2010 in review – Dominique Hind’s Collective

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health: Healthy blog! The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 4 fully loaded ships.   In 2010, there were 15 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 105 posts. There were 29 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 7mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month. The busiest day of the year was August 10th with 230 views. The most popular post that day was LOOKING FOR AN ASSOCIATE DIGITAL PRODUCER – are you out there?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, withcollective.com, linkedin.com, and en.wordpress.com. Some visitors came searching, mostly for bp, dominique hind, who is using facebook, paperless billing, and apple newsletters


Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


LOOKING FOR AN ASSOCIATE DIGITAL PRODUCER – are you out there? August 2010


Who am I? August 2008 25 comments


How companies are recognising customer’s birthday? Sephora email February 2010 1 comment


Overview of Apple’s email marketing June 2009 5 comments


Who is using Facebook? What are the stats? Check Facebook July 2009 3 comments


What else could Apple be doing in their emails?

As a summary to my review of Apple’s email marketing, there is really only one thing to look at: what else should Apple be doing with their email communications? Overall, like everything Apple does, it works. It is clean, simple and effective.

There really aren’t too many other things they should be doing. I have thought of three things they could be doing more of:

  1. Bundling: Apple have got their product emails sorted, they are clean and very focused, but there is a huge opportunity for bundling. They have started this with the latest uni newsletter. However, they can be doing this with so much more.
  2. Asking questions: Apple have never sent me a survey or asked me how I want to interact with them. I’m getting a combination of messages: software, product and event. I’m happy to receive all types, but they are all dry messages. I want something more. More content or more relevance to help me expand my knowledge.
  3. Tailor content: They know what products I have, but the messaging isn’t relevant to this, ie upgrade messaging rather than buy. Where is the accessories push or up-sell in all of these emails?

The common theme throughout these additions is the data smarts and intelligence. There really aren’t many companies getting that right within this space. Victoria Secret‘s and the other US retailers (Bluefly, GAP) are really pioneering the way. They are able to determine your site activity and marry it back to your data and actions, ie if you leave something in the shopping cart on their site, you get an email letting you know it is still there for a limited time.

Most companies think a blanket email (one email for all customers) is enough. With email being so cheap it means you can test things and really understand what works for consumers. The ideal would be to use email as a test bed before any of the above the line communications goes out. Similar to search, it gives you the opportunity to test real-time what is working with your customers before rolling it out with a bigger budget.

Due to the financial opportunity, I wonder if companies will start to realise this and place more importance on communicating to the customers they already have and using them as a test case before spending millions and millions of dollars on media and creative.



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What are the common elements in Apple’s emails?

As part of Apple’s ongoing customer communications, they send three different type of emails:

  1. Product: specifically relating to a new product launch or upgrade
  2. Software: similar to product, these types of emails relate to a new software launch or upgrade
  3. Event: these emails are around particular times of the year – Post Christmas, Valentine’s Day and return to uni.

Below is a review of each email type and the common themes for each.


Each of the product emails is slightly different, but there are some common elements to all of them:

  • Logo: the Apple logo always appears at the top. It’s only in the MacMini email that the logo appears as part of the computer screen. All other emails it appears either top left (majority) or top right with a lot of space around it.
  • Header: each header contains descriptive product text with a stong, clean product image. The MacMini email is the only one where the product image appears above the text.
  • Header CTA: the header has a strong call to action encouraging the user to ‘BUY NOW’ (in a button).
  • Imagery: each product email has a strong connection to the copy – all very large.
  • Content: under the header, the product content is diplayed in columns. Each column having copy with an image that reflects what is written. The columns vary from 2 to 4, depending on the product.
  • CTA: each email has a clear call to action at the bottom of the email. Replicating the similar format of all other emails: two boxes both promoting purchase – one online and the other instore.
Apple MacMini email - 19 March 2009

Apple MacMini email - 19 March 2009

Apple iPod/Shuffle email - 13 March 2009

Apple iPod/Shuffle email - 13 March 2009

Apple iMac email - 7 March 2009

Apple iMac email - 7 March 2009

Apple MacBook email - 26 Feb 2009

Apple MacBook email - 26 Feb 2009


Each of the software emails is slightly different, but there are some common elements to all of them:

  • Logo: the Apple logo appears in the top left hand corner
  • Header: each header displays the name of the software in a very creative way and ensures the user knows what the email is about
  • Header CTA: the header has a strong call to action within it (button) either focusing on purchase or trial
  • Imagery: the MacBook Pro is used to bring the software to life via three separate computer, each featuring a different element of the software
  • Content: under each of the hero images there is some copy explaining the software. There are only a few lines, which are enough to read before moving down to the software features.
  • Features: the software features are highlighted with an image and then supporting copy. Both emails start with the image on the left hand side with copy to the right and for the next software feature it is reversed (copy on the left, imagery on the right).
  • CTA: each email has a clear call to action at the bottom of the email. Replicating the similar format of all other emails: two boxes both promoting purchase – one online and the other in-store.
Apple iLife email - 30 January 2009

Apple iLife email - 30 January 2009

Apple iWork email - 16 January 2009

Apple iWork email - 16 January 2009


Each of the event emails is slightly different, but there are some common elements to all of them:

  • Logo: the Apple logo appears at the top of the email, either top left or top right
  • Header: each header is a little different, but it heroes the product
  • Header CTA: the header has a strong call to action (button) focusing on ‘SHOP NOW’, which is different to the ‘BUY NOW’ buttons used in the above emails. I’m assuming this is because there are multiple products being communicated in these emails rather than just one.
  • Imagery: strong product shots are used for each email.
  • Content: under each of the hero images there is some copy introducing other products that might be relevant for the user. In the Valentine’s email, all of the content is iPod specific: Shuffle, iTunes Gift Cards and iPod Touch. In the December email, there is conent around the different product categories: iPod, Mac, iPhone and iPod & iPhone.
  • CTA: each email has a clear call to action at the bottom of the email. Replicating the similar format of all other emails: two boxes both promoting purchase – one online and the other in-store.
Apple Valentine's email - 27 January 2009

