With the growing popularity of email marketing, differentiation has become imperative for brands looking to stand out from one another. Thinking “outside the box” for email designs can be an effective way to bring your brand to the forefront of your subscribers’ attention.

To give you some ideas as you plan your 2017 email marketing strategy, here are some unique emails from 2016 that caught our eye and can serve as inspiration for you:

1) Taco Bell

A good old-fashioned Choose Your Own Adventure email! This interactive makes good use of the preheader, plus displays the map depending on which CTA is selected. The only real concern here is whether they’ve used an effective fallback image for browsers that don’t support animation and interactivity. We hope they have!

email design - Taco Bell

2) Boden

A good pre-header text with the cute GIF grabs the attention of the readers. With to-the-point offer text and bold CTA underneath, the email targets the customers perfectly. It offers good information to the first-time shoppers who have questions about the shopping process.

Email marketing strategy - Boden

3) Chubbies

A truly out-of-the-box email design—or perhaps a different “inbox” look. Keeping real interactivity in mind, they’ve shown a chat conversation with a bold CTA. Highlighting “Free Shipping” and “Free Exchanges” is the cherry on the cake.

Email marketing strategy - Chubbies

4) J.Crew

All the email marketing guides support the idea that emails should be as short as possible. Contrary to the “almost-universally” followed email marketing best practices, J.Crew embraces the “scroll” and entices the customers to scroll through mouth-watering ice cream scoops with a clear CTA at the end.

Email marketing strategy - J.Crew

5) Loft

The GIF image perfectly blends within the email. It’s a good idea to highlight the “DAILY QUIZ” tab in the navigation bar. The CTA creates a sense of urgency to the subscribers.

Email marketing strategy - Loft
2016 has marked the advent of interactivity in emails. These out-of-the-box email designs embraced the trend quite well.

If you need any help creating such remarkable emails, InboxArmy can help you design and code your email marketing templates to build your brand.

When it comes to conferences and events, most businesses spend much of their time planning everything that revolves around the physical booth. They tend to overlook the value of pre-conference marketing.

Pre- event email marketing is the perfect way to create awareness about your brand’s conference presence and an essential vehicle to boost booth visits and participation. Here are some email marketing tips to hit a home run at your next conference/event: 

Building Your Pre-Conference Target List

Here are 4 ways you can get contacts for your mailing list:

  1. Through Social Media – You can tap the individuals who have confirmed their attendance on the Facebook page of the conference organizers or through the Twitter hashtag for the show.
  2. From Attendee Lists– If you get an attendee list from the organizers, you can do research to find the relevant contacts and add them to your list.
  3. Your Local Clients– If you have clients in the local area of the show, invite them to come to the show and visit your booth along the way.
  4. From Event Landing Page Appointments– You can email to those who have given their email address to book an appointment at the conference booth.


Tapping the Right Pulse Matters: What and When to Send

When to start sending your email campaigns may depend on the nature of the event/ conference you’re attending. Some conferences sell out quickly and early, so your event email marketing campaigns can start earlier—perhaps a month or two out.

Some conferences sell tickets to walk-ins, so starting a campaign too early may not be that beneficial. For those conferences, starting your email campaign two weeks out may be a good place to start.

No matter when you start, at least one email campaign is a must. Ideally, your email strategy should revolve around a series of emails, preferably personalized.

First Email

The first email would be an announcement + invitation email. This includes when and where the conference is, what it is about, and why you have booked a booth there.

You can include options to book appointments with your representatives at the conference. You can also highlight any incentives or giveaways you might be featuring.

Second Email

The second email will provide further details about your company and what attendees can expect. Flaunt the freebies you’ll be giving away. If you’re offering free consultations, offer reminder. If one of your representatives will be speaking at the conference, showcase that session as a reason to come say hello.

Final Pre-Conference Email

From a week until 24 hours before the event, send a reminder or two to clients about visiting your booth or to confirm appointments. You can also help by providing a booth location map, parking information, etc.

