What is the biggest difference between a responsive email and an adaptive one? In reality, your budget. In this blog, I’m going to compare these two mobile-friendly methods of building emails and what each of them means for the end user’s experience.

When it comes to email, especially from the user’s point of view, they really only care about one thing: The information they’re reading in your message. Essentially, they want to be able to consume the content quickly so that they can either take action or move on.

In that small time-frame when a person checks their email on their phone, you, as the marketer, have to create a design that supports the content and breaks through the clutter to grab hold of the user’s attention. Because let’s be honest – there’s nothing more infuriating than an email that doesn’t load properly or provides zero value.

Wasting the recipient’s’ time is a surefire way to have your future emails sent right to the trash bin of their inbox. So, how can you avoid this fate? You need to create emails that perform well wherever and however the user chooses to read them.

As most of the world is checking their email via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, your emails should be readable on just about all of them (or, if you’ve done your research on your target audience, you can cherry pick the most common devices and optimize for those). Basically, developing a mobile-friendly email is a must. However, fully responsive emails are just visually better.

How? Allow me to explain.

Adaptive Email

These emails simply adapt to the screen size by scaling down proportionately. For example, if part of your email has an image next to some text in a two-column layout, it will remain that way on all devices. The downside is that on particularly small devices like smartphones, your text may be so small that users can’t read it without pinching the screen to zoom in, which isn’t going to provide the best user experience for your audience.

Responsive Email

In a responsive email, the design responds to the screen size by recognizing the width. The same two-column layout on a smaller device will instead stack the image and text on top of one another so that the text remains large enough to read. Your users won’t need to pinch and zoom, as the email is perfectly readable on whatever device they’re using.

With that in mind, some will argue that responsive emails will garner more user engagement because of the favorable user experience, and more engagement may lead to increased conversions. However, there are many variables that contribute to whether the user will ultimately decide to take further action, including, but not limited to, the content and design.

So why does the budget decide?

It would be awesome if we could always use responsive emails all the time, every time. In the beginning, I said that it was your budget that realistically decided what method you use to build your emails. That’s because time is money, and fully responsive emails take a lot of a developer’s time to build and test.

Adaptive emails take much less effort to build and are much less time-consuming than fully responsive emails. There is only one version and it simply scales to the device. Testing across different devices, browsers, and email clients is less painful because the email should look the same in all of them. Just set the same width value in three different ways and you’re done! No messy media queries that may or may not work.

Fully responsive emails, on the other hand, take much longer because the developer has to test the email thoroughly to ensure it looks fantastic across the different devices, browsers, and email clients. A fix for a bug in one email client might break something that worked in another one. So that starts the process of what I like to call fiddling around until they find a solution.

To help you decide whether you should go for the fully responsive or adaptive email approach, I present to you the Iron Triangle, also known as the project manager’s triangle. Your ideal goal for any project would be to get the best deal by paying the least amount for a good quality product with fast turnaround time. While I hate to be the bearer of bad news, accomplishing all three is simply impossible; you have to choose up to two of the three goals: fast, good, and/or cheap. Anyone who promises you can have them all is lying – beware!

If you have the budget, it’s worth it to request (and expect) a high-quality result. If your project is also a low priority, the “fast” goal doesn’t matter. In that scenario, only the “good” goal was chosen. Those are my favorite types of projects because I can spend the time making a great, robust, and bug-free product. The fast and cheap projects hurt my soul because it is inevitable that the outcome will be of low quality. If you need to choose cheap, I’d recommend setting your deadline far in advance, else the quality will suffer and everyone working on it will know it before it ever even reaches the user.

I think I’ve covered enough for one article. As you can see, I’m very vested in this subject, so I’m going to leave you with a teaser for a future blog post:

Adaptive emails are not “enough” and fully responsive emails are too time-consuming, so check back in the coming weeks to learn about how new method developers like me are now learning!

I don’t know about you, but I receive tons of emails each day in my Gmail inbox. Some are my fault; I had signed up for a newsletter on a whim because it was something I was actually interested in (like sales at Michael’s or DSW), and others might just be a result of third-party companies selling your data for profit and you end up on some list that’s kind of related to a thing you bought once on eBay three years ago.

