Roundup of April Fool’s Day Roundups #lazyblogging #phoningitin

Yesterday I woke up to two funny April fool’s emails – Uber NYC’s “Uber Lions” and Fresh Direct’s “Cheese Cleanse.” For a brief moment, I thought that the day had finally come where I’d go back to writing this blog as I intended – you know, actually writing about email instead of all my recent career choices, and being extra snarky. I was hoping I’d feel inspired as more emails hit my inbox.

It’s not that time yet. It will be soon though. Probably. I just started my new job last week, and I’m already doing some business traveling next week, but when things calm down, I’ll write about email again.

I also didn’t think it made sense for me to do an email roundup since everyone else was also doing them, and they were doing a better job of it than I might. Sadly, I didn’t actually end up receiving as many fun April Fool’s day emails as I would have liked. Brands played it safe (and boring) this year. They’re ~not fooling~. I guess they missed last year’s article from Litmus about how this is the most cliched thing a brand can do for April Fools.

zzz

From what I’ve gathered, people loved the UberLions and Bonobos emails (because who doesn’t love being told cute animals are imminent?), were kind of pissed off about the West Elm email (with a fake shipping confirmation for your “Future” savings – people who had been victims of identity theft really didn’t find that one funny), and giggled over Boden’s “Naked person on a dress recall” email. I’m sure there were more emails that were noteworthy, but I wasn’t paying attention.

Luckily, other people were. Here are a few roundups of brands that actually tried this year, by content publishers who are doing a much better job than I have been at blogging.

Help.com (Shoutout to my friend Kayla who wrote this post!)

Email Marketing Rules

Only Influencers

AlchemyWorx Pinterest April Fools Lookbook

Internet Retailer

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Q&A with me about my Intro to Email Marketing Class

Samantha Iodice, another email marketer, interviewed me about my Intro to Email Marketing class for her blog, in which I talk about why I’m teaching the class, why email marketers are a little masochistic, and cookies. Naturally.

One of the greatest things about participating in the Email Marketing community is realizing it’s a small, tight-knit group. What’s wonderful about this aspect is that when you get to know the members of this community, you build friendships, bonds, partnerships, allies, and feel supported, even when the chips may be down. It’s like a digital family that fights like family and makes up at the end of the day too. It’s pretty cool and I’m proud to be a part of this digital family.

As a contributing member, as well as a strong supporter of Email Snarketing’s Kristin Bond, I have some fantastic news to share of her upcoming courses. But, along with the courses, I asked Kristin a few questions on why she was doing the courses and her passion for Email Marketing. First, here’s some details on her course, “Intro to Email Marketing” on Tuesday, March 3rd OR Thursday, April 2nd in NYC.

Keep reading »

