Get Personal With Your Contacts Using Mailjet’s Templating Language

Today is an exciting day at Mailjet, as we’re releasing a new major feature for developers: our very own templating language. While Passport for Transactional gives you the opportunity to use templates designed with Passport for your transactional emails, pushing the collaboration between your marketing and developer teams to the next level, our templating language allows you to go one step further in personalizing your transactional emails.

You’re probably already familiar with the personalized tags that enable you to address your users by name, using something such as “Hello {{first_name}}”. Well now, you can do way better than that, by adapting the content – including the subject line – and the layout of your email, according to your users’ data. Any data, really, as long as it matters to you: it can be their history with your brand, their favorite soccer team or just their gender. It’s all up to you!

“We use Mailjet’s templating language for all our transactional emails. It is much simpler, more powerful and has a higher deliverability rate than our previous in-house system. Plus, Passport, Mailjet’s drag-and-drop email editor, gives our marketing team an easy-to-use tool to continuously improve our email templates.“ – Camille Richon, Founder of Payfacile.

To give you a better idea of what you can do with it, let’s have a look at a couple of examples. We’d like to heartily thank our community of beta-testers who helped us identify popular use cases and allowed us to build our templating language accordingly.

Using conditions to send super personalized content to the right users

What’s the point of addressing your users by name if you just send them generic content? Our templating language comes with predefined variables (such as your contacts’ first names, email-addresses…), but you can also create your own variables and include them in your template, or even use them in statements. This enables you to include conditional sections, which means you can print different content in your template depending on the status of those conditions.

Instead of having to take care of the logic in-house, all the complexity is handled by Mailjet’s templating language.    

Looping over purchased products to send a receipt

A common transactional email we’ve all come across is the receipt. However, it is rather time-consuming to implement and maintain, as you need to get the resources (such as the orders numbers) that are hosted on your servers and alter your template accordingly before sending it. Nonetheless, the raw structure of a receipt is quite simple. You’ll usually find information that is repeated, such as the orders numbers, dates and prices. Now, with our templating language, you don’t have to handle the alteration of the template on your own, as it is natively supported by our API. All you have to do is call our API with your template ID (yes, the template can be designed in Passport for Transactional and be hosted on Mailjet’s servers!) and, as long as you used the language on your template, the API will alter it for you. It’s as simple as that! Check out this email receipt:  Here is what the code would look like for this example of transactional email:  

Fullscreen_25_02_2016__16_46

 

We’re convinced you’ll find a lot of other use cases where the for loop speeds up your productivity and makes things easier, such as looping over a list of articles for a tailored daily digest or a list of missed messages in a chat app to send a recap.

What’s next

Discover the full list of statements, expressions, operators and functions available in the templating language in our documentation. Sky’s the limit when it comes to combining them! We can’t wait to hear about all the new ways of engaging with your users you come up with, so please share your use cases and implementations with us!

On our side, we’ll make sure we add new features into our templating language so you can do even more with less code.

Speaking of doing more with less, have you checked out MJML, our open-source markup language that makes responsive email development easy? We had an awesome welcome from the community (800+ upvotes on Product Hunt, 2,000+ stars on GitHub) and want to thank everyone who supported us!

With Passport, Passport for transactional, MJML and our brand new templating language, you now have all you need to make your emails rock!

5 Responsive Email Fails You Need To Avoid

Back in the past, when I received an email I couldn’t read properly, I would blame my phone, try and shake it or even go for the classic, yet still miraculous “close and reopen mail” technique.

Nowadays, how many emails do you receive a day? 20, 30, 100? Today, when I get an email with a dodgy display, cropped images and blocks aligned  weirdly where it resembles a Picasso, I just click ‘Delete’. And I’m not the only one: 80% of people out there would delete an email that doesn’t look good on their mobile device.

So, in a world ruled by mobile, where people like me undervalue all the effort you put into your newsletter and campaigns, which just get deleted without a hint of remorse, responsiveness is the key attribute.

However, coding a responsive email can be confusing and certainly hard to learn. Lucky for us, there are alternatives to turn the design of a responsive message into an intuitive task. When designing your responsive emails there are a number of things to look at out for:

 

1- Alignment is key

Sometimes, when designing an email, we get all artistic about our multiple columns, amazing backgrounds cat gifs and pictures, only to see them ruined when the messages are opened on tablets and smartphones.

Opting for a single column layout will prevent you from having to rearrange the design as the screen size gets smaller. When it comes to mobile devices, simplicity is your ally!

Have a look at some of these layout fails, taken straight out of our own inbox!

Aligment

 

2- Images to text ratio

Images (and GIFs) are a great way to break up big chunks of text. However, images can potentially be a double-edged sword. Pictures that don’t render properly can appear too big or too small on some devices, ruining your killer background or making your banner unreadable.

