SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, and is essentially the backend system that helps you and company send, receive, and relay messages between email senders and receivers.
In an episode of Email Explained, our Sr. Customer Success Manager gives us the 101 of what you need to know about SMTP Relay, but we’ll add a little more depth below.
What is an SMTP Relay?
An SMTP relay is a protocol that allows email to be transmitted through the internet: (1) receiving email from the sender and (2) delivering it to the recipient’s local post office, another SMTP server.
It was first created in 1982 and continues to be the internet standard that is widely used today.
To break this down a bit more, let’s imagine the journey that your normal snail mail may take to get to its destination:
Sending through an SMTP server with an email service provider
So what does this protocol look like when it comes to an email service provider like Mailjet? Businesses that need to send mass email to their customers use SMTP relay for ease of maintenance and added analytics insights.
Sending through an email service provider, like Mailjet, via an SMTP relay saves companies from having to run their own mail server. As you can see in the diagram below, the business or sender creates the email and their server sends it to Mailjet’s SMTP server to prepare and send it out to recipients.
In order to combat spam, a majority of webmail providers (i.e. Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) put a limit on how many emails you can send to different recipients per day. As businesses, who need to communicate en mass with their audience, would often exceed this limit, they will require the services of an enterprise level email sending platform.
An SMTP relay provider can help businesses and organizations deliver large volumes of email without getting them mislabeled as spam or running up against small sending limits.
Email service providers like Mailjet, invest a lot of resources into building their own email infrastructure to handle large volumes and work closely with the major internet service providers (ISPs) and webmail providers to deliver these emails straight to the recipients inbox.
Behind the Scenes: SMTP server tracking
There’s an added layer of value to sending through an email service provider. With Mailjet, before our SMTP servers send an email, our system automatically adds link trackers in the body of your message. This then allows you, as the user, to properly track opens and clicks after an email has been received.
Mailjet also translates feedback from ISPs (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc.), since each one communicates in its own way. Our service saves developers time by converting this into an easily identifiable response, displaying whether an email has either soft bounced or hard bounced.
A soft bounce includes, for instance, when a server is down or full, while a hard bounce is if the recipient’s email address is no longer active or mistyped.
To understand how ports work, we need to take a step back and see what happens when computers communicate with each other on the internet.
Let’s say you are trying to reach mailjet.com. In this case, the Domain Name System (DNS) is converting this to the actual IP that is hidden behind the name of the site. In Mailjet’s case, this is 184.108.40.206. You probably could remember 4-5 IPs like ours, but who can actually remember more, or really… who would want to?
An SMTP port is one that is meant to be used for SMTP connections. Today, the most common SMTP ports are 25, 465, 587, or 2525. This doesn’t mean that they are the only ones, though. These few ports are the most used ones for these types of connection, and because of that they are almost always opened, which means you should be able to reach your destination.
If you’re looking to decide which port to use, be sure to reach our article on Choosing an SMTP Port to see which one is best for you.
Ultimately, SMTP relay makes our lives as marketers much simpler, by handling all of the heavy lifting in the backend so that we can spend more time crafting content and building out our contact lists.
Want to know more about SMTP and Mailjet? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to be the first to know about our new articles!
Mother’s Day is coming, and on top of Sunday brunches and maybe a couple mimosa’s, you can also expect an increase in soft pinks and flower GIFs in your inbox. By the way, this year it’s May 12th. :)
We love these times in the year, including Holiday Season, Valentines Day, and Summer Break, because it brings out the most creativity in marketing departments and brands trying to distinguish themselves from the crowd. This is especially true for e-commerce and retail sites who are emailing about upcoming Mother’s Day sales, but just as interestingly, brands of all stripes are celebrating mothers in their own unique way.
Applying Best Practices to Your Email Campaigns
In honor of our mothers, we wanted to showcase some of the more effective and beautifully designed emails and newsletters and give you a little look into what we love about them. Each of these campaigns utilizes many of our recommended best practices, including using images and GIFs to increase engagement, clear calls-to-action, simple design, alignment to your overall brand, and more.
BUT, we also would love your input! As you take a look at these campaigns, be sure to vote on your favourite at the bottom of the page, and we’ll tally these up to present to the world what the Mailjet community considers the best Mother’s Day newsletter 🏆.
Anthropologie: Power of Simplicity in your Email Campaigns
First up is Anthropologie’s To Mom With Love email. What we love about this campaign is its simplicity, focusing the email on one clear purpose: shop Mother’s Day Gifts.
The image is simple yet beautiful and brand-aligned, making it clear right off the top what this email is about. Their call-to-action, “Shop Mother’s Day Gift”, is more descriptive than many in this list, which simply state “Shop Now”. They also use colors really effectively, creating a clear emotional reaction of energy, love, and motherhood.
Jack Spade: Email Design to Increase Clicks
We warned you about soft pinks. This email continues the trend started by Anthropologie with it’s simple yet impactful design. They also take advantage of the fact that many of their customers are used to shopping on their website, and so they maintain this brand consistency with the website heading at the top, which creates familiarity and allows readers to navigate to any page on the site they want.
But make no mistake, the page THEY want you to go to is the Mother’s Day “Shop Now” link. The witty (and all too relatable) headline “You Never Call Anymore” literally forms the top of a funnel that pulls your eyes downwards to the one CTA, “Shop Now”. Brilliant.