Apple Valentine's email - 27 January 2009

Apple Valentine's email - CTA

Apple Valentine's email - CTA

Apple Post Christmas email - 31 December 2008

Apple Post Christmas email - 31 December 2008

Apple December email - CTA

Apple December email - CTA



Based on reviewing the above emails there are some learnings that we can take out of Apple’s email communications:

  • Different types of communications: Ensure that you have a framework that allows for more than just product emails. There needs to be a combination of emails that are sent to the consumer. The ideal combination is product and event. Both educating and pushing sales.
  • Set guidelines rather than templates: guidelines have more flexibility than templates, therefore it is important to set some guidelines for your email communications. These should details: logo treatments, header options, use of imagery, use of content, CTA, privacy, etc.
  • Product shots are key: most clients don’t have the budget to do a photo shoot for emails, but maybe they should. The key to all of these emails is the imagery and it’s simplicity.



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The Viral Formula – what works?

Viral campaigns are still the flavour of the month (and year) because clients have the perception that they are FREE or low cost. This may be true for the media component, but any viral campaigns that has a high pass-on effect still needs to be built on a great idea (and with that usually comes a high production cost). Viral campaigns must be stand out ideas for them to gain momentum. Not only do they need to be great ideas, but they must be nurtured. Nurtured to seed the idea out there and ensure that as many people see it as possible.

When I was working at Wunderman, my Creative Director (Jon-Paul Jacques) and I came up with a formula that best predicts the success of viral campaigns:

Viral = (PCF)2, where

  • P = Personal – using your name or personal details in the viral campaign (examples of this are: CSI: NY launch campaign and Mini Have a word)
  • P = Perverse – the politically correct way for saying porn (an example of this is: Paris Hilton burger launch)
  • C = Cool – anything you would be happy to forward on to your friends because you will be seen as finding things first (examples of this are: Mentos and Pepsi experiment, VW Golf and Hotmail launch)
  • C = Carnage – this builds on shows like Australia’s Funniest Home Videos. People love watching others hurt themselves.
  • F = Funny – most funny viral have been publish on YouTube (examples of this are: Trojan Games and Calton’s Big Ad)
  • F = Freaky – anything that makes you question what you have seen or turns your stomach a little (an example of this is: CSI: NY launch)

A viral success depends on the creative idea, but if it has one or more of the following it is more likely to be successful.

Here are some interesting articles on viral:

Viral marketing influence spheres

Viral marketing influence spheres

The things to remember about viral:

  • Must be a great idea
  • Viral doesn’t necessarily mean free
  • Nurture the campaign to get it out there.

Written by Dominique Hind

Campaign set-up vs maintenance: what’s a fair split?

As an industry we are stuck in the ‘set and forget’ mentality. As soon as a campaign goes live, we all quickly pat ourselves on the back and move on to the next campaign, only thinking about the campaign when there is downtime (not often) or the campaign is close to finishing. The reason for this is that often there is no consistent process or methodology behind implementing a continuous learning culture. Unless maintenance/optimisation is ingrained in the people working on the campaign, it really doesn’t happen.

To try and change this mentality (both within the client and internally at the agency), we have recently introduced a 80:20 split with our clients. From their overall campaign budget, 80% is dedicated to the initial set-up of the campaign and 20% is dedicated to the ongoing maintenance/optimisation. Ideally, the split should be 60:40, but until we can prove the benefits, 80:20 is a good start.

What’s included in campaign set-up? Set-up is the initial campaign creation. It’s the awareness generating elements (online advertising, offline advertising, 1-to-1 advertising, social networking) and the engagement elements (microsite, corporate landing pages, stores).

What’s included in campaign maintenance/optimisation? Maintenance/optimisation is any updates made to the campaign after launch. It’s the creative optimisation to the awareness elements (rotation and testing of all executions – online being easier and quicker to test and understand results) and results optimisation to the engagement elements (content structures based on search results – both externally and on the site, creative testing and rotation.


To make sure this is a success, the following need to be considered:

  1. Owner – there must be an owner within the agency to drive this. The best person to do that is either a Data Director or the Account Director. Equally, there needs to be an owner on the client side. Someone who understands the numbers (ROI, CPA, CPC) and the need for making campaigns a success.
  2. Benchmarks – initially, there must be some targets or benchmarks set. Over time these benchmarks will become more realistic after campaign data has been collected and analysed. During the first campaign period, it is critical to ensure that the benchmarks are revisited and molded to reflect the results.
  3. Consistency – all communications (reports, results) must be delivered in a consistent manner: same time frame, format, benchmarks and structure. This will help the client and agency to understand recommendation, requirements, improvements and work more seamlessly together.
  4. Relevance – any recommendations made within maintenance/optimisation must be relevant to the client and the campaign. The recommendations must also be achievable within the remaining budget.
  5. Budget – to ensure the maintenance/optimisation budget doesn’t disappear to fund additional media or other creative ideas, it must be included in the original estimate and signed off by the client. This ensures that the campaign will be remembered and not just put on the ‘set and forget’ shelf.


The set-up/maintenance strategy is extremely important, particularly now with the current economic downturn. The best and worst thing about interactive is it’s accountability and we can justify why we recommend doing things and what the direct impact is on our clients results.

Written by Dominique Hind.

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