The number of emails you send is ultimately up to you. A few things to consider as you plan your campaign:

  1. Your list won’t be perfect in terms of whether the folks you add to your list are actually attending. Make sure you have strong, working unsubscribes and adjust your expectations for engagement accordingly.
  2. Focus on creating brand awareness. Your brand logo, colors, and themes will help attendees remember who you are and know what to look for when they arrive into exhibition hall.
  3. Include pictures of your booth from past events and quotes from previous attendees to boost impressions from first-time attendees.
  4. Provide a link to a dedicated event landing page (discussed below). 

Create a Designated Event Landing Page

As a best practice, create a landing page that provides detailed information about your booth at the conference. You can have CTAs that take email recipients to this landing page through your emails.

A landing page can divulge:

  • Details of what they can expect of you at the event
  • Details of the individuals they will find at your booth
  • How one can book an appointment with you at the booth

You can also incorporate a countdown timer on the landing page to communicate the time left for the event to start.

Leverage Social Media, Too

Connecting on social media with those who are attending the conference is yet another way to get a head start ahead of the conference. Ideally, your social media campaign should embrace 3 strategies:

  • Creating a brand image
  • Targeting influencers
  • Listening to what others in the group are saying 

Pre-Conference Email Ideas

Check out this pre-conference email created by InboxArmy that has really helped our client.

Email Marketing


I frequently get asked questions about how an email marketing list “should” perform. How a particular brand’s engagement metrics “should” compare to industry “standards.” The answer I always come back to is this:

Every email list is different.

This is not to say that you should toss out industry benchmark reports altogether. But comparing your list to others in your industry or in general becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy—either you feel good about your numbers, you feel terrible about your numbers, or you start to rest on your laurels that you’re “hitting the average.”

Why is every email list different? I point to two major factors:

1.Your Brand is Different

Even in your category, your brand is different. It’s viewed differently by your current customers, your potential customers, and the world at large. Your products and services are going to be viewed differently. If you truly have a unique selling proposition (marketing buzzword bingo alert!), then why wouldn’t your list engage differently with your content versus the content of your competitors?

2. Your email list is filled with human beings. People.

Our friends over at Inbox Group put together this wonderful infographic a while back about the real people on your email list. In it, we’re reminded that:

[People’s] lives change constantly, just like ours do. They might get a new job. They move, they get married, they get divorced, they have a baby, they buy a home… and they deal with all the same life issues every one of us deals with on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis.

Buying habits change due to changes in life. Engagement patterns can change as well.

Okay, great. My list is filled with people. Now what do I do?

You need to establish your own internal benchmarks. Perform an audit of your current email marketing program (or we can help you) and determine your averages in these key metrics:

  • Open Rate
  • Click-through Rate
  • Click-to-Open Rate
  • Unsubscribe Rate
  • Conversion Rate
  • Average Order Value
  • Revenue Generated Per Send
  • Revenue Generated Per Open
  • Revenue Generated Per Click

These are just some ideas. Maybe your email list isn’t designed to drive revenue but other types of engagement. Whatever your definition of a “conversion” metric is, focus on that in your audit.

Once you’ve determined your benchmarks, focus your efforts on marginal improvements. You can hit a home run every once in a while, but progress is made through incremental growth and focus, not the big shots.

Today, subscribers spend just 3-4 seconds deciding whether to open and peruse your emails. Pre-header text—the “appetizer before the main course” portion of your email design—carries more weight as email rendering continues to evolve with technology.

How should you utilize this ever-more valuable real estate? Are you still using a “View in Browser” link? Is it even necessary?

Studies suggest NO!

According to data pulled by our friends at Adestra, there’s been a steep decline in the click-through rates for a “View in Browser” link.

Email Marketing

Perhaps now is the time to phase out the “View in Browser” link altogether and focus on using the real estate for customized pre-header text. Customizing pre-header text can boost open rates, help grab the attention of your subscribers, and give a sneak peek into the email’s content to drive action.

A solid pre-header needs to include:

  • A strong call-to-action (CTA)
  • Short, concise content teases to drive interest

How does a strong call to action compare to using the preheader real estate for a “View in Browser” link? Let’s look at that same Adestra data:

Email Marketing

Source: Adestra

Check Your Own Data First

All this being said, if you’re using a “View in Browser” link in your pre-header, take a look at your data first before killing it off. You could find it’s still necessary (particularly in the B2B space). Or, you could find your data matches up with Sparkroom’s.