On my honor, I will try…

After a very much needed almost 3 month hiatus, I’m happy to announce that I’ve accepted a full-time job at Girl Scouts of the USA as their Senior Email Marketing Specialist. I’ll be spending my time helping to standardize their email programs across 112 councils all over the country, writing documentation, educating marketing teams about email best practices, and being their go-to person for my favorite ESP.  While it’s obviously very much still in the email world, it’s taking a step away from mass producing emails every day, and it’s exactly what I want to be doing. I start next month, and I’m extremely excited about it! In all of the years that I’ve worked in marketing in various industries, I’ve learned that I’m much happier when I’m marketing a product or service that I genuinely believe in and care about. While that’s not possible for every job and every company, I’ve found that it’s something I need to be successful and happy in a job. That’s why I’m absolutely positive that this is the perfect fit for me. GS VestsI’ve been involved with Girl Scouts since I was 5. I started Daisies when I was in pre-school, then I continued through Brownies and Juniors over the next 7 years. I remember making a point to sell 350 boxes of cookies one year so that I could go to a 13-day horseback riding camp for free. I loved being a Girl Scout. My mom was our troop leader, and most of my happy memories from when I was that age have to do with Girl Scouts. In the summers when I was a kid, I’d spend hours reading and re-reading my Girl Scout handbook, looking for fun craft projects to do and badges to work on. Twenty years and a bazillion moves later, I still have both of my uniform vests. In the last few years, living in NYC and not knowing any girls here, my involvement had been reduced to buying a lot of cookies (often online, pre-Digital Cookie, from friends in other states who have kids) and liking and sharing social media content. And, of course, being a Girl Scout cookie bakery hipster (according to my brother. I prefer “expert.”). Anyway, I’m really excited that my job is going to be with an organization that’s very near and dear to me. Plus, you know, there will be cookies. If you haven’t heard about it yet, Girl Scouts are making great strides in advancing their programming along with technology. With the recently launched Digital Cookie program, girls can create their own websites to sell cookies, allow customers to pay with a credit card, and sell cookies via an app. After working in techy startups the last few years, and seeing how underrepresented women are in the tech world – I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to have the opportunity to contribute to a program that will get girls interested in tech and digital marketing at an early age. troop3508 I’ll start the job in late March. I’ll be spending the next few weeks wrapping up some freelance projects, going on a vacation with good friends, shopping for professional clothes, and trying to teach myself how to organize an Outlook email account at the same level of OCD that I take with my Gmail accounts. (Any tips on that, pretty please? I haven’t used Outlook in a while.) The break that I’ve taken the last few months was an excellent choice for me. I knew I was burnt out and needed to take some time off, but I didn’t know just how badly I needed it until a few weeks in, when I was finally able to stop feeling guilty when I felt like spending an afternoon relaxing instead of trying to figure out my next professional move. But it also helped me realize that I actually really do enjoy working. I get more satisfaction out of doing something productive than watching five seasons of Friends on Netflix (but I’ve also learned to accept that it’s okay to sometimes count finishing a season of a show or clearing out a Tivo queue as “productive”). Re-charging is important and necessary in order to continue to do actual work, and sometimes we all need to take a moment and acknowledge that. I’m so happy that I’ve found a work environment that offers the level of balance that’s been missing from my professional life for a while and projects that I can’t wait to dive into. It’s been fun hibernating this winter, but now I’m refreshed, relaxed, and completely ready to go back to work full-time… in a few weeks.

My history with a certain ESP: A love story

Since Valentine’s day is this week, and I couldn’t bear to dig through all my emails from flower companies and write about them (but if you’re desperate to read about flower emails, you can read my Mother’s day posts here and here), I decided that I’d instead write about the most important relationship every email marketer has: their relationship with their ESP. More specifically, my long-term relationship with a certain ESP.

We first formally met when I was working in a boring corporate job. My office was in the same building as his. I saw him on the elevator, embodied by a different cool person every day, wearing his jeans and texting on his iPhone (in 2008, before everyone had them), while I was in my boring business casual with my Blackberry Pearl, thinking about how to write creatively about the recession for the millionth time that week. He seemed so happy, so bright, so… orange. I was intrigued.

We got to know each other, and started actually working together. He introduced me to a whole new world of careers I didn’t know existed. I went to his big annual party, which turned out to be a toooootal rager, even though I thought it would be a bunch of uncool corporate types. Who actually enjoys spending 3 days talking about nothing but email (apparently, a lot of people)? I was maybe just hoping to have a good reason to get away from the office for a few days. But after a few bright orange cocktails, a grey and black messenger bag filled with swag and autographed books, and tales of a cookie waiting in hotel rooms at the exact moment guests drunkenly arrived back from a free amazing They Might be Giants concert — let’s face it. I was hooked.

I left the corporate job, moved to a big city on the east coast, and our relationship became off-again, on-again. I was wearing my bag from the rager over my shoulder outside of a Starbucks in Manhattan, when a stranger with an alliterative name asked me if I worked there. I told him no, but I would like to someday. I was thrilled that I was passing off as one of them. He actually did work there, and was visiting from an office in another country.

Over the next few years, I spent time with others, but always went back to him, my quirky, strong, bright orange, ESP. He decided to go public, and when I bought a few shares of his stock, people close to me were concerned it might be considered insider trading since I talked about him so much, not realizing that I wasn’t actually with him in that way.

I ended up making major life decisions around when I would get to see him, and be with him. After spending a year at a job that worked with another ESP, I switched jobs as soon as I had the chance to go back to him. My actual wedding and honeymoon were at the same time as his annual week-long rager one year (and the wedding was even in the same city), and for a brief moment, I considered postponing the honeymoon to be with him – but only for a moment. There would be other ragers, after all. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t shed a tear at the airport on Monday morning on my way to my honeymoon, as I saw the orange shuttle bus pull up to take people to the party. If only I had known his days were numbered, and this would be one of the last few.

