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The gateway drug to Hiut Denim was their beautifully crafted newsletters.

They’re so good, James took the step to say “YOU NEED TO READ THIS” and shared them with me. Who does that about newsletters?!

Needless to say, we’ve taken inspiration from them since.

So, how do Hiut Denim smash their email campaigns? Here’s the low down.

And if you haven’t already caught part one (all about creating creative spaces) and two (about the co-founder David Hieatt) in this series, be sure to check them out too.

Hiut Denim Newsletter

One of the real treats of our trip to Hiut was to see the email’s being put together live. A real marketing nerd’s dream.

David attributes much of the success and growth of Hiut Denim to the newsletter. It’s been a vital source of customers for them since the founding of the company in 2012.

Two things really stand out with Hiut Denim’s emails: the simplicity and the creativity. Let’s investigate each.

Simplicity

Hiut’s strategy is remarkably simple: one email per week that sells – another email per week that informs, entertains or puts a smile on the face of their customer base.

In our webinar with David Hieatt, the intention was clear: if you want to sell, sell! If you don’t want to sell, don’t commit to some halfway house where you’re kind of entertaining: entertain!

The message is a simple one but one many of us miss: make the purpose of your email clear and folks will choose to engage with your email marketing if they want to

The strategy is simple and so is the execution: from the subject lines to the layouts.

Creating a great subject lines

On the subject line, Hiut has an easy job coming up with a new one each week: they simply change a number. For as long as I can remember the email has been with the subject line “The Scrapbook Chronicles #X”.

For me as a reader, this provides a reassuring sense of ‘I know what this is, and I know the quality it’s going to be because I’ve seen things like this before.

Now, don’t get me wrong: it’s not an easy trick and I don’t think everyone can pull it off. The same subject line could get boring over time for most brands – but Hiut has built sufficient credits in the bank through consistently delivering amazing stuff that I now trust. The Hiut team have tested this too and found this subject line simply works for them.

The lesson here is to test and learn but also don’t worry about changing the formula too often. If you find something that works: double down!

And a fab layout

In a similar fashion, the layout stays the same too: the headers of the email stay the same and just the content within them changes.

This bought back a memory… my old boss used to drill this into me: “make our emails like an edition of Private Eye”.

He knew if he opened Private Eye to a specific page, there would be a specific feature or bit of writing that he loved the most. Hiut has played the same trick here: while the content changes and there are tweaks along the way, for the most part, the content remains in the same format.

The result of all of this is a two-fold:

  • Simplicity enables consistency. Consistency is important because we’re all busy, and getting into the flow of things is hard. If you already know where you’re starting from: progress is more easily found.
  • Consistency builds positioning. If a company turns up in the same shape each week, customers know what they stand for and build an idea in their mind of what the company ‘is’. That’s branding in action.

Everything about Hiut is geared for maximum efficiency and simplicity. The magic happens when this is mirrored in their campaigns, too.

How to produce a creative newsletter the Hiut Way

The other element that struck me on the trip is the creativity that goes into the creation of the newsletter.

Creativity matters. But, finding it is hard. Eddie Shleyner gave us some unbelievable tips in our webinar with him, but in a corporate environment where there are many cooks, how is it achieved?

Many of Hiut’s customer base are entrepreneurs and people in the creative spaces. To speak in the language that matters to Hiut’s customers: the Hiut team must exhibit that creativity.

The most obvious way this comes to fruition, space aside, is the weekly creative meeting. A meeting I’d heard about but was more than a little excited to be part of!

Each week the team is challenged to bring a single thing they found exciting and present it to the team. It’s the one thing that come hell or high water, the team have in their diaries and does not budge. As well as being a great point in the week for people to come together, the content curated is used for the newsletter that goes out shortly afterwards.

The content bought to the meeting can be anything, so long as it’s interesting to the person bringing it. Something that struck me was how while the team bought around the table were united in being curious, intelligent, and kind people – they were also different in their interests and what each brought to the table. This made for an interesting meeting and also a big win for cognitive diversity!

Sitting in the meeting I was struck by a few things straight off the bat:

  • By having to present to other people, there is an element in personal pride in sharing ‘this is what I have found. Undoubtedly the team has been hired for their standards, but I can’t help but feel in the same situation I would be making damn sure I was bringing my A-game every week if I had to put my name to saying ‘this is great!’
  • As Eddie Shleyner of VeryGoodCopy pointed out in his talk, Parkinson’s Law dictates that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” By making sure the meeting is weekly at 10 – the team has to proactivity seek out inspiration: not wait for perfection
  • Content curation was everyone’s business: not just the marketing folks!

From a marketing perspective, the meeting raised standards, provided content, gave the team joint responsibility for the content, got outside of a marketing bubble and gave the team a consistent point in the week to bond over.

It all seems so simple when you type it, but how many of us have ideas to do stuff like this and then never see it through? The effect was profound!

So where does this leave us?

Hiut’s emails are delightfully simple. That is something that is built into their DNA.

This works from the perspective of creating effective processes such as having one email to sell and another to entertain. However, I don’t think a more complex brand could get away with using the same subject lines and layouts every time in the way Hiut do. That simplicity is part of their positioning and culture.

So, when it comes to creation – the trick isn’t the simplicity of content: the trick is knowing you and your brand well enough to produce something that is representative of how you do things and want to position the company.

Despite therefore being unable to ‘copy’ Hiut’s content, we can take away however is that emails can be a wonderful place for the team to come together and get involved in the marketing process.

The creative meeting was a point of co-creation and clearly something valued by the team.

A regular challenge for marketers is to get the rest of the team on board with your activity, and this felt like a lovely way to do so. The energy for the rest of the day was palpable. When the email went out later that day – it felt like a real team effort.

In that way, email marketing wasn’t just an external win, it was an internal one too. In time, it’s clear that drives up an understanding of what marketing can really bring an organisation.

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