Mailjet Monday: Charles Collas

If you’re are regular at tech meetups in France and across Europe or if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you have probably already met with Charles Collas, developer evangelist at Mailjet. This week, we sat down with this former Starcraft 2 player to learn more about his job and his special profile. Because Charles is also a student.

Mailjet Monday- Charles Collas

Your profile is quite unusual: you work at Mailjet, but you’re also a student. How did you get here?

Apart from being a part of the Mailjet team, I’m studying programming and computer engineering at EPITA, a graduate school of computer science in Paris. I’m in my fourth year (of five). The school teaches us coding languages like C, C++, Java, which are not really Web-oriented. I wanted something new (and Web-oriented!) so I started working on websites as side-projects, as a freelancer.
I discovered the developer evangelist job on different blogs and tech websites that I follow regularly. But I really got the taste of what it could be thanks to Shubham, who is also a student at EPITA. It’s also thanks to him that I discovered Mailjet!
What does a typical day look like for you?
One of the aspects of the DevEv job is that there no such thing like a “typical day”! It all depends on the differents missions I’m assigned. As a developer evangelist, I have to engage with the developer community around Mailjet: we offer them an open-source REST API. I also attend a lot of events (conferences, hackathons, meetups) where I get a chance to connect with visitors and answer their technical questions.
 But sometimes being a Developer Evangelist can be a desk job. When I’m in the office, I usually start checking my emails and monitoring my notification alerts with Mention. Then, I log in to the DevEv team Trello account, which we use to work on and coordinate various projects: I’m mainly involved in developing and maintaining code wrappers, updating our API documentation and writting blog posts.

What’s your favorite Mailjet moment?

 Among my favorite moments, there are of course the huge events I’ve attended abroad (recently, I’ve been in Italy, in Portugal and in Sweden). Before joining Mailjet, flying abroad for just a few days wasn’t exactly a habit of mine!
I also remember the Ecommerce Salon in Paris. It’s one of the main events of its kind in France, so the whole Mailjet team was involved: DevEv, of course, but also our sales and marketing teams. It was very cool to see everybody in action.
And, of course, I always appreciate the afterwork drinks we sometimes have with fellow Mailjeters!

What’s your favorite coding language?

I’m hooked on PHP. It’s the language I know best, the one I used when developing websites as a freelancer. So obviously, I’m in charge of the Mailjet PHP wrapper. Although not everything written about PHP is positive, it still exists. As an example, Facebook is mainly written in PHP, and it’s a technology they invest a lot in.

Recently, I got interested in NodeJS, which is JavaScript on the server side. I use it on side projects for the moment. Soon I’ll also be managing the new Mailjet NodeJS wrapper, which will reimplace the one we have right now.

Why did you choose to become a Developer Evangelist instead of a developer?

Being a DevEv is the best choice for a young programming engineer who wants other opportunities than just being a developer. When you have spent five years studying programing, you want to make sure that all your knowledge sticks. As a developer evangelist, I use my technical knowledge, but also my communication skills, my ability to meet and talk to new people, so it’s a very rewarding and varied job!
Furthermore, Developer Relations are often associated with the startup world (Twilio, GitHub…). For the last few years, startups in France have seen huge developments and growth. Working for a startup yourself, you really feel being part of a dynamic ecosystem! Thanks to that, we can stay a step ahead on the latest innovations.
You can follow the events attended by Charles on his Twitter account and check his different side-projects on GitHub. And to keep track of the activity of the Developers Relationships team at Mailjet, follow this Twitter list!

Why You Should Let Your Inner Email Beauty Shine

We’re just about a week from December, what some would consider the official start of the holiday season. You’ve likely received a few promotional emails in your inbox already: gift guides, holiday style ideas, recipes for dinner parties…I’ve gotten them too. For email marketers, the pressure is on to come up with witty, clickable subject lines. There’s so much focus on monitoring what your competitors are saying, plus topping the subject lines that have driven high open rates in the past. At a certain point, it’s time to look beyond the subject line and focus on what’s within. Instead, let your inner email beauty — your content — shine. Here are three reasons why:

Play the long game

While it’s true that the subject line is your customer’s first point of contact with your email and what will ultimately drive them to open it, the content is what makes a lasting impression. Focus on consistently delivering highly relevant, interesting content to your subscribers and you’ll build up your reputation and earn their trust. Subscribers will then be more likely to open your emails regardless of its subject line. Having a catchy subject line is simply the “cherry on top.” They’ll be looking forward to what they can take away from what’s within.

