Use the Psychology of Reward This Holiday Season

Ever read about classical conditioning? You know, that experiment made famous by Ivan Pavlov where he trained dogs to salivate every time they hear a bell ring? This psychological phenomenon has been proven effective on humans as well and is the basis of many teaching methods. The idea is simple: take a neutral stimulus like the bell and associate it with an unconditioned stimulus (salivating) through rewarding the behavior. This little study has big implications for your marketing strategy.

It’s likely that you positively reward your customer on a regular basis, through beta tests, promotions and sweepstakes, but do you train your customers to engage in a consistent way? Apply classical conditioning to your email campaign program to reward customers who are active social sharers and reinforce that behavior. The goal is to drive a cycle: your customer opens your email, reshares the content on social media, bringing increased exposure and more email sign-ups from their immediate social circle.

This is not to say that we condone subliminal messaging or are reducing your customers’ behavior down to a lab study, we’re just encouraging you to optimize your natural marketing cycle that already exists. Here are some ways to tap into this:

Track engagement beyond the direct line of sight

If you’re not doing so already, start by making sure you build links to all of your social media channels into your email templates. Then, track the engagement funnel of your email campaigns. Which channel are customers clicking through to the most? But also look “beyond the click”. Most senders will just analyze the click through of their call-to-action, as in Toms’ email below, senders will track how many clicks the “Cold Weather Shop” and “Gift Guide” drove.

Also take into account how many people clicked through the gift guide and shared the link on social media. If you’re using Google Analytics in supplement to your Mailjet stats, look into setting up Advanced Segments to filter a customer’s journey after clicking through your email.

 

Untitled drawing

Make them feel special

Once you have the data filtered out, segment new email contact lists by level of social media engagement. Keep in mind that the avid Twitter user spends their time online very differently than that of the heavy Facebook user. Twitter is geared more towards news and trending topics whereas Facebook is used for connecting with closer social circles and playing games. One idea is to send “VIP” social sharers exclusive content. This can be a promotion, beta test or even a free t-shirt which they can snap a photo of and share. For example, for being so attentive and reading up to this point of our blog post, we’ll ask you to tweet “I’m a frequent flyer on @mailjet’s blog! #MJmilehighclub

At the end of the day, the strategy is simple. Just keep in mind your neutral stimulus, the email, and the unconditioned stimulus, social sharing. By rewarding your customers through special offers and targeted content, they will grow into strong brand advocates.

How do you see this playing into your holiday campaigns this season? Which strategies do you plan on executing?

In With The New, Out With The Old: 2015 Resolutions

With just a few days left in 2014, have you started setting your New Years resolutions? No worries if you haven’t given it any thought yet – we’ve rounded up the top 5 common resolutions below.

Before jumping back into the groove of things, be sure take some time to review your past year’s data and set email (and personal) goals for the year to come. From watching your (email) diet, to re-engaging inactive customers, we’re looking forward to seeing improved content, communication and ROI.

What’s Your New Years Resolution for 2015?
Get in shape (cutting the fat out of email content)
Make more money (set goals, drive higher email ROI)
Manage stress (build out an email calendar)
Catch up with old friends (re-engage inactive customers)
Distance yourself from negative people in your life (delete inactive and bounced email addresses from contact list)

 

Flight School Fridays: Take Your Email To The Butchers (HTML)

How to prevent your emails from getting clipped by Gmail

Have you noticed that some of your emails have gotten a chunk bitten out of them when you receive them? Well it’s because Gmail and some mobile clients now clip emails for faster display. Gmail does it in order to load the emails faster and provide a quicker service. However this can mean that as a sender, you may not be engaging your customers properly.

Why does Gmail clip emails?

Gmail shortens HTML emails which are larger than 102KB by showing the first 102KB and clipping the rest. It will in return provide the reader the following message and link which by clicking, displays the rest of the email. The message varies based on what device you’re using.

On a desktop:

 desktop

On an Android:

mobile

 

At the moment this function is turned on for all Gmail users on desktop browsers, iOS (mobile and tablet) as well as Android devices, without the option of being able to turn it off. This issue is something that has concerned some Email Senders and is also quite annoying for email recipients.

 

So what’s the problem?

A couple of major issues which have risen because of this new functionality are for one, the user not being able to see the ‘Unsubscribe’ link in the email, which could lead them to moving the email into the abyss of Spam folder. This will give the sender a rise in spam reports and ultimately a bad reputation.

Additionally, the reader won’t get a chance to see the call-to-actions of the email and will miss out on whatever wonderful message the marketers were trying to put forward.

And lastly, it’s just annoying. Who has the time to click each email one extra time? If you’re receiving 50 emails a day and you skim read most of them, then that’s 50 extra seconds you’re wasting per day. That’s nearly 5 hours a year Google is taking away from our lives!

 

How to fix it

If a large amount of the customers on your contact list are Gmail users, you may want to send your emails to the “butchers” before releasing them into the world. You should be redesigning your newsletters to be responsive, yet simple. Here’s some tips on how you can do that.

Additionally you can shed some bytes by getting rid of additional images which can be replaced by text (please note, reducing the size of your images will not be effective here as the actual images are hosted on your email platform. You’re only inserting the code to display the image in the email). Whilst on the subject, don’t for your image Alt Text when uploading pictures to your emails. This is very important for your ‘text only’ readers!

