In-Depth Tutorial: “You Are Invited” Email Spotlight Framework

The Old Farmer's Almanac Gardening Club

Who doesn’t want to feel special? And when it comes to email marketing to sell your products and services, treating prospects specially can make all the difference in how they perceive you and your brand—and, most important, whether they will buy from you!

With this Template Tutorial, we’ll review the “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework that uses a special technique to grab prospects’ attention and lead them to a purchase. “Spotlight” is the Mequoda term for types of email sends that are fully marketing-focused—shining a “spotlight” on a particular product or service for sale. And we have a bevy of frameworks that have proven successful in selling all sorts of products and services.

OFA Email Spotlight sample

Here, we’re featuring The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s version of the “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework—an email marketing effort that offers prospects to join the Almanac’s Gardening Club.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac is a venerable brand, part of the Yankee Publishing family that includes Yankee Magazine. And with publishing since 1792—when George Washington was president—The Old Farmer’s Almanac is the oldest continuously published periodical in North America.

While continuing to publish print materials, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, like many other legacy print publishers, has found success with digital marketing methods—and the “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework is just one effort that has helped the Almanac boost revenue, profits, and—especially—customer retention.

Now, let’s take a look at The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s version of the “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework, and we’ll rank it based on our checklist of core components that can help connect with prospects and make the sale!

Email “From” Address

OFA From email address

One of the first things anybody looks at when receiving communications of any kind is “who is this from?”—whether it’s a postal letter, gift package, phone call (caller ID tells you who it is), or an email message, the sender of the communication helps create a first impression and reaction on the part of the recipient.

When you’re a large and known brand such as The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the job of being recognizable to the recipient is easier. Plus, publishers following Mequoda’s best practices for audience development and subscription marketing such as The Old Farmer’s Almanac only use highly qualified and opted-in email names for Spotlight marketing efforts. So, no cold-prospecting with Spotlight emails—the prospect pool is already aware of your brand and has agreed to accept email communication from you.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac does the job well with this component of the “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework by identifying their brand in the display name and including the full email address that divulges their connection to Yankee.

Testing Ideas

To help further boost the personal nature of the “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework—and without omitting the power of the brand—testing efforts can include adding a real-live person to the display part of the email “from” section. This can help the prospect realize that the communication is a one-to-one message and can help initial engagement by getting the message opened. Example: “Janice Stillman, The Old Farmer’s Almanac.”

Email Subject Line

OFA email subject line example

The number one job of the Email Subject Line is to grab the attention of the reader and get the message opened. And writing compelling Email Subject Lines can be more challenging than you think—especially when trying to avoid getting pegged as SPAM and delivered to recipients’ junk folder. Or worse, getting blocked by any Internet Service Provider (ISP).

We’re fans of a free online tool that rates your subject lines based on a variety of criteria, including length, urgency, personalization, possible SPAM terms, etc. Try using www.subjectline.com, a handy tool for creating and refining your Email Subject Lines and ensuring you meet basic industry standards. The Old Farmer’s Almanac subject line scores 92 out of 100—not bad! This online tool guides you, with commentary and advice, about how to improve any subject line to get a perfect score of 100. And while this tool isn’t 100% perfect, it’s a great way to become more disciplined about developing your subject lines.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac Email Subject Line for this effort begins with an emoji that is a depiction of a ripe tomato, representative of the Gardening Club invitation that this offer makes. Sometimes, having eye-catching emojis in a subject line can help the message stand out in the clutter of anyone’s inbox. And the copy in this subject line conveys the personal nature of the offer—that the recipient has been “chosen” (making them feel special!).

The Old Farmer’s Almanac earns points for their Email Subject Line!

Testing Ideas

There are lots of ways to test subject lines, and making them more direct and personal is a great way to further convey the personal nature of this “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework. Examples (all score 100 out of 100 with the free online rating tool):

  • You are invited today!
  • “[FIRST-NAME PERSONALIZATION], you are invited today!”
  • Your invitation awaits your reply!
  • RSVP now and claim your invite!

Email Pre-Header Text

OFA email preheader

First, what is Email Pre-Header Text? Many marketers forget about or ignore this important component of any email message, at their peril! Email Pre-Header Text is the brief copy that appears after a subject line when emails are viewed in your inbox. For both desktop and mobile devices, Email Pre-Header Text gives readers an idea of what’s inside the email message before they actually open it.

And, like the Email Subject Line, the Email Pre-Header Text has a job—keep readers engaged and get them to open the message. So, the copy must logically be connected in some way to the subject line—because it follows the subject line—and should be appealing to the reader.