Fit for all screens

No matter how hard you try (unless you keep it to two or three words), your subject lines will likely be cut off by the preview in different browsers or devices. There’s more space to work within the email body. The content inside the email is arguably more responsive than the subject line.
To make the most of the responsiveness of the “inner content,” use ALT text and be mindful of the fold. ALT text is a kind of html safety net for your email images: if by chance a certain browser or email client cannot display an image, the ALT text will show in place of it, with a short caption.
The fold is where the preview of the content ends and you need to scroll down to read more. While the above-the-fold area of the email body provides much more space than a subject line does, be sure the content here is enticing enough to make readers continue to scroll.

The real money driver

Ultimately, your goal is to drive your emails onto your website or to interact with your product in some way. Compelling content is is your email call-to-action, which will directly drive customers to another platform where you can continue to interact with them. It’s the real revenue driver.
As Plated’s Emily Grant brought up recently during our Hacking The Inbox panel, marketers should be mindful of tracking click-to-open-rates (CTOR) in addition to the open-rate, their more popular counterpart. CTOR will measure the number of subscribers that opened and how many clicked. While it varies depending on the type of business and/or campaign, a general rule of thumb is that 20-30% is a good CTOR for promotional campaigns and 30%-40% or higher for triggered campaigns.
Now, get back to working on your campaigns and hopefully you’ll remember to stop “judging an email by its cover.” It’s the inner content that counts.

Email Marketing for Online Retailers

After getting involved in several events destined to online retailers, it seemed interesting to write this White Paper. The paper goes back on the main discussion topics that drew attention during the course of the several talks we held.
Who is this paper for?

This paper is destined to online retailers as well as any person interested by e-mailing: no need for technical knowledge or coding skills! Our purpose is to provide keys to achieve simple and quick e-mailing optimisations.

Many people are interested in this channel: major online marketing endeavours used by advertisers are e-mailing (for 88% of them) and e-newsletters (for 74% of them). Amongst all the tools online retailers have at disposal, e-mailing is one of the most popular. This is namely due to its efficiency, as well as the ability it offers to closely monitor the ROI.

What will you find in this White Paper?

This White Paper is divided into 3 parts: you can read it in the order, from the beginning to the end. Otherwise, and according to your level of knowledge, you can directly go to the part you are interested in:

  1. Reminder of the context and a few basic notions online merchants should know in order to be efficient in e-mailing endeavours: indicators, key elements at stake…
  2. A few suggestions to improve your campaigns as of today. It is not necessary to wait for huge volumes in order to start optimising!
  3. Examples to understand: practical cases of optimisation.

WiPi changing up The Internet of Things at HackCC

Just wanted to give a quick shoutout to team Node WiPi from HackCC this past weekend.  Not only did they win Mailjet’s API prize, but they also took home the gold for the overall competition.

 

WiPi changing up The Internet of Things at HackCC1

Node WiPi, inspired by one of the team member’s brother’s basement flood incident,, is an inexpensive sensor monitor (moisture, light, heat, etc) for  the home.
Using an array of Arduinos, sensors, a handful of inexpensive radio sensors, and their computer as a server, they were able to rig up a network of monitoring stations that would record pertinent data around the clock.  Home owners can then, utilizing Mailjet’s Parse API, send an email to the system to check the status of different sensors.  Upon receiving the email, the system, utilizing Mailjet’s Send API, sends an email reply detailing the status of each sensor (check out an example below).  The cool part here is that each box changes color depending on its status.

WiPi changing up The Internet of Things at HackCC2

WiPi is an excellent addition to the Internet Of Things.  I’m excited to see more projects like this at future hackathons. I’ll be sure, as should most of you, to be on the lookout for updates to come from WiPi on this project!
In the meantime, check out some of their project on github.

 

Want to learn more about our Parse API?  Check out this deck about use cases and how to implement!

Animated content: your emails come to life for the holidays

Just like how Santa is always looking for new ways to deliver presents (because, let’s be honest, who still maintains an operational chimney when you have central heating), email marketers are always looking for new ways to improve their campaigns. Email is constantly evolving, and to keep track of and stay ahead of the trends, you have to test different strategies.This holiday season, after having exhausted the usual tricks over the past year (static images, personalization, different colors and displays…), why not try something fresh? Why not bring your holiday emails to life with GIFs and videos?

Until recently, animated media was frowned upon

Why haven’t email marketers used something as obvious as GIFs or embedded videos sooner? After all, animated GIFs have been trending since the second half of the 2000’s, thanks to Tumblr or platforms like Buzzfeed. Two main reasons:

 

First, this “different” kind of content was considered as a red flag by most ISPs and webmail clients. The thought here is along the same lines as image-only emails: ISP and webmail client spam filters are only able to “read” text content, meaning they can’t detect potentially fraudulent content in videos or GIFs. Although now, there are a few tricks you can implement to put yourself on a good light and not look like a bad email marketer or, worse, a spammer.