You can trim further by getting rid unnecessary spaces and returns.

Are you looking to send emails this holiday season? Check out our Ultimate Holiday Email Sending Checklist.

 

 

 

Open Source Christmas: Give A Little Code

It’s kind of hard to avoid the festive spirit at the moment, even if the mind wanders, there’s still the legion of extremely stylish Christmas jumpers to remind you. We all know it’s better to give a gift than to receive one (I might make an exception for wine…), so it was fitting that Codebar.io managed to sneak in a day for coders of all abilities to contribute to open source projects with 24 Pull Requests.

If this all sounds like a club requiring mystical handshakes, I’ll start off with a little background.

What is a pull request?

These days we are lucky enough to have Git for version control when we write software, or any other project that constantly changes .

Git helps us keep track of changes to our code and files by taking snapshots of a project, when you tell it to, so that we can compare to previous versions, especially when we break something…

It’s also clever enough to allow lots of people to work on the same projects at the same time, through code repository hosting services like Github. One of the best things about Github is the ability to “fork” a code repository (or “repo” if you’re feeling hip), making a personal copy that you can modify.

If you fix a bug or made an improvement, you can submit a ‘pull request’ to the original repo owner to merge your code in. The outcome? Lots of people helping on open source projects, and a warm fuzzy feeling.

Even Governments can get involved!

alphagov
 

What is 24PullRequests?

The idea behind Open Source code is that anyone can contribute to it, improve it, provide documentation and suggest feature requests. For anyone who is struggling to think of any they use, the list is a long one, including WordPress, Firefox, Ubuntu, have a look at your computer, there’s at least one thing in there.

24 PullRequests was started by Andrew Nesbitt to help people give back to projects over ‘the advent calendar season’. It started out as a single page, but is now a home to a host of projects needing help, or just a bit of a polish (600+ projects at last count), the aim being to submit a pull request a day. You can hear a little more, well, quite a lot more HERE.

So began a collaborative hack day, kindly hosted by GoCardless in London. We had almost a 50/50 mix of mentors and coders. Codebar is a great initiative, providing free coaching workshops in the basics of web development, aiming to help women, LGBTQ and people who are underrepresented in the tech industry learn in a relaxed environment.

Not just that, but they definitely spoilt us for breakfast:

 

breakfast
 

Fully fueled, those itching to get going did so, and for those just starting out on the path, there was a great introduction to Git by Alex Pounds, with no code, just some Shakespeare in the examples, which definitely made my day.

Post literature and Git lesson, the chatter subsided and we all got to work. It looks very serious, but it was fun, blame it on my photography skills… That’s also ‘action blur’ for style too…

bad pic

[Look! People coding excitably! actually, lets use the picture below, courtesy of @teabass, as it’s better…]

 

thirdimage

We definitely couldn’t claim hunger was a factor as we had food from Pronto, healthy and tasty, delivered to within inches of the keyboard and to power us through to the close (beer time) after a lot of pull requests. Bearing in mind the timezones involved, I’d imagine some people woke up pleasantly surprised.

There’s only 8 days to go before 24PR hangs up it’s stylish festive jumper, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the festive spirit next year too.

Hi, It’s Rupert, Your Inbox Manager

Last week, I flew to New York to visit Mailjetters there, especially Tyler, our US Developer Evangelist.

It was a great week of catching up in person and meeting fellow developers in the New York startup scene. There could not have been a more perfect way to end my week than to participate in the TheNextWeb Hack Battle with Tyler. This 36 hour hackathon was held at Alley NYC to kick off the main conference later in the week on Wednesday 10th.

On Friday, we started brainstorming project ideas for the weekend. We wanted to build something with our API but we also wanted something fun, catchy and useful.

After a few intensive hours of brainstorming, we decided to build a Do Not Disturb system, similar to the one that iOS offers, but for email. This system should act as a proxy in front of your inbox, holding your emails when you don’t want to be disturbed while transferring them immediately if important, based on the sender – like your boss or girlfriend – or keywords in the subject and body.

On Saturday morning, we arrived at the hackathon, pumped and ready to hack for the next 36 hours. The event started by a quick introduction of the event’s sponsors: Mashery, Deezer, Sinch and Sendgrid.

Since our idea was already in place, we hit the ground running with the important step of the hackathon project: choosing a name. With the help of Tyler’s friends, we found a name for our new buddy; Rupert (thanks Pete Lucatorto!).

Next came deciding which stack we wanted to hack with. While we’re always looking to learn new things at these events, our focus of the weekend was to innovate with Rupert, so we chose to go with Node, a language that both Tyler and I were familiar with. As a Developer (Evangelist), you have to be polyglot, well-versed in multiple coding languages. To facilitate the bootstrap of the project, we used MEAN – MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS and NodeJS.

In terms of Mailjet’s API, our Parse API was a natural choice to use to process any e-mails forwarded to Rupert.

Day 1

Our first day was dedicated to building the first running version of Rupert.

