Versatile e-newsletter from H&W provides competitive edge for commercial real estate client

Case Study by Bob Hambly RGD, Creative Director at Hambly & Woolley


Carolyn Laidley Arn is a sales representative working for Lennard Commercial Real Estate in Toronto. In an ongoing effort to keep clients and potential clients apprised of commercial real estate opportunities in the GTA, she approached H&W to create an e-newsletter for her consultancy. She was looking to establish a digital presence that would deliver valuable and timely information, set her apart from competitors and be versatile and user-friendly enough for her to produce herself. Carolyn has a long-running relationship with the design community and knows that well-designed communications make a strong impact.  



Timeline: Less than two weeks 



Carolyn stays in touch with a wide audience that includes existing clients, creative tenants who are looking for unusual spaces, designers, architects and executives who are interested in the commercial real estate marketplace.


Concept / Design Process

Based on our client's requirements, we felt the best approach would be to design and develop an e-newsletter template using Campaign Monitor. This product provides a template language which allows developers to create reusable "layouts" within HTML eBlasts. H&W prefers Campaign Monitor for the majority of its email campaigns and those of our clients, as the template language and editor are incredibly easy to implement and use. 


In the case of the template for our client, we created layouts for various coloured tabs and stories. Once the template was installed in Campaign Monitor, our client could build a newsletter (without the need for her to do any coding) by adding the layouts we'd developed from a drop-down list. Copy and images could then be inserted into the layouts using a simple WYSIWYG editor. An easy-to-respond-to consent button was incorporated into the e-newsletter as well, making certain that Carolyn was in compliance with Canada's new Anti-Spam Law



The first e-newsletter went out to 3,500 subscribers from Carolyn's contact list. She intends to send out a new issue every 1-2 months with relevant updates and news for her audience.


Regarding subscriptions, a mechanism for new contacts to self-subscribe has yet to be implemented. Because Carolyn does not have a personal website, the solution may be to use one of Campaign Monitor's embedded solutions, i.e. a pop-up or online form that would live on a page hosted by her real estate agency. The budget for this project did not cover responsive design for viewing the newsletter across multiple screen sizes. 


Another design consideration involved integrating connection points to Carolyn's other communication platforms. By incorporating links to her Twitter and LinkedIn pages, the newsletter makes it possible to share content and connect with her in other ways. 


As this is Carolyn's first time implementing an e-newsletter with this format, there is no data available to compare it to previous campaigns, but analytics such as open rates and click-throughs of the newsletter are now being tracked through Campaign Monitor, making it possible for Carolyn to get a sense of what type of content / messaging is generating the most interest for her audience.




"My industry is extremely competitive and it's hard to differentiate service providers – Hambly & Woolley gave my e-newsletter a distinct identity that shows my personality and professionalism. I'm a hands-on person and this design allows for modular versatility, easy assembly and easy distribution. It enables me to create a consistent and professional looking product on my own and has helped set me apart." - Carolyn Laidley Arn 


Designer Takeaways: 

  1. Simple and clean always works – as long as you have a clear understanding of the content and hierarchy of information.
  2. Always design something that is appropriate for your client. In this case, something personable, friendly and informative – all of which complement Carolyn's approach to business.
  3. Strive for design solutions that help to uniquely position your clients.

Client Takeaways: 

  1. Provide as much information as possible to allow the designers to grasp the challenge.
  2. Be bold and trust the process and the professionals.  
  3. Remain open to new ideas – this allows the designers to come up with their best work. 

Interested in submitting a case study to appear on the RGD website? Download 'Guidelines for Contributing Content' and email