Sparkroom conducted a survey of their own data for all of their full-service clients’ campaign metrics, specifically looking for clicks on a “View in Browser” link. They found that only 0.2% of opens involved a browser, while the rest were rendered via webmail, a desktop app, or mobile:

Email Marketing

Mobile opens are likely the main culprit contributing to these numbers as well. As mobile rendering has improved, and mobile opens have increased to well over 50% of total opens (as indicated by this Litmus study and many others), the honest truth of rendering on mobile is this: If it doesn’t look good in the email client on mobile, it won’t look good in a mobile browser as well.

Is It Time?

The “View in Browser” link is a classic and seems like it should still be considered an email marketing best practice. The reality? It just may not be necessary anymore. Take a look at your data, test usage against solid pre-headers, and remove the “View in Browser” if you find it unwanted. Your subscribers will tell you the full story.

Consumers like receiving emails from brands. In fact, according to Marketing Sherpa, 72% of customers prefer communication with companies to happen through email.

Email Automation

Source: Marketing Sherpa


In order to benefit from the full potential of email, it is crucial to know that you must neither bombard subscribers with daily messages nor keep the number of messages you send to an absolute minimum.

Email Automation

Source: 10 Facts about How and Why Consumers Like and Subscribe


To stay on top of the mind of your subscribers and monetize email marketing, you must provide users with the feeling of timely and regular communication. The sooner you get your subscribers accustomed to the frequency of your emails, the better.

Reach out to your leads when their interest in your brand is high and they are the most receptive to hearing your marketing message i.e. the moment they sign up. This is where Email Automation comes into picture. It helps to nurture a better relationship that may convert your subscribers into customers.

What Is Email Automation?

Email automation involves emails that are sent in a pre-set sequence once a new subscribe happens. As these emails are set to go out in a sequence and order that you decide, they help produce positive results with a limited amount of effort on your part.

The Benefits of Email Automation


Saves time

Email automation can be set up ahead of time. As you can schedule them at your convenience, it helps to save your precious time.

Saves money

Up to 98% of first-time visitors coming to your website are not sales ready. That is why you encourage them to join your email list. Once they have subscribed, sending automated emails greatly enhances the lead nurturing process.

Don’t wait; start from Day One! Set up a series of emails – a drip marketing program. You will have a chance of reducing cost per customer acquisition by an average of 33%.

Builds valuable relationships

Using email automation you can introduce your subscribers to your brand, and by getting more and more data at your disposal, you can address their needs better.

Not everyone who joins your email list will become a customer. However, the smart use of email automation will let you win a sizeable number.

Educates subscribers

If you’re selling to business customers, you have to remember that most of them are not ready to purchase your product or service the moment they’re browsing your website.

Prepare a few opt-in strategies with freemium content which aims at different pain points. When a visitor downloads one of your freemium PDF files, you can follow up with them through an email automation cycle.

Educational program delivered in the form of automated emails will help your subscribers make an informed decision enabling them to fulfill their company goals with your product or service.

The buying process in B2B is risky, so try to reduce the risk of investment for your potential customer by including information adequate to your leads’ buying stages:

  • Problem/need recognition – send out a bundle of informative blog posts tailored to the downloaded freemium content.
  • Information search – send testimonials of your satisfied customers and use the power of social proof. Point out the best practices enabled by the use of your software or product.
  • Evaluation of alternatives – send a snippet of a whitepaper or a branch report to create a unique selling point and strengthen your expert image.
  • Purchase decision – send, for example, five reasons to choose you as a vendor and provide subscribers with a time limited offer.

Kick-Start Customer Relationship with Email Automation

We have summed up a few ideas on how to show the new subscriber that you are committed to doing the little “extras” and your brand is customer-friendly. Consider including the following in your automated email copy:

  • Information that will build trust right from the start – Tell them about your company. Provide social proof from customers who trust your brand. Include information about customer service and social media profiles to make sure that new subscribers can easily reach out to you.
  • Information that will send visitors to your site – Flaunt your website, include the best articles or customer guidelines and start building your brand credibility.
  • Information which will help you learn more about your subscribers – Include a link to a preference center in your automated emails; it will help you segment your subscribers and also personalize your content based on their interests.

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