First, we specified and implemented the bot’s interface:
on [whitelist] [hours], to enable Rupert in your inbox, while continuing to receive whitelisted emails (based on sender or keywords) or flush them at pre-defined hours.
Format of whitelist is a list of words, separated by commas. For example: urgent,api@mailjet.com
Format of hours is a list of hours, 24-hours, separated by commas. For example: 11:00,17:00
off, to disable and flush all the emails held
status, to get the Rupert’s state (on/off) and the number of emails it’s currently holding
give n, to ask to Rupert to flush the “n” oldest emails while keeping all others
help, to list all of the above commands

To have Rupert to take care of your inbox, all you need to do is set-up a simple Gmail filter (or any other email client will work as well) to have all emails skip the inbox and automatically forward to Rupert. Only emails from Rupert will show in the inbox. You can also share Rupert’s email address with family and friends to have them directly email Rupert.

Once enabled, Rupert processes all of your emails with our Parse API in MongoDB, stores them and sends them back to you, accordingly to the interface defined above.

Day 2

The second day was dedicated to polishing the flow, sending confirmation emails in response to each command (using our Send API, of course!) and pinging contacts to let them know there might be a delay in your response (simultaneously inviting them to use Rupert) and preparing our demo.

Pitches followed at the beginning of the afternoon. 11 projects made it to the finals. Rupert got great feedback, judges loved the idea, the name and the use case of an email Parse API. Tyler and I had also a great time working on this project and getting to know everyone at TheNextWeb Hackathon.

While Rupert is not yet ready for public use, you can follow our progress on Twitter and stay tuned for updates!

Rupert’s code source is also available and free to be modified at http://github.com/mailjet/rupert, under the MIT license.

Love this project? Have some other cool ideas for Rupert? Let us know in the comments below!

Email Controlled Christmas Tree

‘Tis the Season

IMG_1652Ho ho ho! ‘Tis the season to be jolly and give. Not only this, but ’tis also the season to build some dope Christmas themed hardware! Here at Mailjet, we decided to put together a Christmas tree that has lights and an LED dot matrix (acting as the star on top) that is controlled via email through our inbound email processing API – Parse API. Want the lights to be blue? Email christmas.tree@mailjet.com with the commands and it will change! Want a beautiful gold star displayed on the dot matrix at top? Email that in the subject line and it will update!

In this post, I’m going to give a step by step guide for amateurs in the hardware game on how to wire the components, upload the software, and have a fully functioning email controlled Christmas tree of your own.

 

Want to see one in action before making one of your own?

Hop over to our site for the live feed and a list of current commands. Email your commands to christmas.tree@mailjet.com and watch as it applies your updates in real-time. Here’s an example of how to send your commands:

email-example
 

What you’ll need

Hardware
Here is a list with all of the links where to purchase:

image

I purchased all of my components from Adafruit. They are super reliable and provide libraries for most of their hardware and breakout boards.

I purchased the Christmas tree on Amazon. I choose a 2ft tall one, seeing as it would be in an office. For this height, I figured 2 meters should suffice. Also, I found that 30 LEDs per meter was a good amount for this height. If you wish to have more lights on your tree, I would get the 60 LEDs per meter strip . Keep in mind, this will increase the total cost of your project.

The microcontroller I used is the Spark Core. The reason I picked the Spark Core is that it is Arduino-like and has a built-in WiFi module. To access the Spark Core via WiFi, all you have to do is declare a function, the endpoint to call it at, and Spark Core will execute this function when a POST request is done to the endpoint. It’s super easy, very efficient and so, it was the logical choice for this particular project.

Once you get your Spark Core, head on over to their getting started page. This will give you a brief overview on how to use it. Essentially, you will need to make an account and connect the Spark Core to your local WiFi. Having the Spark Core connected to WiFi is essential for this project, so make sure this is working before beginning.

After acquainting yourself with the microcontroller, go to their Web IDE. There, you will find two essential codes you will need to communicate with the Spark Core – your “Device ID” and your “Access Token”. Without these, you will not be able to change the lights on the tree.

Software
You’ll need four essentials:

I have consolidated all of the software you need in this Github repository so you can get your tree up and running as quickly as possible. Simply clone the repo, initiate Mailjet’s Parse API, get the server up and running, and upload the software to the Spark Core.

 

How everything will interact

You may be asking yourself how this whole thing will play out in real-time. We will essentially have four pieces of technology interacting with each other, much like a game of telephone. One piece gets information from the previous, manipulates it a bit to make it easier for the next piece of technology to understand, and then dumps this data onto the next piece, all the way until we have LEDs changing colors!

mailjet-christmas
First, a person will send an email to the email address you have associated with Mailjet’s Parse API. Mailjet’s Parse API will then receive this email, dissect it down into it’s individuals components (to, from, subject, body, etc.), and then dump the contents of that email onto the web server via a POST request. The web server then takes the pertinent information – the commands – from the the body of the email, performs a bit more logic and formatting before it sends them over to the Spark Core via another POST request. The Spark Core receives the information and executes the functions defined in it’s firmware for changing the LEDs, the dot matrix background, and icons depending on the commands it has received.

 

Wiring

First, I will explain how to wire the LED strip and the LED dot matrix. Then, I will explain the Spark Core software that controls each of these. Then, I will explain how to setup your Mailjet Parse API instance. Last, I will explain how to setup the web server that will accept the emails from the Parse API that then communicates with the Spark Core.

