Ask an Ad Pro: What Creative Trends are Worth Following in Email and Web Design?
This quarter, as we consider creative trends in 2018, what better source to consult than our own Creative Directors — Erica Rowe (Design) and Sarah Whipkey (Copy)? We pulled them away from their work just long enough to pick their brains about what makes websites work, email campaigns profitable and social media campaigns stand out these days.
Not surprisingly, both of these industry pros agree that the best creative work is grounded in an awareness of the audience it targets.
What trends are you seeing in website design? What elements of web design are timeless?
Sarah: “When you’re designing a website for the first time or redesigning an existing site, you need to know what main action you want visitors to take. Is it to donate? Apply? Read about a certain project or blog post? We are always thinking about how to help people flow through the site to achieve that purpose.”
Erica: “Sometimes businesses have a sense that their website looks old or outdated and come to us for a re-skin, but a redesign is an opportunity for more than just a new image and copy. Any website redesign project should be approached as an opportunity to re-examine the entire site from a conceptual level.
“Optimization needs to be considered. Trends in color and design should be discussed. Above all, businesses need to go back to the beginning and decide what purpose they want their website to achieve and determine how well their current site achieves that purpose. Will a new homepage image and services page copy get visitors to take the actions you want them to take?”
Sarah: “Purpose is timeless. Effectiveness is timeless. Making it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for quickly will never go out of style. Wix commercials have everyone thinking they can design a website, but websites that win awards are designed with purpose by professionals.
“A site can be complex or incredibly simple, as long as it is thoughtful in its look and tone. If there’s any trend that we’re seeing from websites of the past it’s simply that people are overwhelmed. Any copy you put on a page has to be meaningful. Here, we use digital audits to reveal relevant key terms that we can then weave into creative headlines packed with features and benefits.
“You are going to be judged the hardest on your website because it’s the window into your brand. If someone is intrigued by your digital ad or billboard and takes the time to find you online, your brand message better be communicated clearly or you are going lose the opportunity to win their business.”
How are people applying color in website projects today?
Erica: “When you’re trying to decide which color scheme is best for a website, it helps to ask whether the colors you’ve considered accentuate your message or tone or clash with them. If you’re positioning your brand or business as thoughtful, for example, neon colors might not work. Any trend, color or otherwise, needs to be right for your category, industry and customers, otherwise, it is not worth implementing.”
Sarah: “I’d also add that unless you have a big budget or are running a large campaign that drives people to a temporary site, you can make your marketing dollars go farther by creating a site that looks good and does what you need it to do. If you want to stay up on the latest trends in web design, you’re going to have to change your website frequently and invest a significant amount of your marketing budget to do so. If those trends don’t impact your customers’ purchase decision, then you can spend your money more wisely by creating a solid website that looks good and most importantly, converts visitors into customers.”
Let’s leave web design and move on to the topic of email campaigns. What email trends are you seeing in 2018?
Sarah: “Marketing is no longer B-to-B or B-to-C. Today, it is human-to-human. In email campaigns, pre-header text and subject lines can be more important than the design of the email. When we craft email subject lines and body copy, we use rhymes, trending lingo and even emojis. I mean, who doesn’t love a good emoji when used effectively? These are humans after all…and if they click, we’ve won half the battle.”
Erica: “When it comes to designing an email or email campaign, you can vary the number of sections, incorporate video or gifs, include multiple ‘click to learn more’ buttons, and use color and photos in a meaningful way. Every email is different, so I encourage designers to think about the customer journey for each email and add elements that make the most sense for that particular email or email campaign.
“I think the most important thing for businesses to remember is that there is always an opportunity for everyone to be interesting. You don’t have to be conventional just because your industry trends that way.
“A/B testing is an excellent way to push the boundaries of your own comfort level and test new and entertaining email ideas. Today, there are more capabilities available than ever before. You can add animated gifs and other elements to the main image of an email to create greater engagement levels.”
Brands are using social media to ‘unbutton’ their corporate images a bit. What are some techniques or tactics you’re seeing businesses use to connect with younger generations of consumers?
Sarah: “For us and probably for most marketers, you need to be willing to be edgy. If you want to be noticed you have to stand out and that means stepping outside of your comfort zone. You also need a decent budget. Some businesses still think of social media as a free channel where you can put up any kind of content and instantly create a robust organic following. Today, social media is a pay to play proposition.”
Erica: “Experiential creative is the latest marketing buzzword, and while it can be harder for service industry brands to execute well, we’ve seen success by exploiting the intersection of trade shows and social media to generate traction for businesses.
“If you’re willing to be a bit edgy with a trade show exhibit, you have the potential to get people talking and following your brand on social media because of it.”
As this conversation with our ad pros shows, while it’s important to know what the latest trends are for website, email or social media projects, creative for the sake of being creative doesn’t make sense.
Creative executions grounded in research, however, can gain attention from your ideal audiences and win the respect of your peers.
Are you redesigning your site? Do you need a strategy for an effective email campaign? Could you use help establishing a presence on social media? OBI is here to help with all of those needs and more. Contact us now to start a conversation about your next project.
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