I used to be vigilant in sorting my email. I’d go through everything and delete promotions that were no longer in date, archive reports on accounts from weeks ago, and sort my client emails in the inbox into folders. But then it started taking longer and longer to sort my Gmail. There was just too much! So I started to unsubscribe or update my preferences to be less frequent, but I still had thousands of emails to delete or archive, so what to do?

First, I looked at the Spam and Trash folder since they already had this feature. I had hoped to find a checkbox or something in my settings to simply enable it. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Next, I searched Google. While I am a developer, part of my mantra includes not reinventing the wheel. Surely I’m not the first person to want this, so maybe someone already created something to help!

I came upon this Gmail Auto Purge tool by Digital Inspiration, written in Google Scripts. It is a very simple tool that simply takes a Gmail label and the number of days and then it just deletes emails based on those parameters. However, it didn’t encompass all of my needs. For starters, I need to also automatically archive emails in the Updates category because I don’t want to delete them forever (like digital receipts for tax purposes), and secondly, it only used the “label” parameter in the search and I needed to use “category”. Thankfully, Digital Inspiration posted their source code for the script, so it gave me a starting point. Here is the criteria I wanted to be able to change about their script:

  1. Ability to choose a “Do This” action, even if it’s just a boolean between deleting and archiving. Ideally, I’d like to have the same options as I do when creating a filter.
  2. Ability to use any search query, specifically “category:promotions”, “category:updates”, and “category:social”.
  3. Change how often it runs from once a day to every week or even once a month. As a developer, I feel like I need to consider processing power, and I don’t particularly care if I have an email in my Promotions category that is exactly 30 days and 5 hours old. It can wait until the script runs again every 3 days or so to delete that one.

So I modified the script and created my own. Now without further ado, get organized by completing the form below to receive a copy of the Gmail Auto-Organize script, then follow the installation instructions!

Installation Instructions

  1. Create a copy of the Gmail Auto-Organize script into your Google Drive by completing the form above.
  2. Update the value of the string variable (text that appears within double quotes) called search_term to whatever you would use to search your email. Any search operator is valid. Because I’m targeting the Promotions tab, I would change it to “category:promotions”.
  3. Set the various actions of what you want to do with the emails that meet these parameters to true or false. Descriptions of what these actions do are listed below.
  4. Update the value of days to how old you want the email to be when it gets automatically sorted. I set this to 30 so it only deletes Promotional emails that are 30 days old or older. In case you were wondering, this script is using the older_than search operator in conjunction with your search parameters in step 2 to filter your emails.
  5. Update the value of repeat to how often you want this script to run. I set mine to 7 so it only runs this script and auto-deletes Promotional emails once a week.
  6. Click on Run -> Authorize to allow the script to access your email and manage it.
  7. Click on Run -> Install to start it up.
  8. Optional: Click on Run -> Sort Gmail to run the script immediately if you don’t want to wait ;)

And that’s all! If you want to turn it off, just open the script up in your Google Drive and click on Run -> Uninstall.

Actions Explained

  • If you want these emails to be sent to the Trash, change the value of action_delete to true. I set this to true because I want to delete the Promotions emails.
  • If you want these emails to be archived (shoved into the All Mail area of your account), change the value of action_archive to true. I set this to false because I only want to delete the Promotions emails.
  • If you want to add a label to these emails, change the value of action_addLabel from false to the name of the label you want to add, surrounded by double quotes (like in search_term). I set this to false because I only want to delete the Promotions emails.
  • If you want to remove a label from these emails, change the value of action_removeLabel from false to the name of the label you want to add, surrounded by double quotes (like in search_term). I set this to false because I only want to delete the Promotions emails.
  • If you want these emails to be sent to your Inbox, change the value of action_inbox to true. I set this to false because I only want to delete the Promotions emails.
  • If you want these emails to marked as important, change the value of action_important to true. I set this to false because I only want to delete the Promotions emails.
  • If you want these emails to marked as unimportant, change the value of action_unimportant to true. I set this to false because I only want to delete the Promotions emails.
  • If you want these emails to marked as read, change the value of action_read to true. I set this to false because I only want to delete the Promotions emails.
  • If you want these emails to marked as unread, change the value of action_unread to true. I set this to false because I only want to delete the Promotions emails.
  • If you want these emails to be sent to your Spam, change the value of action_spam to true. I set this to false because I only want to delete the Promotions emails.