 

LED Strip

First thing’s first, place the Spark Core in the middle of the your breadboard. To keep with consistency, make sure the “+” lines are always to the left of the “-“.

image (1)
There will be four wires coming out of the LED strip: one red, one white, and two black. The black and red wires on the left-hand side are the ground and power, respectively, lines for powering the strip. The black and white wires on the right-hand side are the ground and logic wires, respectively, for the updating the colors of the LEDs on the strip. Basically, the ones on the left make it light up and the ones on the right change the colors.

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Insert the exposed wires for the power into the female end of a male-female wire. Next, insert a jumper wire into each of the logic wires.

Now, connect these to the board as such

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So it should now look like this:

photo
The LED strip requires a bit more power than the onboard power supply can handle, so we will use a dedicated power supply for both this and the LED dot matrix. As per adafruit, use the following equations to estimate how much amperage you need:

lower limit for minimum Amps = number of pixels *20 mA1000
upper limit for minimum Amps = number of pixels *60 mA1000

For our, case we have:

lower limit for minimum Amps = 60*20 mA1000=1.2 Amps
upper limit for minimum Amps = 60*20 mA1000=3.6 Amps

So we need 5 volts and anywhere from 1.2 amps to 3.6 amps. Good news is that we have a power supply of 5 volts and 10 amps. (Don’t worry that we have 10 amps. The LEDs will only take as much current as they need. It would be a voltage higher than 5 that could damage them.)

 

LED Dot Matrix

Flip the dot matrix over to have a look at it. There will be a few in and out pins, but we only need two for this tutorial – logic and power. The other is for hooking up tandem dot matrices.

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First, we’ll setup the logic wiring for the dot matrix. You should have a grey cable with many holes to insert wires into. It looks like this:

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Each one of these holes corresponds to some portion of the logic that will make the dot matrix display and light up in different patterns -the amount of red/green/blue in a pixel, the timing, etc.

Using the red strip on the grey cable as a guide and always keeping it on our left hand-side, here is what each hole does and where it will wire on the Spark Core:

sm6N-Aqc8e-C3rHN7xAfUQg

Inserting the wires into their respective slots, it will look like this:

photo (2)

I suggest wrapping this piece in electrical tape to avoid any unintentional pulling and loosening of wires.

Now that we have all of the logic wires in place, let’s hook them up to the Spark Core on the breadboard. Here is the updated diagram from before:

sWQ25NppRMH8jIN7tRWJ9Tg

Here is what it will look like in person:

photo (3)
Now, connect the other end of the grey cable into the the back of the dot matrix in the port that says “IN”.

photo (4)
Connect the power cable into the back of the dot matrix and plug it into the breadboard. Here is what it will look like and updated wiring diagram for this:

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sZ1L5X4EE1AeL7UYN2DS_Gg

Powering

Let there be power! (Note: during this portion, leave the power supply unplugged when wiring to the Spark Core)

photo (6)The LEDs and the LED dot matrix require their own power supply. Because of this, we will use a 5 volt 10 amp power supply. In order for this to play nicely with our Spark Core and other components on the breadboard, we’ll use a female DC Power adapter.

 

photo (7)Plug the adapter into the output of the power supply, insert one wire into the positive terminal and another into the negative terminal. Tighten the screws on top with the “mini”ish screwdriver to keep them in place. I also recommend wrapping this junction in electrical tape if possible, to avoid unintentional wire pulls.

 

Plug the positive wire (red) into the “+” on the breadboard, and the ground wire (black) into the “-” on the breadboard.

IMG_1644

In order to protect the LED strip, we will connect a capacitor across the “+” and “-” on the breadboard. When doing this, have the long wire coming out of the capacitor in the “-” and the short wire into the “+”.

IMG_1645
To tie everything together so that all of the components – Spark Core, LEDs, dot matrix – are on the same page, let’ connect the Spark Core’s ground to the “-” strip. The resulting wiring diagram is now:

Email Controlled Christmas Tree

The wiring should be all ready to go. You can plug it in at this time, but don’t expect anything to happen just yet because we haven’t uploaded any firmware to the Spark Core.

 

The breadboard – solderless vs permanent PCB

I would recommend prototyping and testing on a solderless breadboard first. Once you know the wiring is correct, I would move it over to a more permanent PCB (printed circuit board). The reason I say this is because these are lights on a Christmas tree, and such decorations always present a fire hazard. To take extra precaution, solder it and apply electrical tape to all exposed wires before placing everything on your tree.

 

Uploading the Firmware

If you haven’t done so already, go ahead and clone the Github repository to your computer. To do so, open your terminal, navigate to where you want to store this project, and use the following command to make a copy of the project onto your computer:

git clone https://github.com/tylernappy/email_controlled_christmas_tree.git

Open up the project in your favorite text editor (sublime, atom) and open the file – tree.ino – which contains the firmware (aka software) for the Spark Core. The easiest way to upload it to the Spark Core is to create a new app on the Spark Core’s online IDE, copy the code from tree.ino, and paste it in there, otherwise, you can use their IDE based on the atom text editor. Then, hit the “lightning” icon to upload the firmware. On the screen, it should say at the bottom – something along the lines “uploading code, please wait.”

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If for whatever reason an error pops up saying there is a library that isn’t included, you can go in and add them manually by clicking the libraries icon, searching for the SparkIntervalTimer library and the Adafruit_mfGFX library and click “INCLUDE IN APP”.