And sure, when I told people about how much I loved him, and why – there were skeptics. He’s not perfect after all. People I worked with mocked my devotion, and threatened to start seeing other ESPs, but I knew nothing could rock what we had. I’m in it for the long haul. It wasn’t always easy to love him. Nobody’s perfect. And even if he had his flaws, I knew him so well that I didn’t even care, and just worked my way around them. And I only called him up to complain about his flaws to his face a few times. 

But eventually, as what happens with most people and their ESPs, I woke up one morning, and suddenly, everything was different. He had some work done to his appearance, and was running with a new crowd, and going by a different name.  He had changed. I know that even with all these changes, he’s still the same ESP I’ve loved all these years. I know that plenty of others have a crush on him too. That’s okay. I know what we had together, and he has plenty of love to go around. And I don’t think our story is over, even if things are a becoming a little too…cloudy. We can weather this storm, and shine bright orange again someday. 

The care and keeping of your email marketing manager

I’ve been “fun-employed” (by choice, THANKYOUVERYMUCH) for about six weeks now.  And honestly – I don’t hate it. This has been the first time since college that I’ve actually been able to enjoy more than a week off without having to worry about checking work emails and if everything was running smoothly without me. (Okay, full disclosure – I thought about that last part a little at first. But the great thing is, I could remind myself that it wasn’t really my problem anymore, and that things were probably just fine, because my replacements were fully capable and trained really well).

Since my last post, I’ve had quite a few people reach out to me about job opportunities. Normally, on any given week, when I haven’t just made a big announcement that I’m on the market for new opportunities, I get at least 3-4 LinkedIn requests from recruiters about email jobs. But there have been quite a few more lately. Almost all have been for full-time roles, and several are for email marketing manager roles that I “would be perfect for!!!” — because they’re exactly what I’ve been doing for the last few years.

I’ve talked to my email friends who have the same experience level as I do, and this is pretty common. A lot of us have been doing email marketing for about 7-10 years, and we’ve been in email producing roles where we’re the only one in our company working on email. We get very good at it because we have to – there’s no one else to do it, and no one else in our company has any experience with email. Our jobs are very demanding, and come with a very special degree of stress and anxiety. Because of this, we get burnt out really easily, and some of us end up switching jobs every year (or even more frequently than that in some cases). Recruiters lure us away with a cooler startup, more money, or the promise of change. This job will be different – we’re looking for someone who can take our email program to the next level, and you’re perfect for it. We work hard, but we play hard too. We have unlimited vacation as long as you get your work done! (LOL) It’s fun to work for us – we have a ping-pong table! (I’ve heard all of these lines more times than I can count.)

The thing is – we’re really not doing all this job hopping just because we’re entitled millennials. It’s because a lot of these email marketing manager roles are set up for failure from the start, and honestly – we have options. A lot of email marketing managers, especially at startups, are entering roles where they’re the first person to build the email program, and have to deal with not only the workload of building an email program, but also educating the team about IP warming, welcome emails, and why you shouldn’t build that email as one large jpeg. While this can be an exciting challenge, it can be a very exhausting uphill battle.

After I interviewed for (and declined) an email marketing manager job recently, the HR person asked me for feedback about how they should structure the role. I told her that in my experience, especially for companies with high frequency sends, it’s ideal to have at least two people on the email team – one focusing on planning, strategy, reporting, and operations, and one to actually execute and produce the emails. That way, there’s always a back-up person to help out with the crazy weeks, and the strategy side actually happens. The last two email teams I’ve been on started out as just me, and were structured that way by the time I left. Anyone looking to start an email marketing program at your company – PLEASE keep this in mind. If you don’t have the budget to hire two people, please read the next paragraph.

There’s a project management concept that’s illustrated with a triple Venn diagram with three words on it: Fast, Cheap, Good. The idea is that it’s nearly impossible to have all three of those in any given project, so you have to decide which two you want:

I think something similar could be applied to an email marketer’s workload, only replacing Cheap with “A lot of emails.” If you want a lot of emails, and fast – they may not be very good. If you want emails fast and good – you’re probably not sending very many of them. If you want a lot of good emails – it’s going to take some time. I’ve been in a position at several jobs where I’ve been pressured to do all three, and “Good” was always the first one to go. Not a situation I ever want to experience again. If you want all three of these – build a team.