I’d just written an SEO report for a client who had been using an H1 tag in multiple places per page on their site—something I see fairly often—and as usual, I made sure to call this out in my report.

You should only ever have one H1 tag per page, I wrote. My normal elaboration goes like this: Think of your header tags like a topic hierarchy. The primary header, or H1, should encompass the main concept or topic of the page. H2s are subheads that support that topic. H3s are subheads that support topics under H2s, etc. Because there’s only supposed to be one topic per page, each page should only have one H1.

“But what about long-form webpages?” Aart, the creative director, asked. It wasn’t really a question. More of a challenge, really. But it got me thinking. (Mission accomplished, Aart.)

Web developments and designs are always changing. Attention spans are shortening. Pages are getting longer and fancier, with a bigger emphasis on user experience and eye-catching design. We’re trying to make it easier for the user to find what they need in fewer clicks. All those different pages that were crucial for SEO value don’t always work with contemporary designs.

Anyone who works in search engine optimization knows that it’s already pretty hard to find the right balance between SEO and UX, but how can you do it when your design dictates more than one topic on a page? How do you make solid SEO-related decisions that work with new user experiences?

Well…the truth is, you actually can use more than one H1 per page—but only if you’re “up to code,” so to speak.

First: Make sure you’re using HTML 5.

Unlike previous versions, HTML5 is equipped with the capability to code multiple sections into a webpage. Search crawlers can process these tags and understand that the content inside is unique to that section, and not necessarily pertaining to the overall topic of the page (more on that below). Older versions of HTML don’t give the same clues in a way that makes sense to a crawler in terms of optimization.

Second: You’ve gotta get your tags right.

In terms of SEO, there are two different types of HTML5 tags that can help crawlers dissect your page: <section> tags and <article> tags. When used correctly, these tags help crawlers understand that different topics exist on a single page. A <section> tag indicates that the content inside that tag relates to a single theme, and an <article> tag indicates a piece of content that could stand on its own, like a blog post or a news story.

For sections, think of it like this: you have a page about SEO Fundamentals that’s divided into three separate, robust sections about Content, Site Architecture and Link Building. You don’t want to have three separate pages about these items, so you put them all on the same page. Each is related to the main topic – SEO Fundamentals – and each topic could be considered just as important as the others. They all carry the same weight.

For articles, on the other hand, think about a blog that scrolls infinitely. In other words, when you get to the bottom of the page, more articles are loaded so you can keep on scrolling and reading. It can feature a variety of topics, from digital marketing to restaurant reviews (clearly our theoretical blog writer has a lot of diverse interests). Each one of these articles can stand on its own, away from the context of the page.

Third: Make sure you’re only using one H1 tag per section.

If you think about it, the same header tag hierarchy that you’d use for a single page also applies to a single section or article. So you’d use one H1 to capture the topic of the section; H2s to designate a subtopic of the H1; H3s to designate subtopics of H2s, etc. Just because you’re using more than one H1 per page doesn’t mean you get to escape the hierarchical logic after all!

The Final Verdict

So can you use more than one H1 tag on a page?

Yes if you can properly code out sections or articles on your page, and you’re following W3C best practices.

No if you’re using a version of HTML that predates HTML5, or if you’re using header tags to style different parts of your site rather than make a logical page structure. (Yup, it happens.)

Not sure if your site structure is up to snuff? Contact the experts at Flying Cork!

Millions of marketing dollars are spent every year on digital paid advertisements. Wouldn’t it be great if you could make those dollars work harder for you?