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s45SYCnlLS-mU4_QDCKPVtw
I have written the firmware to turn the lights and matrix on when the Spark Core starts up. If you see this happen, the Spark Core firmware has been uploaded correctly.

 

Web Server

To start off, we will host the web server on your local computer for testing purposes. Once all of kinks are worked out, we will push it up to Heroku where your app will live in the ether of the internet!

Since you already have the Github repository cloned on your computer, go ahead and open up a new tab in your terminal, and “cd” in to the Rails server that came with it using the following command:

cd christmas_tree_server

Now, run the following command to run a local server:

rails server

At the moment, only you can access this web server from your computer. This won’t work for us, seeing as we need Mailjet’s Parse API to access your computer. To solve this, we’re going to open up your computer through local tunneling via a service called ngrok (if you don’t already have this set up, go to their site, download, and acquaint yourself with the service).

Open up another another tab in your terminal, “cd” to where you downloaded ngrok, and use the following command to open a local tunnel on your computer to port 3000, which the Rails server defaults to:

./ngrok 3000

You will see the following screen – this is the URL to access your server:

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For this particular case, the server is at http://3cbc1861.ngrok.com. Write yours down as you will need it when setting up Mailjet’s Parse API. For the rest of this tutorial, I will use http://3cbc1861.ngrok.com as the server URL but remember to use what ngrok gives you, otherwise Mailjet will deliver the emails to the wrong URL! Specifically, we have the web server accepting POST requests from the http://3cbc1861.ngrok.com/email_processor endpoint. If at any point you wish change the logic in the web server before the information is delivered to the Spark Core, you will find that in app/controllers/change_lights_controllers.rb.

 

Pushing up to Heroku

If you have already gone through this tutorial and everything is working nicely, you’re going to want to host the web server in the cloud rather than on your computer. To do this, we can push our Rails server up to a service called Heroku – a web hosting service. If you don’t already have a Heroku account, I would sign up and acquaint yourself with the service. It’s pretty awesome and free.

Once this is up and running, remember to update the URL in your instance of Mailjet’s Parse API to whatever the URL is of your Heroku app.

 

Mailjet’s Parse API

First thing’s first, we need to find your API Key and Secret Key for your Mailjet account (if you haven’t already done so, sign up for Mailjet here).

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You will find them here under “configure my SMTP” on the main dashboard. Keep these secret, otherwise someone can send emails on your behalf!

Now, we’re going to create an instance of the Parse API using a curl request. In terminal, paste the following, then hit enter. Remember to substitute “API_KEY” and “SECRET_KEY” with your respective credentials and http://your.webhook.com with the server URL ngrok (or Heroku) returned back to you:

curl —user "API_KEY:SECRET_KEY"
https://api.mailjet.com/v3/REST/parseroute -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d
'{"Url":"http://your.webhook.com/email_processor"}'

This command will create an instance and return back to you something like this:

{ "Count" : 1, "Data" : [{ "APIKeyID" : 123456, "Email" :
"christmas-tree-app@parse-in1.mailjet.com", "ID" : 12, "Url" :
"http:\/\/47c528d4.ngrok.com\/email_processor" }], "Total" : 1 }

The email returned back to you – in this case, christmas-tree-app@parse-in1.mailjet.com – is the email that when sent to, will dump all of the email contents onto your web server via a POST request. If you wish to update this email address to something a bit more aesthetic, use this command:

curl -s -X —user "API_KEY:SECRET_KEY"
https://api.mailjet.com/v3/REST/parseroute -H 'Content-Type:
application/json' -d
'{"Email":"whatever-you-like@parse-in1.mailjet.com"}'

 

Decorating the tree

Now that you have all of the the hardware wired, all the firmware uploaded, and the server up and running, it’s time to decorate the tree! From my experience, the best way to do this is to put the dot matrix at the top of the tree first and then wrap the LEDs around the tree going from top to bottom.

To mount the dot matrix at the top of the tree, I screwed in the four magnets to the back (these came with the dot matrix) , then placed the rubber band onto one of the sides, twisted the rubber band a half turn, then put the other side of the rubber band on the other side of the dot matrix – essentially creating an “X” with the rubber band that effectively mounts it to the tree.

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Here is what it will look like once you’re done!

IMG_1652

Changing the lights via email

At the moment in the Github repo code, you can email up to three commands by putting them in the body of the email. The three commands are “lights”, “background”, and “icon”.

Below is a list of all currently available options for each of the commands.

lights
“lights” changes the color and pattern of the lights around the tree.

  • blue
  • green
  • red
  • christmas
  • mailjet

background
“background” changes the background color of the display on top of tree.

  • blue
  • green
  • red
  • black

icon
“icon” changes the icon on the display on top of the tree.

  • circle
  • mailjet
  • star
  • logo

 

Example Email

The following example will change the lights blue, put a star on the display, and make the background color of the display green. Remember to change the email address you are sending to the one you have have associated with Mailjet’s Parse API:

email-example

El Fin

And that’s it! Enjoy your email controlled Christmas tree!

If you see any bugs or wish to add more light patterns, dot matrix icons colors and icons, send me a pull request or email me at tyler@mailjet.com.

 

Thanks to Big Brothers Big Sisters

We’re excited to say that Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC will be taking control over the Email Controlled Christmas Tree. For those of you who don’t know who they are:

Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC serves over 3500 children finding them mentors to help ensure their success in life. We do this by partnering with families, volunteers, companies and the community to inspire a positive change in all. Visit www.bigsnyc.org to learn more about becoming a BIG or to donate towards our Education Initiative.