Yeezy

 

Similarly, watch out for images that are too large and don’t load properly when using data plans without 4G. Edit and optimize your images for the web before uploading them and don’t forget to add ‘Alt Text’.

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3- Calls-to-action

Without an obvious instruction to recipients, it’s hard to invite them to your website or product pages. This is where we need to get clever with where we add links to our email campaigns.

That’s also why calls-to-action and links need to be easily identifiable and perfectly targeted. We need to think of the size and the position: not too many, not too cramped.

Make primary calls to action as buttons so on phones and tablets it could be easily tapped with a finger, and we all know there are pretty big fingers out there! Try and be creative with other areas to use links such as secondary CTAs within the text, or turning images into clickable links.

IMG_2151

 

4- Watch your text

More than half the emails we send are opened on mobile devices, but phones aren’t the best place for reading large amounts of texts.

Before responsive became a standard, emails and websites which were mobile optimized would just be cramped to fit the screen, without out making further changes to the layout, content and images. Nowadays, we have learnt the importance of optimizing these elements to ensure our messages are looking their best on any device with any sized screen.

Text is one of those things that we should adapt to ensure people opening our messages on the go don’t get overwhelmed by small font and long paragraphs.

However, there are still emails out there that look like chapters in a novel. Let’s face it, no one is going to read this:

IMG_2149

Tip: Provide a snippet of the text and invite recipients to read the full article on your blog.

 

5- Hierarchy and priorities

On a web browser, there are different techniques to catch readers’ attention: using colors, eye-catching pictures, stylish fonts etc… But when it comes to other smaller screens, such as smartphones, hierarchy needs to be clear to ensure your readers get a feel of your key message, even if they don’t scroll all the way down.

With people receiving so many emails every day, the competition is hard and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get people to read through your whole email. That’s why we should always design our email in order of importance, with the most relevant elements first.

 

EXTRA!

We’re nearly there: we’ve crafted a beautiful email and tested it on various devices, we are ready to send… Hold on. What about the landing pages?

Even if we’ve done a great job and we have managed to captivate our readers, our efforts can still be ruined by a non-responsive landing page! Research shows that even though mobile devices drive more opens, most conversions actually come from the desktop. Make things easy for your readers and ensure they have a great user experience, regardless of the device!

 

Have you tried any of these techniques before? What are your tips to ensure your emails are responsive? Share them with us in our Community Forum to be included in future posts!

 

Using Gmail For Email Marketing: Not Such A Good Idea

A few days ago, Loïc Le Meur published a post on the French blog Medium wondering why his newsletter kept being marked as spam in his subscribers’ inboxes. At first glance, he meticulously follows the best practices for sending bulk emails: he uses an opt-in only mailing list, an emailing service and he obviously offers quality content. So, what could possibly be causing his emails to end up in the spam folder?

It turns out the problem lies elsewhere: it’s actually caused by the sender’s address. Loïc Le Meur uses an @gmail.com address. Without special configuration, bulk emails sent from ISP or webmail provider addresses – which are designed for consumer use – are almost always seen as suspicious by said providers.

Let’s take a look at why sending marketing emails from a @gmail.com address is usually a bad idea.

Email marketing with Gmail has its limitations

Firstly, whether you’re using an emailing service like Mailjet or working directly in the Gmail interface, you’re going to find limits to the number of emails you can send and the number of contacts you can have:
– 500 emails per day (or 100 if you use a POP or IMAP email client like Outlook or Apple Mail),
– a maximum of 25,000 contacts.

The more your mailing list grows, the more these limits are going to become restrictive, whether you use the Gmail interface or a system like Mailjet.

Bulk email and the risk of looking like a phisher with Gmail

That is exactly what happened to Loïc Le Meur. A phishing alert was attached to his email when it arrived in his subscribers’ inboxes.

Usually, bulk emails sent from webmail addresses are seen as suspicious by ISPs. When senders don’t own the domain name in their email address (gmail.com, yahoomail.com, orange.fr, etc.), ISPs can’t set up the SPF and DKIM authentications used by these domains.

As such, email servers can’t possibly verify that you’re a legitimate sender, even if you follow all the other standard rules for sending bulk emails (like Loïc Le Meur). So webmail providers and ISPs prefer to mark all unauthenticated incoming email as phishing, rather than risking a bad user experience.

How to send newsletters with Gmail: best practices

If despite all these limitations, you still want to send your newsletters and marketing campaigns from an @gmail.com address, you can configure your email service account so that it uses the Gmail SMTP server.

Just follow these steps:

  • Go to “Settings” in your Gmail account,
  • Click the “Accounts” tab. In the “Send mail as” field, select the @gmail.com address you wish to use.
  • Click “Edit info”. You can use either your domain’s SMTP servers (activated by default) or Gmail’s servers. Select Gmail’s servers.

