Okay, here’s one for you. I have found myself of late commenting during editing rounds for several different campaigns, products, and email series about the overuse of a strict design template. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for brand consistency in terms of logo placement, color palettes, image styles, and usability style sheets (e.g. links always being underlined and the same color, initial-capping sub-heads, and the like). And to reuse templates for the sake of campaign consistency and budget.
But, to be honest, the creative (and by that, I mean the casual use of that word to mean a person) in me is getting really, really bored. And I mean that in the nicest way. These emails all definitely seem to come from the same company and product; and be related and part of the same campaign; and show us presenting ourselves in a consistent manner. But, I gotta say, I have a hard time differentiating from email to email when the topic has changed, or it’s on to something different (a different content topic in a nurture stream, a new offer, a different webcast to attend). I’m worrying that our customers and audience will have an even harder time understanding that transition to new subject, at least at-a-glance. And let’s face it, most of them are glancing, not reading…and sometimes letting emails stack up, so they may even get opened in quick succession of each other.
So, I’ve tasked our marketing folks and our agencies to come up with something, that while consistent and easily repeatable (for easy coding, quick design changes, campaign segmentation, and yes, style guidelines’ adherence, etc), has significant enough differentiation to denote to the reader: “Hey, this is something new and different than you looked at last time…but it’s still from us, and you really should care because it’s going to benefit you!”
Given all the factors of brand, message, budget (big consideration when designing lots and lots of segmented emails!), offers, calls-to-action, etc., this is not a small task. But, it’s one we’re up for, for sure. (And as always, we’ll test differentiation of templates during a campaign versus using one or two standard ones throughout the life of the campaign to see which performs better.)