Help light up the holidays by donating to Big Brothers Big Sisters: http://www.bigsnyc.org/donate

 

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

 

5 Ways Email Can Help Your Business Take Flight

When first starting a business, it can often feel like you’re being pulled in ten different directions: “what niche should I target?”, “what’s my price point?”, “is this business model scalable?”…

The paths for growth are endless, but your budget often isn’t. Don’t underestimate the smaller hacks like email, a medium that requires minimal setup but provides a relatively lucrative ROI of 4300%. Here’s why email can help your business hit the ground running.

Haven’t you heard? Email’s not dead

There’s a rumor that’s been going around for some time now that email is dead. But even with the rise of social media, email is more alive than ever. The truth is, everyone has an email account, whereas social media usage can be more fragmented. According to a Mediabistro study, 94% of internet usage is dedicated to sending or checking email.

Very recently, we’ve also seen a boom of several email apps looking to revolutionize the inbox. Google’s Inbox App, Mailbox and Boomerang are just a few that are working to shape email to fit an on-the-go, multi-screen lifestyle.

It’s cheap, with a high ROI


Setting up an account is easy – with Mailjet, it takes 5 minutes to create an account and be on your way to sending. With a ROI of 4300%, being low on resources or strapped for time is no excuse! A good place to start is to set up a few transactional email campaigns. Welcome emails, which a customer receives after signing up to receive emails from you, and confirmation emails, after customer performs a purchase or action, are both crucial in the customer lifecycle. If you’re ready to dig a little deeper, segment your contact list by gender, geography or behavior and message them about your product accordingly.

Customers are ready to purchase when they open their inbox


With new email inventions like Google’s promotion’s tab, the inbox has become the shopper’s best friend. Consumers have been trained to open their Promotion’s tab to look for new product updates or promotions when they’re in the mindset to shop. The neat part is that transactional emails are still filtered to land in the Primary tab – so you don’t have to worry about password resets or tracking information being lost in the mix.

Depending on your business, if you decide you’d like all of your emails to land in the Primary tab, simply send an email campaign asking your customers to add you to their contact list. This tells Google that you’re a trusted sender that sends one-on-one messages to this recipient.


Retention, long-term


All this talk about email doesn’t mean we’re ruling out other marketing channels. Each one plays its own part in the customer lifecycle – email has its place and should be used along with social media for maximum impact. Social media channels are a great vehicle to drive brand awareness, whereas email is more of a channel for retention.

Use regular email newsletters to keep customers up-to-date on product news and drive them to engage further on your website and blog. You can also create a triggered reactivation campaign to send a promotion to inactive customers who have not opened or clicked an email in the past 3-6 months. According to ReturnPath, 45% of recipients of reactivation campaigns went on to read subsequent emails after receiving their first reactivation campaign.

Life span 

Emails stay in the inbox until your customer is ready to take action. The lifespan of an email is longer than that of a social media post; the lifespan of a tweet is so short, you can predict its popularity within the first five minutes.

Emails are also impactful since they can be saved until a customer is ready to engage with your product. Whether it’s a discount, free trial or sweepstakes, customers will not only be able to easily read the message several times but also save it for when they’re most ready to engage.

Above all, since you’re reading this article, it looks like you’re already off to a good start! Let us know in the comments below how you plan to use email!

Redefining Your Email Goals This Holiday Season

We’re officially well into the month of December. Have you been watching the clock count down and staring at your email stats with anxiety? We all have numbers to meet by the end of the year, but don’t let these pre-determined goals hold the reigns this holiday season.

Take a step back and be flexible with your definition of success. Here are some things to keep in mind as you evaluate your email performance going into the New Year.

Competitive Analysis


Put on your consumer hat and look through the holiday campaigns your competitors have sent through so far. Which customer demographic is underserved? Which words are overused? When are competitors less likely to message? Make a list of trends to take note of and identify areas of opportunity.

Redefining Your Email Goals This Holiday Season

Just from doing a quick search of retail emails in my own inbox, I saw that “Today Only”, “Final Hours” and “Surprise” have been commonly used in subject lines over the past few weeks.

This exercise will help you look at your goals from a bigger picture perspective and redefine your strategy. Rather than just focusing on using email marketing to drive ROI, leverage your email strategy as a way to differentiate your product and stand out in a highly saturated market.

Engagement Across Channels


Email marketing is a bit like science. We often start off with hypotheses that are partially based off of past data or previously proven, if we’re lucky. While you might start off with the hunch Facebook is the most optimal channel for your business, let your data tell the story. It could be that your customers are spending more time on Linkedin. Track which touchpoints your customers are visiting after exiting your emails. If you’re using Google Analytics, you can set up goals and funnels to define specific pages, downloads or actions you want to track.

Don’t be afraid to let your customers drive the marketing. Work smarter, not harder by focusing resources during the remaining few weeks the holiday season to optimize social media channels or devices that have seen most traction.

Don’t Jump To Conclusions


Last but not least, don’t be discouraged by low open or click-through rates. There could be other underlying successes that you’re overlooking. For example, click-to-open rates are a better indicator of performance, since it tracks of the number of subscribers that opened the email, how many ultimately went on to click through a link and engage with your product. An open-rate for an email can seem low, but if the click-to-open percentage is high, that means your customers are engaged, you may just need to rework your benchmark for your subject lines.

