We had the privilege of being in an enviable place for over a decade, looking after, the marketing and advertising for some of the most prestigious brands in the country. Some of the world best creatives walked through the doors of clients: Liberty, Next, The White Company and a host of others. Highly professional marketing companies each vied in gladiatorial competition to ply their trade, determined to out-perform, and best their peers. Some of these people went onto become stars and demi-gods of their respective disciplines, be they directors, art directors, graphics designers and top commercial talent too.

Every design of email was devised, mused over and deliberated on in the most finite minuscule ways possible, down the the devastating impact of off centring an image to secure psychological advantage of an otherwise lost application of brain function. The rank and file graduates of today aspire to emulate these people, many of whom have become household names, top of the empires over which they now reign. Their time was not wasted; often the sales, as a direct result of their efforts, were phenomenal for respective clients. We are talking billions of pounds in sales.

Today’s A – B testing of email design and layout often regurgitate the thousands of designs we had to good fortune to test, and better test across calendar, hour, product and sometimes client alike. Across our desk came the stats by which ego’s came and went. “Tomorrow’s child” was always perceived as the ‘new great hope’, and on many occasions it was, but for an all too short a while.

Our company perhaps has an unfair advantage,being in the right place at the right time. It has been able to use millions of pounds worth of work and effort by people, at the top of their profession, for one purpose. There was one design that out-performed all rivals for its ability to deliver the greatest possible return. Whenever it was used, in whatever guise, it won, nothing came close. Indeed it’s next nearest rival only performed half as well, if it was lucky, over ten years of testing.

It is this stylesheet which, as ambrosia to the email industry, has it’s heritage firmly established in the bluest of blue-blooded culture. There is of course always a grain of sand to irritate and cause the catalyst to this most beautiful pearl. Each retailer respectively, without exception, and on multiple occasions simply “didn’t like it”. Headline, lead item big photo, 6 x displays, classifieds, and thinking outside the box further – 3 “like” products with client logo at the end, is “…old-hat. Surely it needs beefing-up, or refreshing in someway”. This common cry set the wheels in motion and off we went again, on another round, only to eventually compare the results from the young pretender against our stalwart champion. All too often it fell at the first. The stats simply showed what did and what didn’t deliver. That cruelest of lessons, the champion survived. No one knows exactly why it always won, but we have a good idea. Whether it’s the simplicity of the design, the ease by which the human eye glides across it, or the exact visual impact to product content, no one knows for sure. But inevitably CEOs, Marketing Directors and Ecommerce Managers alike, in turn stuck to what delivered them the highest sales and greatest profitability.

What of today? Well we do allow our customers to greater personalise their stylesheet should they wish. But by far the majority appreciate if someone else has already done this much work, tested and better tested it, and found no greater champion for delivering such massive turnover, from a stylesheet that works, why mess with the perfect solution?

David Swift

David Swift is CEO & Founder of SwiftERM

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