You should now be able to send marketing emails from your Gmail account without further issues. However, there is still a risk that these messages will be marked as phishing once they reach their destination.

Even though using an @gmail.com address can be convenient and can allow you to remain on the same level as your subscribers by having an individual and personalized email address, there are many advantages to having an email address that contains your own domain name.

You’ll definitely look more professional and it will take your brand identity to a whole new level. Most importantly, you’ll have a lot more control over your email address’ reputation and, as long as you follow the other good practices for sending bulk emails, you shouldn’t have to worry about your messages being marked as phishing.

How To Win The Super Bowl With Email Marketing

For five months out of the year, the National Football League dominates the airwaves each and every Sunday. The biggest of those Sundays is the Super Bowl, which pits the two best teams in the league against each other.

While the game itself is only 60 minutes long, the Super Bowl is a 3 hour and 30 minute affair where marketing and advertising takes city stage.

Lights, cameras, action, it’s football time…or should I say marketing time!

You Don’t Have To A Huge Budget To Win In The Super Bowl

It’s no secret that for the $5 million price tag of a Super Bowl commercial you could hire Puff Daddy to make an appearance at your holiday party for 5 years straight. Or if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can buy a fleet of 200 lions to ride to and fro to work for the rest of your life. Yes, we’re really serious about this!

puff daddy

But really, you don’t need a big budget to win the big game.

Oreo showed this during the 2013 Super Bowl with their lights out tweet.

The action isn’t happening on just the TV screen, keep your eyes on social media to find things that people are talking about and create content around that. Be creative but keep it simple.

The Power of the Super Bowl Giveaway

Whether you’re a sports fan or not, everyone can agree that they love giveaways and what better time to do a giveaway than during the big game.

Papa John’s utilized this strategy very well and in a way that they don’t lose a thing.

papa johns

Luck was on Papa John’s side with the giveaway but traditionally the Super Bowl has never gone into overtime in the entire history of the NFL. This giveaway not only got people excited, because who doesn’t like free pizza; but also it generated tons of engagement.

You don’t have to be this bold, but make sure your giveaway makes sense for the big game while staying true to your brand.

Halftime Messages

Depending on who you ask, the Super Bowl halftime is or isn’t important, so that means people will be busy checking their phones.

Time your email to go out between as the second quarter ends and right before the halftime show wraps up.

Cat Typing

Bonus tip: To really capture people’s attention, take advantage of this year’s halftime performers in your subject lines. Hint hint, this year the performers include: Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars.

Score The Touchdown After The Game

After an exciting 3 hours of amazing action and commercials, the game has come to a close with one team being crowned the Super Bowl winner.

They aren’t the only ones who are winning, the post game email strategy is a great way to draw in an audience with an exciting limited time deal.

DirectTV did exactly this in 2012 after the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl.

direct-tv

This offer is great for a few reasons. It’s simple yet does a great job of integrating a football theme while playing off the recent Super Bowl events.

Post game emails gives you a chance to capture people’s attention as they munch on those last few hot wings and decide if they should finish their beer or not.

All in all, the Super Bowl is a big event that your business should definitely be taking advantage of. Be creative, think outside of the box and cheer on your favorite team. Go team go!

cheering

#MJChat Twitter Chat Recap

We recently chatted with Joshua Davidson, Ahna Hendrix, Nat Eliason and Anthony Frasier during our monthly #Mailjet Twitter Chat.

Our guest experts shared tips on how they have used social media to grow their email list to launch their business or product. Here are 5 things we learned about growing an email list using social media and email marketing:

1. Create relevant content

The one thing that kept coming up during our Twitter chat on sure ways to grow your email list was creating relevant and good content.

2. Market, market, market

Content creation is key but it doesn’t mean much if you aren’t marketing it properly.

Nat Eliason was quick to note that for some businesses, they may not have time to share their content on social media, so they have to think outside of the box to get results.

Another user pointed out they get really niche and engage in relevant groups on Facebook or LinkedIn to start communication in order to share his content.

3. Be different and be consistent

Sometimes when creating content, people look to “recreate” what others have done successfully. And it can work sometimes but how long can you keep up that level of consistency? Our guests explained that you can be different but be consistent.

4. GIFs, design and emojis

It’s no secret that three of the major ???’s to success for cutting through the noise and reaching your customers are the use of gifs, good designs and emojis.

In our Email Design Toolkit guide, we break down how better designs can increase both conversions and clickthrough rates. You will be amazed at how much more engagement you will receive once you begin investing in better designs.

5. Test test test

There’s tons of data out there on the perfect time to send your emails or schedule posts on social media, but truthfully, audiences interact with content differently depending on the platform, the product and the brand. The only way to know what works best for your business or brand is to test test test!

For complete highlights of the chat, check out our Storify article.

Also, be sure to check out our Flight Academy, a free online course that covers the A to Z’s of email marketing fundamentals.