What are some goals you have set this holiday season? How are you looking to re-evaluate them before the New Year? We’d love to hear more about them in the comments below!

BUBS: Your New Email Sending Buddy

The raging war between spammers and ISPs has been ongoing for years now. Mailjet has been fighting alongside other ISPs to ensure the deliverability and reputation of legitimate senders trying to cut through the noise. With 30 million emails being sent through our servers each day, it’s not an easy task. Enter BUBS.

Over the years, consumers have become more educated in identifying spam, which in turn has caused spammers to refine their practices. We continue to track these trends and work to improve our algorithms accordingly. Most recently, we’ve introduced a new Mailjet Sending Policy, a handy guide that summarizes an improved set of rules our Deliverability Team will enforce to help identify senders that follow best practices from those that don’t. With this new sending policy, we’d also like to introduce you to your sending buddy BUBS. Like most challenging tasks, it becomes much more manageable with the help of a friend. Who is he and how does he help? Read on and we’ll tell you all about it.

What is BUBS?


At Mailjet, we call BUBS the different email status that you want to keep low when sending a new campaign: Bounced, Unsubscribed, Blocked and tagged as SPAM (BUBS).

– Bounced emails can be seen as the email version of “no longer resides at the indicated address”: if an email can’t reach the inbox of a contact, it will be returned to the sender and be considered as “bounced”.

– Unsubscribed emails are self-explanatory : any recipient opting-out your emails will join the “unsubscribed” category.
– Blocked emails are messages that previously came back as Bounced because the email address no longer exist; though, you didn’t clean up your contact list and tried to re-send them an email. But Mailjet identified this address addess as no longer existing. So your message to this address won’t leave our servers. It will be pinged as “blocked”.
– Spam messages also speak for themselves : if one of your contacts mark one of your emails as “spam”, future messages that you’ll send to this person will immediately land in the spam folder. As you may guess, this will lead to bad stats, as your “spam” rate will increase. To this category, we can also add the messages which hit spam trap (fake email addresses that spam reporting companies use to spot bad senders), and false abuse complaints (when a recipient signal a legitimate email as spam).

Those different stats translate the global behavior of the ISPs, webmail clients and, of course, recipients of your message. The lower your BUBS stats are, the better your contact list and your message are. Otherwise, if your BUBS rates are higher than expected, you might need to review your emailing strategy and your contact lists. And, yes, your account could be quarantined.

Why is BUBS important?


We set up the BUBS threshold because it consists of the key factors in guaranteeing an optimal deliverability rate. By tracking the BUBS stats for each Mailjet customer, we can help our users understand the best practices on email sending. It also helps us quickly identify account misuse and spammers and take the appropriate action. By doing so, we can better keep our servers clean and ensure an higher deliverability for all of our good practice customers.
We also think it’s important to be open and transparent about how we assess the quality of the emails that are being sent through our servers and use these to identify bad practice. We’re sharing our BUBS threshold so you, our users, are familiar with the guidelines to follow to steer clear of being flagged.

How will BUBS affect you?


If you’re like most of our users who comply with our sending policy and your local spam regulations in sending your email, you will most likely not be affected. You’ll be sending email to email addresses that have specifically ask to receive them and your BUBS stats are therefore most likely to be in the safe zone.

If you do practice any kind of misuse, such as purchasing contact lists from third parties or sending illegal content, your BUBS stats will most likely go up. Following this, someone from the Mailjet team might get in touch with you and let you know we’re monitoring your account closely until your stats improve.

What can I do to keep my BUBS stats low?


It’s pretty simple – follow these emailing best practices after each sent campaign:

Clean up your contact list carefully.
Remove addresses of users who unsubscribed.
Also remove blocked addresses and those who marked your message as spam.

You can then tweak your content to comply with what your recipients expect you to send. Adapt your sending rate to your audience. Offer relevant content. Don’t be too invasive… You’ll find a lot of good advice in our deliverability guide.

By following these tips, your deliverability rate should increase, your BUBS rates decrease and you should be back on track with your email sending.

Still have questions about BUBS or our sending policy? Feel free to contact our support team, who is always ready to address any of your questions. Take flight with Mailjet!

Email Hacks For Team Productivity

Email hurts productivity. Email traps knowledge. Email demands time. Email wasn’t designed for collaboration. Kill email at work.
We hear this everywhere. All the time. And thanks to all the studies that have been held on the subject recently, we know that most of it is even true to some extent. Our professional email life is really busy and people checking their inboxes more than 11 times a day can’t be good for team productivity.

But let’s face it, email isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And the reason is quite simple: email is still the #1 channel people use to communicate with companies. Here are some Email Hacks to help you to use it more productively:

Email Hacks For Team Productivity1

The idea here is not to find the best ways to transition your company off email but rather the best ways to make you and your team more productive, more efficient and as a result happier (yes, I said it) when dealing with email.
Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Don’t use email for everything

There are some cases where email just doesn’t cut it, at least not in the best of ways. In these cases, it makes sense to supplement your inbox with other solutions.

Deal with internal conversations and urgent matters outside of your inbox.