 

The second were technical limitations. Until recently, it was hard to make embedded videos look good. In some cases, they didn’t even display at all. Now, thanks to HTML5, this is no longer a problem. This code reads clearly to email clients, so not only will they understand you and your message legit, but they will also adapt to the video to the best format to be displayed. Add to this point that more and more email clients recognize allow animated content to be displayed.

Why we recommend you to use them now

Figures show that emails with videos drive a 280% higher ROI 280% than traditional emails. Eye catching, animated emails (GIFs) tend to generate 25% more clicks than their non-animated counterparts. However, despite these very attractive statistics, marketers don’t use animated content in their emails very much (¾ have never embedded videos, while about ½ of them have yet to use animated GIFs).

 

Here are three tips to keep in mind if you want to start building animated HTML emails today.

 

1 – Go HTML5

HTML5 is a game changer when it comes to video in emails. As mentioned earlier, with HTML5, email clients will be able to recognize you as a “white-list” email sender (assuming you’re following all best practices) and your videos will be responsive with most major browsers and screen formats. But it also allows you to display a static image in the case that a certain browser can’t display your video or GIF (kind of like the ALT text of video) Here are some handy online tools you can use to convert your videos to HTML: Video Online Converter, Easy HTML5 Video,Freemake Video Converter… Many more exist. Choose the one that will meet your expectations.

 

2 – Don’t be too invasive

This one’s obvious, but you don’t want to rub your contacts the wrong way. So go easy with the GIFs: don’t overuse them! If your entire email is moving around, it will be hard for the recipient to find the call to action, much less read the content! We recommend using one or two relevant images instead. And, please, if you embed a video, leave the autoplay option off. Let your users choose how and when they will play their content.

3 – One last tip for the road

We’ve established that videos and animated GIFs in emails are cool. But they are even cooler when they help drive a higher ROI or higher click-through-rates! So be sure your videos and GIFs have clear and clickable call-to-actions to a website where customers can learn more bout your product.

Now that you have thee keys to dominating the animated email game; make your emails come to life this holiday season!

 

Want to define your email strategy to win customers over this holiday season? Check out Mailjet’s Ultimate Guide To Holiday Emailing.

Holiday Emailing Guide

Rendezvous-ing at the First Ever Product Hunt Hackathon

We recently got back from Product Hunts inaugural hackathon.
Originally launched in San Francisco (PH headquarters), the event was open to public so that anyone interested could leverage the brand and host a hackathon. Sylvain from Algolia, jumped on the opportunity and asked if we Mailjet, would be interested in sponsoring a Paris edition – which we did without hesitation! Stripe, Parse,SketchFab, OpenDataSoft, Etalab and OAuth.io followed as well. The Family generously offered to host the event in their space.
I joined the Mailjet team just 2 weeks ago, so it was a perfect occasion to meet other startup employees and developers, wearing my new hat.
The event kicked off on Friday night with a  quick meetup where Ryan Hoover, CEO and co-founder of PH dialed in live from SF, recapped the background of this event and thanked everyone who came for this unique occasion. Shortly after, the classic hackathon pitch session started and teams were formed. Brainstorms quickly followed to model around the original idea.

Rendezvous-ing at the First Ever Product Hunt Hackathon1

On this first night, I met with each team to learn about the hack they planned on building, give feedback and offer any help I was able to provide. Most teams were well balanced (meaning each had at least one business / design / developer) which was great since it meant almost all teams would be able to build a functional product by the end of the weekend.

Rendezvous-ing at the First Ever Product Hunt Hackathon2

On the second day, the rollup was deployed and we had bags full of fun swag to distribute (our Mailjet eye masks definitely came in handy for this overnight event).
I decided to meet with all the teams once again. When I arrived back at the center, I was disappointed at the number of teams in the building. Had everyone given up? Numbers had significantly dwindled from the night before… Turns out everybody was just hard at work in the many conference rooms the Family building has to offer (if you’ve never visited their offices before, you should go!).
The ideas pitched on the first day surprisingly remained the same (which is great IMO!), a few new teams arrived the morning of the second day as well, bringing the total number of projects up to 10. One of the teams which was originally without a developer on the first day, was lucky enough to find one to help code their idea into reality.
I really enjoyed hopping around the teams, helping out with technical issues but also just being there for teams to bounce their ideas off me.
On Saturday night, we decided to end the event earlier than scheduled, mainly due to a logistical issue with the building management – but it actually worked out for the better, letting people rest and regain their energy for the next day. Until midnight, teams had been hacking away at their projects and begun to feel the pressure of the final demo coming in less than 24 hours.

Rendezvous-ing at the First Ever Product Hunt Hackathon3

Here I introduced one of the teams to Mention’s API, a perfect match for their needs.