If employers want their email marketing manager to stick around, they need to be realistic about workloads and expectations. Email Marketing is a VERY small world. I don’t know the most tactful way to put this, but – we know that we have a rare, desirable skill set, and it is easy for us to walk away from bad situations. Many of us have recruiters knocking down our doors. We know that our work can generate significant revenue and site traffic. If you want to keep your email marketer – let him or her build a team. Or at least, train other people in the company to help out with email so vacations can actually happen. Email marketers spend a lot of time thinking about how to retain subscribers, and it’s time for their companies to think about retaining email marketers.

Email marketer anxiety (or how I learned to stop worrying and just send the emails)

Hi.

I did that thing that happened with my other blog a few years ago. I had one post that got a ton of traction right around the time I started a new job, then got too busy with learning the new job to keep writing my blog with any regularity (or in this case – at all). Then there’s also my personal project –  every summer I try to do something that I call “Unplugged Summer,” where I turn off my computer for the weekend and do crafts, make jam, and cook, and it really cuts into writing time. I’ve been trying to make that more of a year-round thing, and for the past few months, that’s taken the form of an Etsy shop. I spent all of my weekends in September and October gluing glitter and sequins to shoes, and I totally love it.

Anyway, I’m back. I want to keep writing this blog. Really.

So why do I feel the need to unplug like this? Email is REALLY stressful and causes a lot of anxiety for people like me. I know pretty much everyone says their (non-email) job is really stressful. And everyone is probably right. But email is its own special breed. The moment an email goes out can cause a LOT of anxiety. Here’s how and why.

1. Email mistakes. So public.

In most jobs, if you make a small mistake, you can fix it pretty easily with few people knowing about it (unless you’re a politician or a celebrity). Even marketing jobs – tweets can be deleted, print materials can be re-printed. In email marketing – it’s very, very, easy to instantly share your mistake with your entire company – and thousands or millions of other people. And you can’t always fix it. You can’t un-send a mass email. Some ESPs have ways for you to update a broken link on the backend since they use redirects. Some ESPs even have the capability of pausing an email that’s started to send to allow you to edit the email before the full list receives it. (Thank you. You know who you are. <3)

Most marketing emails go through a pretty rigorous approval process. I’ve never sent an email that wasn’t reviewed – and approved – by at least 3 other people. But mistakes can still happen. And it feels SO TERRIBLE. Because at the end of the day, the person pressing send is ultimately responsible for what is being sent. We’re the last set of eyes that grazes that email before hundreds of thousands of other people do. Even if you’re a fantastic proofreader, mistakes still happen, because you’re often extremely rushed with last minute edits, and on a tight deadline, with pressure from management to get the email out quickly so your company can start making money from it.

And when you’re  a person who blogs about email and knows a lot of people in the email industry – there’s always that feeling that your professional peers are watching. I think the people who have this the worst are those who send marketing emails for ESPs and other email vendors. Email marketers can be judgmental about other emails (exhibit A). I’m friends with several of the people who send this kind of email, and I really feel for them every time they hit send. (Even though their emails are always beautiful and interesting).

How to deal with it: The only thing that helps calm down my anxiety about sending emails is to look at the open and click through rates of the email, and then think about how many people actually thoroughly read the entire thing, or actually click on that link. Compared to how many people actually received the email, and it’s really not that bad. Think about how many emails everyone receives on any given day – you should be so lucky to have ANYONE read and click on your entire email. Earlier in my career, I remember being really upset about a typo in the fine print at the bottom of the email. Then I realized that the only people who will read that are those looking for the unsubscribe button, and as long as that button’s working – who cares, right?
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I don’t mean to be blasé about it, but really – it’s an email. No one is going to die or get hurt because of a typo (probably). Even if people do notice it, chances are they’ll forget about it pretty quickly.

But even when a mistake is fixable or forgettable, it doesn’t stop that thick, pounding feeling I get in my throat a few minutes after an email goes out when my inbox starts filling up with emails with this subject line:

2. FWD: [subject line of the email I just sent]

When I receive an email like this from a co-worker (or worse, one with a FWD:FWD: at the beginning, meaning a customer forwarded it to a co-worker) within a few minutes of my big email going out, my heart starts pounding. There’s a huge lump in my throat and things start to get a little blurry. I have all of the physiological reactions of a panic attack. Multiply this by at least a million if I’ve recently made an email mistake.