Imagine if you could increase lead volume by 20-50% while keeping spend levels unchanged. With an effective landing page strategy, it’s certainly achievable—and may be easier that you’d think. Whether you’re dabbling in paid advertising efforts or you’re a long-time veteran, remember to pay special attention to your landing page content and design—it can make or break your campaign.

Ready to pump up your paid advertising efforts? Try out these easy tricks to increase landing page conversions.

Minimize any opportunities for a user to click away without converting.

That means taking out the top navigation or any links that could direct users away from the landing page. If you’re paying to send traffic to your landing pages, you really don’t want them to leave before you capture the lead. The ROI for that tactic is roughly equal to flushing your money down the toilet.

Put a form at the top right of the landing page, above the fold.

At Flying Cork, we’ve built a lot of landing pages. The ones with the best conversion rates almost exclusively have the form in this position. Why does this work so well? When a user sees the form first thing above the fold, they immediately understand that there is a value proposition: Is it worth it to trade their information for the offer? They don’t get stuck reading a page only to find out that they have to fill out a form in order to get what they really want.

Furthermore, a typical Internet user looks at a page like a book, reading from left to right. If there’s a form on the right side, then where does the headline, text and imagery go? In the empty space to the left, of course, becoming the first thing the user sees. With the right copy and feel-good imagery, you can prepare users for the information request.

Include a clear call to action on the form.

And by clear, I mean something that helps the user understand exactly what they’re getting in return for filling out your landing page form. Good button text includes language such as “Download,” “Get More Information,” or “Schedule Appointment.” Avoid vague text such as “Click Here” or “Go!”

Think about the mobile experience.

Mobile visitors usually have a different intent than someone on a desktop or tablet, and they tend to have a more urgent need for information. They want to act quickly rather than draw out the research process and wait for a reply after filling out a form. To help them get what they need as fast as possible, consider using a trackable click-to-call phone number.

Use clear headlines and scannable content.

No one is going to stick around to read paragraphs upon paragraphs of text on your landing page. Well, some might, but for the majority who won’t, make sure your headlines and design are conducive to scanning. Do your best to enable users to understand your offerings and unique benefits at a glance.

Up the trust factor.

You can make your landing page more trustworthy by including relevant partnerships, certifications or customer testimonials. Partnerships with or endorsements from recognizable associations can make users feel more comfortable with giving away their information. Including testimonials shows users that other people have used the product or service before them with good results. This should go without saying, but always make sure to include REAL testimonials—never fabricate them. You want people to trust you, after all!

Always have a thank you page.

Remember in tip #1, where we said to minimize any opportunity for users to click off the landing page? Well, if you have a thank you page, you can encourage users to click around your properties all you want. I wouldn’t suggest adding a top navigation here, because it will most likely lead to an inconsistent design experience. However, you can include links back to your website so users can learn more, or try directing them to your blog and social pages. Help them get engaged with your online properties—open up those gateways for them and make it easy for them to discover more. Of course, make sure you’ve got plenty of fresh content there to keep their attention!

Intrigued? Check out this blog post for more tips on thank you pages, or read how a former unbeliever saw the value of paid search.

When you think of augmented reality (AR), you might imagine a person with a headset on, wildly flailing their arms as they fight off zombies.

Though that’s true to an extent, AR is evolving – and the possibilities are fascinating. Just take Pokémon Go, for example. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen people aimlessly walking around with their heads down, furiously flicking their smartphone screens to catch the Pokémon character in their area. (I have to admit, I’m guilty of doing this, too!)

Pokémon Go might not fit the typical headset-donning idea of AR, but it’s taken the biggest stride so far to make this type of gaming more accessible to mainstream audiences. Watching its success got me thinking that AR could have a place in the digital marketing world as well.

Don’t believe me? Hear me out.

Soon enough, both AR and virtual reality (VR) headsets are headed for the masses, giving marketers yet another way to reach their customers.