The next day, I was back in the hall in the afternoon, a few hours before the final demo session. I did my ritual round of checking in with the teams and helped out as much as I could in the final stretch (including bringing around “potion magique” aka coffee). All of the teams were fired up and ready to rumble for the final round.
At 7 pm, the last commits were pushed to Github. People started flooding into the building to  to listen to and learn about the hacks built over the weekend. The idea for PH Hackathon was that instead of the usual judging process, the panel of mentors (Pierre-Edouard from IdInvest, Alice from The Family, Gaetan from Algolia and I for Mailjet) would give constructive criticism and review the building process. No business models were discussed (which was hard for Pierre-Edouard from IdInvest): the only focus was having fun with running demos!
10 pitches and a lot of creativity later, we were all very impressed by the high quality of the hacks. It was a tough decision! Ultimately, we awarded RendezVous, the largest team of the hackathon with first place. They built a mobile app that helps you find the best exhibitions in Paris. SmashTheKitty followed in second, an app that saw many laughs from the crowd. Their toy invention seeks to revolutionize interactive stuffed animals of the 80’s. Hit the stuffed animal and it’ll interact with certain online sites and apps. The team used an Arduino-based controller, to detecting hits and connected this to Zapier (very smart choice, since it opens a wide network of possible integrations). Last but not least, in third was Nomaad, an app that helps you search for cafés to work at based on Wi-Fi quality ratings.
In addition to the overall prize, we also decided to give out a special Mailjet prize based on creativity. RendezVous being the superstars they were, also went home with the first place Mailjet prize: 1 year of our Silver Plan.
To top it off, we’re really proud that RendezVous was also featured on the PH Hackathon Finalists page among finalists from all around the world and upvoted to the top! From an organizer’s perspective this was extremely fulfilling to have watched them reach this level of exposure.
Overall, I was very impressed by this event and the process was very rewarding, considering it was a side project and group effort of all the sponsors (with limited energy and resources). Truly lots of hustling and shared entrepreneurial spirit here.
I’m hoping to see a second PH Hackathon very soon! If you couldn’t make it out to our hackathon, catch up on it over on The Family – they recorded the entire session!
Want to learn more about upcoming events? Don’t forget to follow me and Mailjet on Twitter!

Mailjet Monday: Judy Boniface

Mailjet Monday- Judy Boniface

Happy Monday! This week, we sat down to chat with Judy Boniface, CMO of Mailjet. Over the past few months, Judy oversaw the rollout of our product update (with features including A/x testing, campaign comparison), the redesign of our website and has quickly picked up speaking almost fluent French. Prior to Mailjet, Judy worked with social enterprise and tech start-ups in West Africa for two years on strategies and operations.
What does a typical day look like for you?

My day starts on the train. I star important emails during my morning commute – any email I can’t respond in less than 30 seconds will wait until I get back into the office. When I do arrive at the office, only a few hours of the day are spent at my desk. I review acquisition figures from the day before, urgent requests that came in over the night, the remainder of my emails and then head off to the phone booth.
Most of my days are spent in the phone booth since I manage a pretty international team. We have offices in New York, Berlin, London, Canada… the list goes on. Being international expands our skill sets and talent pool. It also gives us the edge of being global minded, being able to better relate to our customers at a local level.

 

Tell us about your favorite Mailjet moment.

It’s less of a moment and more of a tradition. We always kick off our weekly marketing team meetings with a funny Youtube video. It’s important to take 5 minutes out of your day to just have a good laugh, unwind and clear the mind. These videos have helped us a lot in busier weeks and act as creative inspiration before our brainstorm sessions.

 

What are some of your favorite marketing apps/organization apps?

I read TechCrunch religiously to keep up to date on latest products and apps. Another tool I heavily rely on is Boomerang. I can “boomerang” emails to reappear in my inbox at a later time when I can dedicate more time to answering, or I can schedule my email to send according to the time zone of another office.

 

What’s on the radar for Mailjet in the next few months?

World domination. Haha! More seriously, we’re aiming towards improving engagement with our customers through various channels. We’ll be growing externally in that sense and also looking to grow internally – growing skills within the team and looking for talent to complement the skillsets we already have at Mailjet.
As mentioned earlier, we’re a truly international company and our growth trajectory is different than most traditional paths. We started off with many small offices across the globe at an early stage and international input has fueled and shaped our growth. I’m really looking forward to seeing this model continue to expand over the next year.

 

Where do you see email going in the next few years?

Email will be ultra-personalized in the next few years. With all the services and products that we sign up for, email is a source of identity. There is a variety of information tied to our email address and this will be leveraged by brand and product makers to better understand what your needs are and what type of communication will speak best to you. The more we interact online, the smarter email will become over the next few years.