There’s a 50/50 chance of what this email is going to say when I open it:

Option 1:

Hey Kristin, 

This email is so beautiful! Nice job! I want to buy all of the products in it! You are so utterly talented and deserve a huge raise and promotion! You are the queen of email.

Option 2:

Kristin.

That’s the wrong image, and the link goes to an old page, and why didn’t you catch that typo? You’re an idiot and I’d fire you immediately if I didn’t desperately need you here to send tomorrow’s emails. And the next day’s. Get your shit together and fix this right now. What are we even paying you to do? You are a disgrace, and every problem our company has and ever will have is directly your fault because of this one tiny mistake. 

Okay, so both of those are very exaggerated versions of what I’ve actually received — and yes, I’ve gotten variations of both, but that is exactly how I hear them in my head, and how I feel when they happen. When it’s Option 2, I usually receive several versions of this email from various people. So that’s fun.

[If you are the co-worker of an email marketer, and you see a mistake in an email that just went out: It’s okay to tell her, but realize it’s likely there’s nothing she can do to correct it. And that 7 other people have already pointed it out. If your friendly local email nerd looks like she’s about to cry a few minutes after the email went out, or she’s suddenly extremely snippy and mean when you try to talk to her when she’s pausing the email and trying to fix the mistake – chances are she knows about the mistake. Please be nice to her and go get her some chamomile tea. Or a shot.]

 

3. Gmail Chains and Final Sends

Gmail is wonderful, but it causes me to have an email-induced panic attack every. single. day. My company uses corporate gmail (YAY!). So did my previous company. For this, I am grateful, because Outlook is just the worst.

Before an email goes out, I’ll have an email chain going around internally with “[TEST] Subject line of the email I’m about to send” as the subject line. In this chain, we’re finalizing content for the email and getting approvals.

Because of Gmail’s conversation view (which I really, truly love), when the actual email goes out, it’s added to that chain because Gmail is smart and knows that even with the “[TEST]” at the beginning of the other one, it’s still the same email. It results in a split second panic attack where the Sender of Emails thinks that the ACTUAL email went out to customers with [TEST] at the beginning of the subject line.

The first time this happened to me was when I worked at Warby Parker. It was an email that had taken a long time to go through edits, and I ended up sending it out much later in the day than I had planned (around 5:30 PM). I was just about to head out to an email nerd meetup when the email arrived in my inbox, making my “TEST” chain bold and up at the top of my “Important and Unread” section. My heart started pounding. I got the huge throat lump. I looked at the header of the email and saw that it had been sent with the correct subject line, sans [TEST], but I still wasn’t convinced. I demanded to see the email on the screens of everyone sitting around me. Even once I was sure the email had gone out correctly, the throat lump and heart pounding remained for another 30 minutes. Luckily, the email meetup I was headed to was over drinks, and I had the right audience to commiserate with.

And even though I know that this will probably happen every day, and I know that I’m not going to send an email with [TEST] in the subject line to my whole list, there’s a split second moment of panic every single time an email goes out. Every day.

 

And yet, despite all this, I still really, really love email marketing.

The latest trend in email marketing

…is leaving your email marketing job. Or even leaving email entirely.

This past year, I’ve read emails and blog posts from a few well-known email marketers who have decided to leave their awesome jobs and take a break from email for a while. I’m currently in the middle of the Email Insiders Summit, and there’s definitely talk of lots of people switching companies or leaving their email jobs.

It’s not totally shocking news. As much as we all love email marketing, it does cause a lot of anxiety. It’s easy to get really burnt out, really quickly.

And that’s why I’m joining the ranks of people taking a break.

While I’ve loved email for my entire career (and still do very much),  it’s time for me to take a step away for a few weeks. At the end of the next week, I’m leaving my job at Food52 to do…something else. TBD.

So, why?

Lots of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with my current job. I never expected to fall into email marketing as a career. I went to college to be a stage manager for theatre. But I graduated in a very difficult job market, and took the first marketing coordinator job I could get. I learned that email marketing 1) existed and 2) was something I really wanted to do. So I did it. The first few years were in B2B, which certainly has its own challenges for email. But I fell madly in love with this new career option that combined copywriting, coding, creativity, psychology, and analytics. Then, after I moved to NYC a little over 4 years ago, I discovered the joy of B2C email marketing. Suddenly I could attach a real dollar amount of value that my work brought to my company, and that was really exciting – at first.

