

The entire creative was set against a backdrop of a blooming cherry tree just beginning to shed its early flowers (just looking at it makes my eyes water) and displayed an industry seal to demonstrate that LG’s products are officially certified to be asthma and allergy friendly.

Why would an appliance and electronics company like LG create this type of email, especially considering it sells products designed for indoor use?

It turns out they had a very good reason. LG created this real-time personalization experience to promote its line of washing machines, air purifiers, and other LG products that could help reduce pollen and other common household allergens.

This innovative email approach led to a new way to connect with consumers, “warn” them that they could be facing an upcoming pollen problem, and then demonstrate just how LG products could help them overcome these potential  issues. Clever…and very effective!

Additional uses for pollen counts

On one hand, personalizing emails with pollen counts and other weather conditions may seem too specific, or not an approach every company can use. Yet creative marketing teams in a wide variety of industries can use this real-time information as an effective marketing tool.

Some other powerful use cases:

As you can see from the LG example and the suggestions above, there are many different ways to use pollen and weather forecasts in your email marketing campaigns. Don’t forget, you can use these forecasts in either situation—when pollen is high or low—giving you a rare win-win opportunity.

As an email marketer, you know how important it is to use real-time personalization to create engaging, effective email experiences. Yet the bar is constantly being raised, especially as your competition catches on.

This means you need to be more creative in your email personalization strategies and constantly consider innovative new approaches. (For example, who could have guessed that weather conditions could be used to create great marketing emails and even solve specific business challenges?)

Less clicking = more connecting

Now you can improve personalization—and stand apart in the inbox—by embedding customers’ order tracking information right in your order confirmation email.

According to Narvar’s Consumer Report 2017, Bots, Text, and Voice: What Cuts through the Clutterreport, 73% of consumers ranked order tracking as one of the most important messages they receive from retailers. That’s why we developed LiveTracker to give retailers and e-commerce companies a way to give their customers the experience they crave.

LiveTracker enables customers to track an order directly within a confirmation email or landing page. Unlike past approaches that added tracking links that took recipients away from your email (and usually to a third-party shipping site), embedded order tracking now lets you present a complete view of all the information customers need, all in your email.

This creates an engaging, helpful email experience your customers will appreciate. Just as importantly, it keeps them in your email longer and gives them a reason to open it again and again. That means marketers have more opportunities to cross-sell/upsell, solicit further engagement, and drive traffic to relevant content.

Leading brands experiencing success with LiveTracker

Many leading brands are already taking advantage of LiveTracker capabilities to add complete shipping details within their emails or custom landing pages.

Follow the LEGO bricks to … your order

For example, LEGO’s order confirmation email built excitement by letting customers know their order was on its way, and included their specific tracking number and the scheduled delivery date.

LEGO’s marketing team even had a little fun by creating a custom graphic that used LEGO’s iconic bricks in a new way to show the progress of the overall shipment. The email even included complete live package tracking details from the shipping provider, so recipients could see exactly where their order was.

BistroMD surprises and delights its audience

BistroMD also used LiveTracker to create highly personalized emails through the use of order-tracking information. The BistroMD campaign quickly caught the reader’s eye with a prominent headline that let them know their order had shipped.

From there, the email creative used first name personalization and served up everything the customer would want to know, including product order information, order-tracking details, and a custom graphic to show progress of the shipment.

Get on track for personalization success with LiveTracker

Email marketers have to do all they can to stay a step ahead of the competition and focus on connecting with customers in new and meaningful ways. This means they need to be as creative as possible with real-time personalization tools and strategies.

Embedding order tracking information in emails is a proven way to deliver more engaging customer experiences—and one that encourages consumers to continue to buy your products and services.

Feeling inspired by these awesome examples? Find even more ways to incorporate real-time personalization into your emails with our latest ebook, Automating Personalization: 5 Ways to Scale Relevance in Your Email Marketing.

It’s time for digital marketers to reconsider the humble coupon. This venerable marketing tool has drawn price-sensitive customers to businesses for decades. But too often, it gets overlooked and lost in the constant flood of shiny new tactics emerging from the world of digital.

In fact, if you know how to use coupons (and their close cousins, promo codes), they can be incredibly effective in driving conversions online, especially when distributed via email.

Emails with promo codes boast 14% higher open rates, 34% higher click rates, and 48% higher revenues than emails without them.

Statista reports consistent growth in digital coupon users over recent years, and predicts 145.3 million U.S. adults will be redeeming them by 2021.

Deal-seekers certainly don’t feel limited to clipping coupons exclusively from their weekly shopper. According to research from VoucherCloud, the enormous majority are willing to use digital coupons, too.

The Unique Advantages of Digital Coupons in Email

Emails already see widespread use as promotional vehicles for sales events and discounts. So why bother setting up a email coupon system?

Digital coupons bring unique benefits to marketers and and customers alike:

How to Use Coupons in Email (The Easy Way)

Digital coupons have myriad uses and enormous potential; so why aren’t more marketers using them in email?

Once the appropriate systems and support are set up, it’s easy enough to start acting on your coupon marketing ideas. But the upfront resources, time, and expertise needed to establish and maintain such a program are enough to dissuade many marketers from taking the dive.

Then there’s the tedious matter of setting up audiences, dividing up lists, and developing a different email for each segment and test. As Liveclicker VP Account Development Kenna Hillburn said, “Email marketers already have enough on their plates without having to manually segment and create several different deployment sends in order to serve certain coupon codes to certain individuals and find out what works.”

That’s part of what drove Liveclicker to develop our latest email marketing innovation: LiveCoupon. This flexible new element empowers marketers to generate unique, irresistible, personalized coupons that populate effortlessly in subscribers’ inboxes. The simple, user-friendly interface means anyone can start improving email performance with coupons.

With LiveCoupon, you can:

Leading brands are already using LiveCoupon and getting results.

“LiveCoupon enhances our ability to continue delivering personalized messages and incentives to consumers.” said Jennifer Chiang, Sr. Analyst, Email Marketing, BCBG. “LiveCoupon reduces operational complexity for such campaigns by automating the messaging of the promotions based on consumers’ previous engagement (with the same promotion). This further helps us with customer segmentation, making our program more relevant and effective.”

What creative coupon marketing ideas would you be able to pursue with this capability?