eCardFAQ’s: Everything you need to know for JSA eCards!
Each year, JSA is pleased to offer our Holiday (or any other occasion!) “eCards”— electronic animated cards, custom designed to our clients’ preferences. Want to learn more? Explore some of our most frequently asked questions, with answers.
- Our company has traditionally always done printed cards. Why should we consider an electronic card?
Animated cards allow for a more meaningful, memorable message. Additionally, most email campaign platforms let you track statistics such as opens, click-throughs etc. Finally, the time and cost for eCards can be significantly less than for printed, signed, addressed, and mailed (SNAIL MAIL) cards.
- How do we start the eCard process?
We start by brainstorming ideas. Should the tone be serious? Playful? Heartwarming? Funny? Clever? What will the message be? What kind of imagery? Step one is to define the concept. Once a concept is established, the next step is the “storyboard.”
- What is a storyboard?
A storyboard is similar to a “flip book” with a series of pages that show the key stages of the animation. For video animation, the storyboard is typically sketches that show general framing and cropping for each scene. For illustrative animations, the storyboard is often created in Adobe Illustrator, and eventually used for the actual animation. All text for the eCard is included in the storyboard.
- How is the animation created?
After the storyboard is finalized, the eCard will be shot (if filming video) or animated (if it’s an illustrative design). Various applications are used including Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Flash, Adobe After Effects, and others. The eCard is edited and programmed as necessary, and uploaded to a server.
- How are eCards sent?
A static “teaser” graphic is embedded into your outgoing email that entices viewers to “click to watch,” and links to the animation. How does this happen? Well, as a first option, JSA can provide our email marketing services – which allow us to use our email campaign platform to prepare and distribute the campaign to any of the lists that you prefer, and provide you with full reporting on open and click through rates, as well as email bounces, replies and unsubscribes. A second option to utilize your own email marketing service, or incorporate HTML into your email browser, by following your email program’s instructions (i.e. Gmail, Outlook).
- Why do we need “click to watch?” Why can’t the animation play right in the email?
Email applications don’t tend to support complex animation. At most, some will display very basic animated GIFs. Your eCard will ideally need to be hosted on a server.
- Who hosts the eCard animation?
Its best if the animation’s URL is consistent with your firm’s website, for marketing and branding reasons. For video files, we recommend uploading the video to YouTube or Vimeo, and creating a page on your website to display the video. Non-video animations should be hosted on your server.
- How come some eCards will not play on iPhones?
If the animation was programmed in Flash, an alternate version (typically video) needs to be created for iPhones and iPads that do not support Flash. Special “sniffer” code detects the viewer’s device, and sends them to the appropriate version. Because of this, JSA actually designs our eCard animations using HTML5. HTML5 is a markup language used for structuring and presenting content on the World Wide Web. It was finalized, and published, on 28 October 2014 by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This is the fifth revision of the HTML standard since the inception of the World Wide Web.
- How long does it take to make an eCard?
It depends on the complexity of the card, and your firm’s review process. We usually recommend planning for 4-6 weeks.
- How long should the animation be?
Most people prefer to watch animations that are two minutes or less. After that, people will stop watching. We aim for a minute, and less is really more.
- How can we personalize the eCards?
We recommend you use your email blasting service to add personalization to the outgoing email message. If specific individuals at your firm want to email to their client list directly, they can do so using Outlook or whatever email application they prefer. Of course, doing so will limit trackability and increase the possibility of duplicates being sent to the same recipient.
- Can we send printed cards as well as eCards?
Yes! Absolutely! Send the eCard to your entire list, including clients, prospects, and vendors. JSA can also a similarly themed printed card to send to your top contacts, and allow you to handwrite a message inside each one. We recommend hand-addressing each envelope and using stamps, rather than a postage meter. Nothing beats a personal note.
- How do we know our eCard is really GOOD?
If you can make the viewer laugh, or smile, or say “Awwww,” you’ve succeeded.
Contact [email protected] if you are interested in e-cards ANY time of year (not just for the holidays!) 🙂