But that came with a cost. I was responsible for making sure that my emails made money. Online retail brands really depend on email for revenue, and I’ve had to send a lot more emails than I’ve ever wanted to send. As a consumer, I actually barely read promotional emails (but as an email marketer, I read ALL OF THEM).  I’d rather get fewer emails that were really, really good, than daily emails that weren’t. As an email marketer, that’s what I want to send. I think that’s what most email marketers want to send. The trouble is, email marketers work with other digital marketers. And product managers. And CMOs and CEOs who don’t understand email and think the “send” button is a magic bullet that prints money, and it can be pressed constantly.

For my last two jobs, I was hired to be the one person running email. While my background and interviews indicated that I was hired to do strategy and day-to-day email operations, in both cases, my role ended up being a very busy hybrid of producing emails, managing ESP transitions, educating co-workers about email, arguing with designers about whether emails should be built as images or hard coded, and figuring out that whole responsive design thing. There was no time for strategy or advancing myself as an email marketer. I couldn’t often leave for conferences (or vacation days…), because someone had to be there to send the emails, and I was the only person who knew how. Working at startups can be exciting, but in both jobs, I found myself in a position where I was both overwhelmed by the sheer volume of my work, and completely bored with it at the same time. Since there was no one who knew more about email than me to challenge me to do more, I wasn’t really growing as much as I wanted to – I was just trying to get everyone to a level where we could work on emails together.

In both jobs, however, I was able to build up email teams. I have taught several junior level people a ton about email, and they’re now self-sufficient email marketers who are capable of running email for high-volume  brands, (gasp!) without my help. I’ve educated a lot of designers about why we can’t just make an email one large image, and I’ve taught front-end developers how coding email is different than coding for the web. And I discovered I really like teaching people about email. In fact, I’m developing an Intro to Email class for General Assembly in NYC, and in January, I’m going to teach more people about email. Anyone who has met me at an email event or conference, or has worked with me in the last few years, or follows me on Twitter, knows that I get really excited when I talk about email.

When I left Warby Parker, the social media team put this up on their daily white board. My geeky ExactTarget fangirl behavior was a running joke in the office, and for good reason.

A proper goodbye and great honor from the @warbyparker social media team

A post shared by Kristin Bond (@kristinmbond) on

Like I mentioned above, there were other factors in my decision. I’ve lived in NYC about four and a half years, and – it’s exhausting. I had wanted to live here my entire life, and I really did love it – at first.  But startups have long hours. I have a long commute. Pair that with smart phones becoming a lot more common in the last few years, and I feel like I’m ALWAYS working (or at least on call).I never have time to actually enjoy living in the city. Many of my co-workers in recent years are exhilarated by this kind of life, and thrive on it. They love having a fast-paced, open office setting. To that, I’m going to have to quote Amy Poehler, “Good for you, not for me.”  In the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what kinds of work environments I thrive in, and it turns out, “fast-spaced scrappy start-up” isn’t one of them.

So what’s next?

The solution I came up with was to press “pause” for a little bit, and regroup. I’ve taken VERY little time off over the last few years, and my plan is to spend the next few weeks recharging and planning my next steps. I’m going to enjoy spending the holidays with my family and actually be fully present, without having to worry about whether an email is converting enough, or if the customers received their e-Gift cards. And then I’ll look for something else to do. I don’t want to jump into another startup that leaves me just as burnt out as the others, and find myself frustrated, exhausted, and wanting to leave after a few years or even a few months. I want to work with other people who are as passionate about email as I am, and who are better at email than I am.  I want to help other people become as passionate about email as I am, and I don’t want to resent my workload so much that I feel less passionate about email. For now, I’m going to focus on finding something that balances my passion for email with my need for work/life balance. I’m going to keep my options open. And I can’t wait.

Why Subtweetcat is better at marketing than most brands

It’s time to take a little break from retail emails. I wanted to write about a new newsletter I’ve recently started receiving. It’s so much more than a newsletter – I don’t even know where to begin.

Her name is Subtweetcat. She lives on Twitter. She is a cat who subtweets. She’s surprisingly good at social media – for a cat. My first introduction to Subtweetcat was about a year ago. She started following me on Twitter (THAT’S RIGHT, CAT. YOU FOLLOWED ME FIRST. DEAL WITH IT.), likely because of where I worked at the time. Subtweetcat is a social media genius. She has a very distinct brand voice, and she’s written an ebook about social media. 

