Yokel Newsletter

Our studio philosophy is to always have at least one creative initiative or ‘love project’ in the works at any given time. You might be familiar with the illustration work we did for a series of first edition Rollo book spines recently? Well they were our third set and it has become a mainstay of ongoing work not unlike our most recent efforts with Yokel.

Yokel aims to highlight local businesses doing amazing things. Pretty simple. They might be sustainable, creative, supporting other locals or simply doing something that we’ve never seen before. The collection is simply a digital bookmark of things we as a team thought we cool.

amazing locals

We invested in creating a beautiful EDM template for our Yokel Newsletter, knowing how important branding, scannability and content are to user interaction

After a few months of half a dozen or so pieces a week we thought that world at large might be interested too and started sharing it via a simple and to the point email newsletter designed and developed specifically to showcase 5 businesses plus a link to submit your own site to the Yokel initiative.

As far back 2011 SEO guru Neil Patel at Quick Sprout was discussing what to avoid with email marketing. While 99% of this stuff is second nature to a digital agency it’s always good to brush up on your EDM best practices.

The ‘Yokels’ are short profile pieces giving kudos to what’s different about the business and what they’re doing that makes them so great, as well as links to their website, company Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. We activate our posts through our own social networks which also drive hits to these links.

With the Yokel community growing at a steady pace (we covered 110 businesses in just a couple of months), we wanted to target our wider community and existing Yokels with a weekly Email Direct Marketing (EDM) campaign.

EDM design
The great thing about EDMs is the longevity they have in an inbox. While most of our database follow us on social media, we found we still have a greater reach with an EDM, with people opening the email and even submitting to Yokel up to 3 days after the email was sent.

However, an EDM does not necessarily equal click throughs or conversions. We’ve been beta-testing EDM campaigns and an email template design coupled with great imagery and digital copywriting has a far better chance of capturing your reader’s attention before they hit the ‘junk’ button. As does the time it’s sent out (we recommend Tuesday mornings).

A beautifully designed EDM template is different to a beautifully designed brochure. There are several important bases to cover when designing an EDM to encourage the user to respond. Number one is to make sure that you’re sending interesting content.

The second is to give your reader content that is scannable. People are busy, and will skim the information for key points to see if they’re interested in what you’ve written about. Breaking up the information with images and sub-titles makes it easier to digest, and an effective subject line can help to lessen your bounce rate.

EDM design
This is why our Yokel Newsletter contains 5 articles each with punchy subject lines, a 3 line description and an option to Read More. Any more than 5 articles and it becomes too long, any less and there just wasn’t enough substance.

Importantly for this project, we’ve made the last section into a call to action asking for submissions of other amazing locals for us to feature. Also included in the Yokel EDM are links to our own Facebook, Twitter and website making it simple to find out more about us and what we do.

We were pretty stoked with 11 submissions on the first newsletter which have remained consistent since we started the campaigns. Like any component in a digital strategy, we’re constantly monitoring our open and click-through rates to see how things are being received. Being nimble and having the ability to shake things up to get better results is one the biggest strengths a company can have, and one vital to success.

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by Radi Safi

Radi Safi is the Creative Director at IYBI. In 2012 he launched Happy, a music blog and media company.
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