80% of success is showing up: Coursera’s brilliant re-engagement emails

Coursera Philosophy Course Email

I adore this re-engagement email from Coursera. Everything about it is great: the subject line and heading, the simple layout, the short copy, the awesome call to action. I found myself clicking Show up when I had barely finished reading the email.

The best thing about this email is how they frame their call to action: they make the cost of clicking through so incredibly low. All I have to do is show up? That’s so easy! I can definitely do that right now!

It’s a great reminder of how important it is to give people a super low bar to jump over in order to engage with your content, no matter what it is. If you ask a lot of someone in a call to action, their mind very rapidly calculates the cost in effort to be too high and will abandon the task. If you give them the world’s simplest task to do, you are giving them a quick win.

Coursera use similarly excellent tactics in a second follow-up email. Again, being asked simply to give up ten minutes of my time is a no-brainer. Coursera know full well that the most difficult part about re-engaging is actually getting started, so they are making it as easy as can be.

Needless to say, I am now all caught up on my course 🙂


Great Examples: Code School’s beautifully responsive Summer Camp email

This has been a great week for email design! Look at this little beauty by Dan Denney for Code School, with amazing illustrations by Justin Mezzell. Dan has done a great job with the email build and it’s fully fluid, adapting to absolutely any size. All of the illustrations and text scale perfectly. (Unfortunately I don’t have a copy of the email that I could pop into Litmus Scope, but Dan did kindly share the code on Twitter!)

Click to view full size

The illustrations and colour palette all blend perfectly with the Summer Camp site which is also very beautifully designed. Brilliant! I just can’t stop using exclamation marks for this one.

I love these illustrations!
I love these illustrations!

Great Examples: Tinkering Monkey’s excellent responsive email

My buddy Niall sent me this fantastic responsive email from Tinkering Monkey and I absolutely love it. It’s really well designed, fits in so wonderfully with their beautiful website, and is fabulously responsive. It’s proof of what’s possible using the built in template editor over at MailChimp with a great design, great images and some clever customisation know-how.

Once I saw the email I immediately sent an email to Paula Chang, the developer at Tinkering Monkey who is also responsible for their lovely website. I asked her a couple of questions about the process and she kindly spared a moment to give me her thoughts.

What were some great resources or sources of inspiration that helped with creating your responsive email?
When I designed the HTML, I designed it to look as close to our website as possible (www.tinkeringmonkey.com). MailChimp gets credit for the responsive layout – they did an excellent job with their new email builder.

Were there any pitfalls or tricky aspects?
Didn’t really find any – again, MailChimp’s new email builder made it super easy.

Any other thoughts on the overall process of building responsive HTML email?
Keep the design simple and scannable!

Tommasso Font from the Lost Type Co-Op
Tommasso typeface by Eli Horn from the Lost Type Co-Op

I love the bold use of a huge header that then shrinks down beautifully on mobile. Sometimes people are afraid to use enormous type but I always think it’s a total winner, especially with such a short, punchy headline. This email also makes great use of the free typeface Tommaso which looks particularly good at large sizes.

Red text links are easy to spot

Using a contrasting red for links makes them very easy to spot as you scan through. Excellent photography is also a big help, and of course having lovely products in the first place doesn’t hurt!

Well done to Paula and the team at Tinkering Monkey.