Subtweetcat is one of the weirdest Twitter accounts I’ve ever seen. She’ll subtweet people all day long. She has managed to build a very engaged online community via Twitter, which few brands have done successfully. And she’s a CAT.

Here’s why she’s better at marketing than most brands:

1. Strong brand voice: Her voice is funny, and it’s consistent. Lots of CAPS LOCK. Lots of run-on sentences. (She is a cat after all – they don’t allow cats in most American schools). I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if she has some kind of formal style guide. She sticks to her “I’m a cat” persona, and even posts selfies (of cats). While her voice obviously wouldn’t work for every brand – it works amazingly well for her.

Her followers know specific things about her: She’s a lesbian. She hates Chipotle. She likes sushi and pizza. She doesn’t like Kale. She loves Warby Parker (more than Just Salad – right, CAT?). She’s a cat. She’s, um, really into 420. She has a questionable relationship with the Poncho app. The thing is – it doesn’t even matter what’s in her brand bible. Her fans know all these things about her. And they actively interact with her about all of her interests. Every post she makes gets tons of faves, retweets, and replies. Every single one. And the really amazing part – her fans just get it. They play along, and even speak to her in her brand voice. And she rewards them with faves and retweets.

Screen shot 2014-07-10 at 10.27.17 PM

2. Social Media Engagement: On that note – she has a serious cult following. She’s on Twitter pretty much all day. I honestly don’t even know if she ever does anything else. Her fans tweet things that they think she would like, and she often retweets or faves them within seconds. (At least, that happens with MY tweets, but I’m probably her most important follower.) This makes her fans feel special, and they keep coming back. Or they spend $10 on a 15 page ebook.

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Ahem. But anyway. 

3. Consistent messaging: An important aspect of marketing is consistent messaging. While Subtweetcat is pretty much on Twitter all day, a few things are certain: At 11:11 AM and PM, she’ll tweet “11:11 HUG A CAT.” At 4:20 PM, there will be a stream of tweets about pot. Sometime around midnight, she’ll tweet “GO TO BED.” Her fans have come to expect all this, and again – they play along. If she misses an 11:11, tons of people tweet at her about it. While 11:11 and 4:20 probably aren’t right for every brand, Subtweetcat’s consistent messaging and timing have given her followers expectations, and they look forward to these times to see what she’s going to do. How many other brands have something like that?

She also does this great thing when other brands mess up on social media. She’ll repeatedly tweet at them “Hire me to do your social media.” (Although, when US Airways had that incident with the pornographic picture on Twitter, she re-posted it so many times that I had to stay off Twitter for the rest of the workday. So thanks for that, CAT). At the end of her ebook, she included a hashtag about hiring her to do your social media, and it kind of became this whole big thing. It doesn’t stop there. She will make photoshopped images of a cat using the brand’s products. Or she’ll tweet the link to her ebook to a brand suggesting that they buy it. And then Subtweetcat’s cult will chime in, most likely amplifying whatever mistake the brand made, and showing their support for their favorite internet cat. But she doesn’t just interact with brands that make mistakes. She’s built relationships with several brands. The smart brands tweet back at her and become her friend.

Last week, she announced that she was going to start sending an email newsletter. So naturally, this tweet had to happen:

hireemailsnarketing

But it turns out – she doesn’t even need me. Her emails are perfectly on brand for her, and an on point extension of her Twitter persona. She encourages her subscribers to submit cat pictures for the newsletter via a hashtag. This gets people to 1) Generate her content for her and 2) Open the newsletter every day to see if their content got in. Brilliant. She’ll also post 5 tweets of the day, so again – everyone’s reading and clicking to see if they made it in the newsletter.

Once you sign up (here. It’s worth it.), this is the confirmation page:

Screen shot 2014-07-10 at 10.21.50 PM

She sends them at 11:11 every (weekday) morning, and the content and format are very consistent. And since she already built up an incredibly engaged audience via social media, my guess is that she has extremely high open and click rates.

The overarching lesson here is that good marketing is good marketing, no matter WHAT you’re marketing. If you’re doing it right, you can market just about anything.