For the Email Pre-Header Text in The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s version of this “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework, the personal nature of this invitation-style offer is effectively presented. Plus, the specific offer—to join the Gardening Club—comes with a 43% discount. That’s pretty appealing for anyone interested in gardening!

And like the old Twitter rule of 140 characters, we like to keep Email Pre-Header Text to fewer than 140 total characters, including spaces—otherwise, longer copy might simply be truncated by any email client. Force yourself to this 140-character rule here, and you’ll be sure to convey only important aspects of your message. The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s Email Pre-Header Text in this effort is 121 total characters—perfect!

The Old Farmer’s Almanac nails it with their Email Pre-header Text!

Testing Ideas

You have a bit more space for copy with the Email Pre-Header Text (compared to the subject line), so there are more testing opportunities. Examples (all are fewer than 140 characters, with spaces):

  • Deadline approaching: Claim your invitation now!
  • “[FIRST-NAME PERSONALIZATION], your 43% discount awaits you.”
  • Attention Gardeners: One-of-a-kind club for you!
  • Charter membership offer, with 43% discount, just for you!”

Spotlight Nameplate

OFA Spotlight nameplate example

Like the email “from” name and display, the Spotlight Nameplate at the top of the email body is important for reinforcing your brand and conveying to the reader who is sending the message.

And with Mequoda systems, we recommend identifying the segment or type of email in the nameplate, so that any user can manage their email preferences back at the website with a corresponding segment that is clearly named—this strategy helps avoid global opt-outs and is much more user friendly.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac doesn’t identify the “Spotlight” type of message with their version of the “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework, and we recommend adding it to the nameplate to match the email preferences segmentation.

Here is an example of another marketer’s email nameplate for Spotlights—G2 Intelligence is a publisher of materials for diagnostic clinical lab professionals. Note the graphic treatment of a spotlight shining back on the copy:

G2 Intelligence Spotlight nameplate

There aren’t any real testing opportunities with the Spotlight Nameplate—in fact, it’s best to settle on a treatment and stick with it. Consistency is your friend with this component!

The Old Farmer’s Almanac passes the test on the Spotlight Nameplate, even with room for improvement.

Spotlight Headline and Sub-Headline

OFA Spotlight headline and sub-headline example

For The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s version of this “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework, the Spotlight Headline and Sub-Headline follow best practices:

  • The headline tells readers “You’re invited…”—good move for the “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework!
  • The headline divulges to readers what the invitation is all about: “Gardening Club”
  • The headline makes an appealing offer: “43% Off a Charter Membership!”
  • The headline is a hyperlink to the corresponding order page back at the website.
  • The headline is formatted to set it apart—bold and red—and to make it apparent that the copy is a hyperlink (underlined).
  • The sub-headline reinforces the offer and explains that it’s “exclusive.”

All in all, these components work well for this “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac gets the job done with their Spotlight Headline and Sub-Headline!

Testing Ideas

Testing headlines and sub-headlines can be important parts of a continuous-improvement email marketing program. Best ideas here involve dramatically different copy that follows the same formatting rules—bold and red with hyperlink for the headline. Examples:

  • Headline: Exclusive Invitation: You are invited to join other select gardeners in our Gardening Club—43% discount with your Charter Membership!
  • Headline: R.S.V.P Now: Your invitation to join our Gardening Club awaits you—big 43% discount for you when you act today!
  • Headline: Your invitation is about to expire! Act now to join our Gardening Club, and get a 43% discount with your Charter Membership!
  • Sub-Headline: Your invitation expires at midnight tomorrow—please act now while seats are still available … and this 43%-discount offer is in effect for you!

Spotlight Images

OFA Spotlight image example

In The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s version of this “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework, the images presented convey the variety of products that are included in the Gardening Club, with the classic 2021 edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac front and center! Other items are clearly geared for gardeners, and the diversity of the products—both print and digital (with the Extra! shown on a tablet)—are well presented.

BONUS: The image is a hyperlink to the order page for the Gardening Club!

The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s scores with their images in this Spotlight!

Testing Ideas

Testing ideas for Spotlight imagery should include widely different treatments—to get breakthroughs, you have to test things that are dramatically different. Tweaking this component might result in incremental gains—or losses—so swinging for the fences is best. Examples:

  • Try an image that represents a club logo, vs. the club’s product components.
  • Try imagery that represents a typical member in action—someone in the garden working the soil, for example, in the case of this Gardening Club offer.
  • Or try varying the images throughout the Spotlight, to correspond with the copy.

Spotlight Salutation

OFA Spotlight salutation example

The salutation can be an often-overlooked component of email marketing—when you just plop an ad into an email template, readers know that. When you take the time and care to write to readers in a more personal way—like the “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework demands—you have a better chance of connecting with prospects and getting them to read your whole message, and hopefully acting to buy!

