Marketers featured include MAC Cosmetics, Verizon, Virgin Atlantic, Volvo UK, Zappos, Apple, Anthropologie and Esty.
Of the 20 companies featured in the Look Book, only three were Responsys clients. "This isn't 'let's rah-rah our own work,'" notes Chad White, research director, Responsys Inc. "We want to find inspiration out there and give credit where credit is due, and tell a story about where email design is now."
The emails chosen for the Look Book do a good job in capturing tried and true design fundamentals, notes White.
One great example this year was Minted.com, which demonstrated the power of layering elements, and using images that are slightly askew to create texture. The result draws the reader's eye through the entire body of the email.
"It looked like things laid out on a table, as opposed to everything very neat," notes White. "When things are very askew, it seems more organic."
Of course, the book also highlights oncoming trends to showcase where the world of email is going. This year, lots of emails featuring mobile, personalization and triggered messages were highlighted, with a focus on more cross channel friendly communications.
"I feel like a lot of brands are going to be caught off guard," says White. "The pace of people switching off to smart phones is happening at such a rapid clip—two years from now, that will at a point where people can't ignore it anymore."
Going forward, what this means for email designers is creating messages that are ambidextrous, to accommodate the most common mobile denominators.
A great example of this showcased in the book was from Volvo UK. The email was only 360 pixels wide and featured lots of small screen sized bites of information, while still looking good on a desktop.
An email from MAC Cosmetics promoting its Wonder Woman product line took full advantage of the graphic appeal of the comic book art, while offering a mobile-friendly interface that worked in any inbox.
The Best Buy entry gives an excellent example of how to use personalization, with an in-store purchase triggering a post purchase email offering installation advice and upsells on accessories, says White, adding that the LinkedIn entry also takes advantage of the data the site has on users.
"Pretty much the entire email is personalized, from the greeting to the number of connections the member has who have changed jobs," he says. "I haven't seen anything else approaching this level of personalization."
While several international marketers have been represented in the book—there was one email from Iceland this year, as well as representatives from Canada and Brazil last year—White says the US is way ahead of other countries, with the UK not far behind.
Representatives from Responsys offices in the U.S, the U.K. and Australia submitted around 100 emails for consideration. While there weren't a lot of contenders from the Asia Pacific region, that is likely to change, given that mobile devices are more common than desktop computers with many consumers, meaning email design will have to accommodate the smaller screens.
A pdf of the Look Book can be downloaded here.