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The (Almost) Perfect Email

This is a guest post from Jessie Scoullar of Wicksteed Works, a direct-to-fan agency, on how to make email campaigns zing.

We’re signed up to a lot of mailing lists. For solo artists, major artists, indie guitar bands, rock bands, dance acts, independent labels, for authors and filmmakers and agencies and marketing consultants.

We’re professionally interested in how people with a message choose to convey it. Whenever we receive a mailer, we can’t help but scrutinise it – does the layout work? Are the buttons “bulletproof“? Has alternate text been used where the email client has images switched off? Is it optimised for mobile? How about the text – is the message clear? Is there too much, or too little information? Clear call-to-action?

Sometimes a mailer comes through and it all falls into place. There’s no need to pick it apart, because it’s structured perfectly and just works. We received one such mailer from independent label Young Turks last month. It’s a shining light of an email in terms of style, structure and content.

Young Turks is a British independent label launched in 2006 as an imprint of XL Recordings. Its roster includes The xx, FKA twigs, SBTRKT, Sampha, Jamie xx and John Talabot. The design aesthetic is sparse, with beautiful images and slick functionality.

In the inbox, the subject line is simple: “FKA twigs, SBTRKT and more”. This is the first mailer we’ve received from Young Turks, so that was enough to pique our interest. Clicking through on mobile, jaws drop. Nearly the entire screen is taken up with a black and white GIF image showing a short loop from FKA twigs’ latest video, the disquieting ‘Video Girl’, overlaid with capitalised text “watch video girl”. This is an image optimised for mobile viewing, suggesting that Young Turks are aware that their fans are more likely to be picking up this message while on the go. The image links through to the video as part of a playlist on Young Turks’ YouTube page.

Next there is a colour image advertising SBTRKT’s new album, followed by another GIF image displaying Young Turks’ custom USB flash drive. In bold primary colours of red and blue, the GIF consists of just two alternating images, showing the USB in action. Below is a flat colour image advertising FKA twigs’ album. All three link to the relevant page on the Young Turks website, with buy links.

The final image is black and white, and announces “Young Turks Stereo”, a streaming playlist available on a range of services. This links to a Smarturl page where the viewer can select their choice of streaming player before landing on the Young Turks playlist featuring a wide range of music, well beyond the label’s oeuvre.

No text, aside from the minimal messaging included in the five identically-sized images. A range of image styles – two GIFs, two black-and-white, three in colour. Each communicates a simple message and each forms its own linked call-to-action, setting fans up for monetising: either by watching a YouTube video, outright purchasing of products, or more subtly, following a playlist which will provide an opportunity to market future releases as well as back catalogue.

This email won’t work for everybody. Some people will be baffled by the lack of text, and may be confused by the moving images, not realising they are calls-to-action. The email could benefit from some plain-text content, for users who have images switched off.

But aside from this, for the Young Turks’ audience, it works perfectly.

If you need a hand crafting the perfect email for your audience, get in touch with Jessie at Wicksteed Works.

Nicholas Lovell