Give your inbox (and everyone’s else) a break when it comes to discussing where you’re going for lunch, that quick question you needed to ask to a colleague or why you still don’t have that very urgent document you needed yesterday. If you need to talk to teammates about an internal subject in real time, a chat room (like Slack or Hipchat) will be more effective. And if it’s even more urgent, pick up your phone :).

Find better ways to store information.

For a truly collaborative environment, all team members should have access to data they’ll use on a consistent basis. Your inbox isn’t the best place for that. That’s why you need to find other ways to to store all that is needed. Use a shared inbox like Front or Intercom to store important conversations for different team members and storage apps like Google Drive or Dropbox to keep documents and spreadsheets.
Don’t rely on email for everything.

At Front, we used to ask our customers for feedback all the time via email. Our inboxes received lots of great insights that then got lost amongst all the other things that were happening there. That’s why we decided to look for other ways of collecting feedback like surveys or in-app comment boxes. The result? We now have organized data and insights that are easy to sort through.

Email Hacks For Team Productivity2

Our friends at PersistIQ have a handy comment box at the bottom of their app.
The data collected is directly added to a Google spreadsheet.

 

Adopt the right workflow

Building the right habits inside of your inbox can also make a huge difference for you and your team. And it doesn’t have to be difficult either.

Aim for inbox zero.

Once a day. Once a week. Once a month. Whatever you decide, you should try to clear your inbox on a regular basis, making sure at the same time that everything is under control. A simple rule that can help is the rule of the “4Ds”. Every time you read an email for the 1st time, you should choose between doing it right now (if it doesn’t take much time), delegating it to the right person, deferring it (by adding it to a to-do list for example or snoozing it until the time is right) or deleting it. It’s easy to remember and easy to do.

 

Email Hacks For Team Productivity3
Our daily goal at Front :)

Trump time by scheduling and snoozing.

Don’t want to spend your week in your inbox, double checking emails to see if people have replied to you? Lucky for you, a lot of tools can now do that for you so you don’t have to. Yesware or Boomerang for example, let you schedule emails days or weeks in advance, set reminders for important follow ups and alert you when people open your message.

Email Hacks For Team Productivity4
The Yesware interface lets you schedule emails in advance and set reminders.
Use rules and filters.

Your inbox is full of great features -use them. Filters let you organize your inboxes depending on set conditions. Whether it’s to automatically tag emails or automatically sort them through folders, they are a great and easy way to keep control.

Email Hacks For Team Productivity5

Save time and energy for you and the people you’re talking to

You don’t want to spend time in your inbox, we get it. So the chances are high that the people you are talking to don’t want to do that either. Here’s how you can make that happen for both of you.

Build ready-to-go snippets.

If you happen to write the same things over and over again in your emails and you’re not doing anything about it, you’re wasting time. By using snippets (short paragraphs of pre-written text that you can insert in emails), you’ll notice that your emails are getting better and faster to write. Have a look at Streak or TextExpander to do just that. Make sure you also have a couple of ready-to-go signatures to switch between if you happen to wear multiple hats inside your team.

Email Hacks For Team Productivity6

A cool example of what you can do with TextExpander.
 

Go straight to the point.

You’re writing emails, not trying to get the next Pulitzer prize (sorry if you are :)). So make sure you keep it short and actionable. Good formatting is key to make text scannable and easy to read. You’ll write faster and your readers will be grateful.

Stay on one subject and one subject only.

Make sure to only address one subject per email and have clear and descriptive subject lines. Since most people tend to archive emails and then refer to them based on their subject, keeping it clean makes it easier for everyone to dig into their inboxes.

Find the right time for you and email

This is a tough one. Much has been said on opposing sides; answer right away and check only a few times a day.To be honest, they both work, depending on what kind of emails you receive. You just need to find the one that’s right for you and your team.

Option 1 – Answer all emails right away.

If you end up every day with a group of messages you’ve seen and intended to respond to later but actually never did, this option might be good for you. Replying to emails when you receive them, even with a short “I’ve seen your email, I’ll get back to you on Monday”, and sorting them with the “4Ds” method can help you avoid the afternoon fear where you need to face all your dreaded emails, at the risk of never replying.

Option 2 – Check emails at specific times only during the day.

Another option, made popular by Tim Ferriss amongst others, is to check your email at specific times only, for example once in the morning and once in the afternoon. When you’re not dealing with email in batches, your inbox should be closed and your notifications turned off. If you’re afraid you might miss something important, you can always set an auto-responder informing people that you only check your inbox twice a day and that you’ll get back to them when you can.

 

Wrapping up

It’s not easy to change habits, you and I both know that. It’s even harder when it comes to changing the way you deal with something as familiar as email. And it gets truly difficult when you try to get everyone on board with you, convincing them one by one that there is a better way to deal with email.

But it’s possible, you’ll have to trust me on this one. I know this because it’s my daily job to help people change their entire email workflow to be more productive and efficient as a team. And even if they might be reluctant to start, what they gain from learning new habits for them and their teams is definitely worth the effort.

Research says that new habits take 30 days to really stick. Just consider this as Day 1 for you and your team. Choose one new method to start with and get working towards better productivity!

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This blog post was written by Alice Default, in charge of marketing at Front, with a sweet spot for content. She writes about shared inboxes, email productivity and startup culture. Get in touch with her at @alice_default.