In The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s version of this “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework, the salutation seeks to connect with the reader as a “fellow” gardener. Good job!

The Old Farmer’s Almanac scores again with a relevant and engaging Spotlight salutation!

Testing Ideas

Testing ideas for Spotlight salutations can include personalizing it or flattering the reader. Examples:

  • Dear [FIRST-NAME PERSONALIZATION],
  • Dear Expert Gardener,
  • To any gardener who cares about beautiful and bountiful plants,

Spotlight Body Copy

Now, the real “meat” of email marketing efforts is all the copy and image treatments throughout the body of the message. Here’s a review of each section:

Introduction OFA Spotlight introduction example

Right after the salutation, this Spotlight begins in an engaging way—and leads the reader to the indented paragraph where the invitation offer is made, complete with a hyperlink to the order page.

Plus, the 43%-discount offer is repeated and reinforced.

General Benefits

OFA Spotlight general benefits body copy example

Right after the introduction, the general benefits of joining the Gardening Club are succinctly presented in bullet-style format.

Specific Benefits OFA Spotlight specific benefits body copy example

Now, the copy gets into very specific benefits and outcomes that will result from membership in The Old Farmer’s Almanac Gardening Club. Presented in easy-to-read bullet-style format, these items are specific plays at connecting with readers and prospects for membership.

Description of Product Components

OFA Spotlight product components body copy example

Next, readers get a full list and descriptions of all the components of the Gardening Club—that way, it’s crystal-clear exactly what each member will receive. In this case, there are six detailed bullets that cover each component of the Gardening Club.

Offer Review

OFA Spotlight offer review copy example

This section is a clear and concise summary of the offer, complete with all the math to detail how this special invitation amounts to a 43% discount.

OFIEs and Calls to Action

OFA Spotlight OFIE example

OFIEs—Mequoda terminology for “Order Form In Editorial” (OFIE)—are ads that appear within the body copy, as interruptive elements that highlight the product and the offer. And OFIEs always include calls to action buttons and links, so prospects can quickly get to the order page to place an order. OFIEs are a combination of benefit copy, offer copy, and imagery.

And best practice is to include OFIEs about every 300-400 words within body copy, so that a reader will always see one when scrolling—especially important with long-form copy.

Finally, we also include an OFIE after the final copy, just below the P.S./P.P.S.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac follows best practices with their Spotlight body copy!

Testing Ideas

Testing ideas for Spotlight salutations can include personalizing it or flattering the reader. Examples:

  • Introduction copy—repeat the invitation offer right in the first sentence: “You are special, and you are invited to join an exclusive club of committed gardeners.”
  • Try using urgency copy such as “This invitation expires in 48 hours.” Or “If you don’t respond, we’ll have to give your spot to someone else.”
  • Test the OFIE: Try testing OFIE headlines, copy, and imagery—it can make a difference!

Spotlight Closing and P.S.

OFA Spotlight closing

Testing Ideas

Testing ideas for the Spotlight Closing and P.S. can include further personalization and easy ways to order. Examples:

  • Try inserting a handwritten signature for the signer of the email message—for security reasons, it’s alright to use a computer-generated script-like font vs. the person’s actual signature.
  • Include an order-page hyperlink somewhere in the P.S. or P.P.S. copy.

Summary

Bingo! The Old Farmer’s Almanac has performed well with their version of the “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework, gaining more members for their Gardening Club and boosting revenue, profits, and retention.

Here’s a review of The Old Farmer’s Almanac checklist performance for their version of the “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework:

Mequoda’s “You Are Invited” Email Spotlight Checklist

Element Criteria Done?
Email “From” Address Connect with your readers!
Email Subject Line Make the case to open the email.
Email Pre-Header Text Convey the sense of the offer.
Spotlight Nameplate Good brand reinforcement.
Spotlight Headline and Sub-Headline Make offer and benefits compelling.
Spotlight Images Show off your product.
Spotlight Salutation Make a connection!
Spotlight Body Copy Craft a compelling message.
Spotlight Closing and P.S. Finish off with a personal approach.
Put a Call to Action in your P.S.
OFIEs and Calls to Action OFIEs every 300-400 words.
Calls to Action throughout.
Every screen should have an order page link.
Test, test, test! One element at a time!

Bottom Line: If you want to boost revenue, profits, and retention—just like The Old Farmer’s Almanac—take a page out of their playbook and test your own version of this “You Are Invited” Spotlight Framework today! You’ll gain more paying customers, clinch more sales, and boost your brand affinity, too!

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