“Good artists copy; great artists steal.”
That quote, attributed to Pablo Picasso, has been the source of
heated debates inside and outside the art world. What did one of
the 20th century’s most original artists mean?
It’s up for debate. But when it comes to email marketing,
we’ve used this phrase to develop the Picasso Method: an approach
to help businesses that have recently begun their ecommerce
marketing journey learn how to become quickly proficient at all
facets of email marketing. In essence, we share tips that will help
you learn from the best ecommerce email marketing and apply it to
your own business.
Specifically, this four-step method will share:
- How to find great emails to use as inspiration
- Why and what to gain from studying marketing thought
- Why to take part in peer groups and organizations
- How to derive valuable email marketing ideas from the brands
that you love
Essentially, we’ve taken Picasso’s quote and embraced it
from the perspective that, while every business should have a
unique point of view on its ecommerce product, it certainly can use
work that’s already successfully done to help formulate its own
great email marketing.
Let’s detail each of the four steps so you can launch your own
campaigns based on what you learn.
1. Study email templates out in the real world.
Spend some time looking at emails that other ecommerce brands
You’ll find a massive collection of email design examples
on Really Good Emails.
The website, which has been around since 2014, boasts more than
4,000 sample emails that show off design and code for marketing
professionals to see and learn from.
This repository of curated emails gives you examples across many
industries and business categories, offering visual inspiration on
how to use photography, illustration, and layout to make your
emails compelling. Plus, you can study the varied and different
styles of copywriting, too.
By exploring Really Good Emails, a business can identify key
elements in branding and how they correlate overall with a planned
email marketing campaign.
“Matthew Smith and his squad over at Really Good Emails have
been collecting email designs like baseball cards since at least
2014 when the domain was first registered, and ever since then
they’ve featured thousands of emails from all kinds of
writes Jon Moore, a senior design partner at Innovatemap.
For example, here’s an It’s an abandoned cart email from
Saatchi Art, showcasing a great balance between copy, layout, and
2. Read and follow leading email marketing resources.
Keep up with trends and how others are using email marketing.
One way to do this is to follow thought leaders in the email
Those voices have already gained authority through success. This
seems like a clear path back to that Picasso quote. Think about it:
Businesses create thought leadership to answer their consumers’
questions. Do the same: Use it to answer yours about email
Thought leadership in action ultimately has value to your
2019 Edelman–LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact
Study found that 55% of B2B decision-makers use thought
leadership to evaluate potential vendors and suppliers.
Marketing thought leaders will challenge you to view email
marketing from different perspectives. By reading and following
these leaders’ social accounts, you can extend the marketing
brain power of your small team (which might be just yourself in a
When possible, engage in dialogue with these experts. Ask
questions and exchange ideas. You may also find other regular,
engaged readers of these thought leaders and can begin to network
and learn from them as well.
Expand your knowledge about all things email marketing by
post on the 25 email marketing influencers you need to
3. Join and interact with ecommerce business leaders in marketing
communities relevant to your niche.
For ecommerce, there are Facebook and LinkedIn groups you can
learn from, among other communities across the internet. There are
also associations dedicated to marketing, and ecommerce has become
an increasingly vital emphasis for these groups.
10 LinkedIn groups focused on marketing technology, for
example. And here’s a list of
15 LinkedIn groups that tackle marketing generally. The
group alone has more than 1 million participants.
On Facebook, many groups spend their time collaborating on how
to market on the platform, but several also are more general
marketing communities. Here’s a list of
17 groups for marketers available on the social platform.
Just like spending time diving into thought leadership, engaging
with like-minded professionals through association events, forums,
and other activities expands your knowledge base. It also helps you
identify peers with comparable marketing challenges so you can
learn from them and avoid potential pitfalls.
4. Get inspired by the email campaigns of brands you admire.
It can be daunting as a small business in a vertical packed with
major brands that have household name recognition. But that
doesn’t mean your business can’t take a cue from one of these
brands or find an idea worth using as a launchpad for your own
successful marketing approach. Yes: You can and should be inspired
by the biggest and best brands in your niche.
Find out how they tick. Look for the ways you can create similar
campaigns. The simplest and most direct way to do this is to engage
them as a customer would:
Join their mailing lists, browse their websites, abandon your
shopping cart, maybe even make a purchase.
This exercise can be thought-provoking because you’ll be on
the receiving end of a reputable brand’s email marketing
You can identify things you want to achieve for your own
ecommerce business, for your own customers—and how you can take
those experiences with a brand you admire and imbue them in your
own email marketing campaigns.
This example is from Chatbooks as they built an
Of course, helping customers preserve memories is the
company’s mission. What’s your mission, and how could your
business take a comparable emotion-inducing approach?
REI created a
marketing campaign that serves up an alternative to Black Friday
shopping that aligns perfectly with its product offerings.
With #OptOutside, REI encourages its own employees and customers
to take outdoor adventures—that ultimately its products and
services are intricately and intimately tied to. How could you
create a similar email strategy that makes your customers sit up
and take notice because it’s not about the direct sell?
Consider the time and resources you spend on the Picasso Method
an investment in developing your business, making yourself smarter
and more creative as an ecommerce marketer.
Remember the four steps are not a one-and-done. Take them
whenever you need to feel rejuvenated and want fresh ideas for your
- Study email templates out in the real world.
- Read and follow leading email marketing resources.
- Join and interact with ecommerce business leaders in marketing
communities relevant to your niche.
- Get inspired by the email campaigns of brands you admire.
Picasso never stopped innovating as an artist—you shouldn’t
as an ecommerce business. From welcome emails to re-engagement
campaigns and beyond, we seamlessly integrate with your ecommerce
platforms—Magento, Shopify, and WooCommerce—so you’ll have
all the features you need to exceed your goals.
CM Commerce features:
- Pre-made conversion campaigns to recover revenue from abandoned
- Follow-up segmented and personalized emails for
- Product reviews that spotlight your happy customers and build
trust (and sales)
- Automated feedback to increase repeat revenue
- Ready-to-go templates or custom receipts, coupons, and rewards
with your branding
The Picasso Method: How to Get Really Good at Email Marketing
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The Picasso Method: How to Get Really Good at Email Marketing Really Fast