Though not as common (yet!), AR is slowly but surely beginning to make its play in digital marketing strategies due to its mix of technology, visual effects, and entertainment. Pokémon Go has become a huge success for businesses in particular because they are able to utilize this technology to encourage users to visit their stores via the game. Businesses are increasingly turning their stores into “PokéStops,” which increases foot traffic and has led to additional sales.

The New York Post reports that the L’inizio Pizza Bar in Long Island City supposedly increased its business by 75 percent just by inviting Pokémon Go users to play the game in the comfort of their restaurant.

You can transform your business into a PokéStop, too!

Now, let’s imagine the possibilities of what can be done with this technology beyond Pokémon Go. I already started to jot down some ideas that I wanted to share with you.

  1. Let me set a scene for you. You’re walking down the street and a storefront catches your eye. Right then and there, the company’s contact information appears on your phone, seemingly out of nowhere! AR has the potential to make the world a bit more interesting by enhancing reality with digital advertisements.
  2. In the retail industry, customers could digitally try on clothes, accessories and even makeup in the mirror … of their own homes! AR could enhance the at-home online shopping experience.
  3. Brands could have their advertisements displayed in the lobbies of buildings or could even transform a seemingly blank wall into an immersive experience for users.

While Augmented Reality offers fantastic opportunities, I also think that there will be a fine line between being immersive and intrusive.

Many people believe that advertising is already too intrusive, especially when users are forced to watch a 30-second ad that they cannot skip, or as many as six commercials during a 20 minute Hulu show. It’s this type of advertising that really leaves a sour taste in their user’s mouth.

So, it will be important that AR and VR advertising is done in a smart way to avoid tainting the users’ perception of the experience before it even takes off. Integration should be subtle so that users are not overwhelmed by the new mediums. Much like how a search engine displays a snippet in the results, the design for AR’s “first glance” should be unobtrusive, but interesting.

As Augmented Reality continues to pick up steam in the tech world, I’m very anxious to see if any of my preliminary predictions come to fruition.

Want to try AR for yourself? Companies like VTime, Aurasma, and Augment are all working to give everyday people the opportunity to try their hand at AR.

How do you think Augmented Reality can make a play in the digital marketing world?  I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below. 

It’s no secret that people enjoy play. We spend our free time, away from our work, at play. In fact, as of 2008, a significant portion of the average American’s income went toward entertainment spending ranging from companion animals and their care to video games. We want to make ourselves happy, and play, in its many forms, accomplishes it.

We should engage our users in their free time by providing them with a tool that is simultaneously useful and enjoyable to use.

This enjoyment goes beyond aesthetics. Our specialty is not in the realm of creating beauty, but instead creating functional beauty. As such, a web app should not only look nice to attract a user, but function in such a way that both keeps the user from leaving in frustration and retains the user in the long-term.

Gamification: an introduction

Gamification is widely defined as using play to engage users in non-play situations. To avoid getting into the neuroscience, we will operate under the following explanation: Completing goals and earning rewards are addictive. Once we earn a reward, we want to earn more. Thus, to build engagement, one must set goals for the user and reward the user for continuing to use the app.

Who is gamifying, and how does it work?

Many existing applications and services have used gamification to great effect.

As an example of how gamification works, fitness app Fitocracy leverages gamification to encourage users toward physical fitness through incremental (such as “experience points”) and cumulative rewards (such as trophies or achievements). All of this is wrapped into a social platform for tracking exercise, which on its own, would be a mundane, almost maligned activity.

How can we gamify our app?

Quantifying something as “fun” is extraordinarily subjective. However, there are a couple rules that one can follow to promote an engaging gamified experience.

Offer Encouragement

While the user uses your application, they should be guided along by positive language, encouraging them to keep working at what they’re working at, or telling them that they’re doing well.

Offer Rewards

Whether tangible or intangible, offer the user rewards. Many modern video games offer points, achievements, or in-game items as a reward. Similarly, apps should offer similar achievements or points for bragging rights. Some even offer discounts or free products as incentives.

Game Over

Play is the way to stay in your user’s day. Give them an enjoyable product, and they will reward your efforts with repeat visits and higher user buy-in!

Tim Snyder is the Front-End Developer at Flying Cork.