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Subject Line Sunday: July 6

I know I keep going back and forth between Subject Line Saturday and Subject Line Sunday, but it’s honestly just going to be whenever I have time to write. I’ll get on a real schedule someday. But you’ll be happy to know I’ve reviewed every email in my promotions tab, and have a spreadsheet filled with things to write about. But first, some subject lines that caught my attention for all the wrong reasons, one that was really good, and one that is flawless.

 



1. NORDSTROM RACK – 7/3/14

Subject line:  It's On! CLEAR THE RACK is Here

Whoops. Don’t forget to send yourself a test email. And if you’re a retailer, you might want to double-check and make sure your subject line looks right in Gmail.

Speaking of weird characters…

2. MICHAEL KORS – 6/27/14

Subject line: Don’t Miss Out祐hop Our Summer SALE! 

Okay, I’m sure we can all figure out what happened here. According to Google Translate, the character between “Out” and “hop” means “Help.” The subject line was actually a secret cry for help targeted toward MK’s Japanese-speaking subscribers. It’s pretty obvious their subject line writer, who is likely Japanese, was kidnapped by Michael Kors to write subject lines, and this person is trying to escape.

3. GAP – 7/1/14

Subject line: What are you waiting for, ?

Personalization can be extremely effective for open rates. We all know that. But when the personalization doesn’t quite work, well… not so much. I don’t know if this was a mistake for everyone or just me. When I registered for emails using this address, I made my first name “ES,” so I’d at least expect to see that here. I didn’t get this email in my personal email account (and Gap should DEFINITELY know my name there), so I don’t know.  The lesson: If you’re going to personalize a subject line, spot check, scrub your list, and have a default name to use if it makes sense. Another option would be to pull a segment of subscribers who don’t have a first name filled in, and send them a different subject line altogether.

 

4. DILLARD’S – 6/28/14

Subject line: Add’I 30% off clearance today, 6/28/14

I’m just curious why they abbreviated “Add’l” here. The subject line wasn’t terribly long, and a few extra characters wouldn’t make or break anything. Or perhaps they just read this article about the ideal length for any piece of content on the internet according to SCIENCE. (Subject line ideal length: 28 – 39 characters. Dillard’s, you could have left out the date and spelled out “Additional.”)

 

5. STAPLES – 6/27/2014

Subject line: Dollar. Days! Dollar. Days!

I don’t even know what this was. My best guess is that they were trying to make it sound like some kind of chant, possibly tying it in with World Cup excitement. It was just really oddly punctuated. It got my attention though, so there’s that.

 

6.  KATE SPADE SATURDAY – 6/23/14

Subject line: Oops! We shrunk our satchel…

I liked this one. It’s a nice subtle reference to some great 90s kids movies, and it makes it pretty clear what they’re promoting – a smaller version of their satchel bag. And the “Oops!” at the beginning grabbed attention because everyone loves to see someone fail (and if you don’t, why are you reading this blog?), and made people want to see if they had made some mistake. Nice subject line!

And finally…

 

7. BANANA REPUBLIC – 6/29/2014

Subject line: You woke up like this. 

Flawless.

 

 

How to make a 4th of July email in 4 easy steps

Step 1: Timing

As with any holiday, it’s important to begin marketing about 4th of July immediately after the previous holiday. In this case, it’s Father’s Day. Otherwise, how else will everyone know how culturally relevant you are?

Step 2: Subject lines

Since you’re a clever brand that knows what people associate with Independence Day, it’s absolutely crucial that you use any (or all!) of the following words and phrases in your subject lines.

  • Made in the USA

  • ☆, ✰, or ☀
  • Star Spangled Sale
  • Star Spangled Savings
  • Star Spangled Coupon

  • Red, white and blue

  • Red, white and NEW (aren’t you clever?)

Step 3: Images

If you don’t have a gif of fireworks in your email, what are you thinking?!? Everyone loves gifs (pronounced the CORRECT way, with a hard G). Gifs can go in emails. HOW COOL. HOW ORIGINAL. HOW PATRIOTIC.

Americans also love a good artfully curated picnic table covered in red, white and blue items. We like to have cookouts on summer holidays (HECK YEAH WE DO!), and everything on our tables must be color-coordinated to match the holiday we’re celebrating.

Some of us even go so far as to dump out our purses filled with expensive patriotic items all over the table so that everyone else at the cookout can see how much more patriotic we are than everyone else.

  Step 4: Unless you’re Bonobos, just go home and try again next year. ‘Murica.

Happy 4th of July!