SeatGeek: Brand Alignment
Next up is Seat Geek’s campaign, which is powerful for two reasons.
First, they know their audience, and as a result they are branding this email not like what we’ve seen above with Mother’s Day colors and flowers, but instead with their on-brand blue and yellow. Their audience, as a sports ticketing mobile app, is predominantly younger users who interact with their product on a mobile device.
Second, SeatGeek is the only example in this list that utilized a GIF in its email, and it does so in a creative way that (1) reveals more information the more you watch, and (2) draws your attention to the core message of the email: It’s Mother’s Day and she just wants to spend time with you.
Dr. Martens: Email Personalization
Our last contestant is Dr. (Doc) Martens. I’ll push past the obligatory beautiful flower arrangement, bold headlines, and website-navigation and instead, focus on their email personalization. While this email is clearly a Mother’s Day email, trying to remind their audience that they have some gifts to buy, it’s also using past click behaviour and engagement data to curate a list of products that they think will be interesting to the user.
Plus, the way the flowers grow out of the text? Love it (Pro tip: just as with your mother, it’s always good to show respect to a designer).
Create your Mother’s Day email campaigns with Mailjet
Mailjet’s collaborative email editor, Passport, is the best way to create stunning email campaigns that will look great on any device and inbox. Just choose a template to adapt from our extensive template gallery, or create yours from scratch by dragging and dropping sections, images and content blocks. For even more customized content, you can also insert HTML code blocks from the interface. Work with your team in real time to design the perfect Mother’s Day email!
Try the Mailjet’s email editor demo
Haven’t got a Mailjet account and want to try Passport? Play around with our demo to see how easy it is to create the perfect Mother’s Day email with Mailjet’s email editor!
Key Takeaways: Email Inspiration for Mothers Day
Altogether, these campaigns touch on some of the really important best practices you need to consider when putting together your emails campaigns, and especially your Mother’s Day campaigns.
Keep it Simple: Your campaign shouldn’t be asking your audience to do too much. One clear Call-to-Action and one core message are ideal to generate the most engagement.
Keep it Brand Aligned: While the soft pinks may feel like a necessity at Mother’s Day, don’t forget that you have a brand you need to maintain.
The Power of GIFs:A cat GIF is one thing, a custom GIF that can showcase your value, stay on brand, and also communicate your core message? That’s the tops.
Personalization: With your email platform, there is so much you can do to personalize content and segment audiences to increase engagement on your emails. Your Mom’s favourite Mother’s Day gift is a one-of-kind homemade card, why would your audience be any different.
We’d love your thoughts – which email best captures the Mother’s Day spirit? Which email are you desperately trying to click on? Leave your vote here!
As email marketing campaigns become more complex, with the addition of things like dynamic personalization, interactive content, and responsive design, email marketing teams are becoming more complex too.
Which means your email team’s workflow is also evolving.
It’s no longer as easy as choosing a template, selecting your recipients, writing a message, and clicking send. Today, you need to also capture and integrate your data, identify segmentation and personalization opportunities, craft an eye-catching design, code custom HTML (or MJML), test and retest your variables, ensure the email adapts to all inboxes and mobile devices, and on and on it goes.
A quality email is a complex email, and a complex email requires an effective team workflow.
At Mailjet, we’ve been working on this problem since the start – helping email teams work together more efficiently and more effectively. From the role out of our team features like live collaboration to the creation of MJML, which has made it easier than ever to code a responsive email, while also allowing your marketing team to easily edit with no coding knowledge.
This article will outline what we’ve learned along the way about how teams can effectively work together, and the email workflow required. Whether you’re sending a newsletter, creating transactional and automation email templates, or using an SMTP Relay or Email API to send custom HTML, every email team will go through most of these steps.
Each team is different, but at the end of the day, your email team requires these five roles. Sometimes one person plays more than one role, but if your team doesn’t have the skills necessary to fulfill each responsibility, you run the risk of mediocre results.
For example, a team with a really strong copywriter, but poor design, will underperform. As will a team with great copy, great design, but no data engineer to take advantage of personalization and segmentation opportunities.
The Email Strategist
To avoid being one of the many flailing brands that send out email campaigns without any kind of coherent strategy, or even a plan, you will need someone on your team devoted to thinking about the big picture. The Strategist is involved from A to Z, from how email will play a role in your business to the final word in campaigns.
The Email Designer
A designer, like always, is tasked with the look and feel of the email, but unlike standard web design, social media design, print, and so forth, designing for email requires knowledge of how the design will look on different devices. This will require close collaboration with the developers and the strategist to ensure the design is not only responsive across desktop and mobile, but also across different inboxes like Gmail, Outlook, and the many mobile inboxes that exist.
The designer will scoff, the strategist will say it’s the whole package that matters, and you know what – it’s kind of true. The whole team brings something to the table but at the end of the day a good message with well-written copy will cut through. Simply put, the copywriters are in charge of the words. This goes beyond just great sentences, the best copywriters know how to say more with less.
The Developer floats in and out of the planning and implementation phases of an email campaign.
They work closely with the strategist and designer off the top to ensure that the objective of an email campaign is accomplished with the variables we have in place. They also ensure that the design will, in fact, be responsive to different devices and inboxes. Finally, they take control of optimization practices to ensure things like segmentation are properly set up, and necessary integrations are enabled.
Finally, the Data Engineer plays a crucial role in helping the developer make the most of the integrations, and the Strategist understands the performance of campaigns.
It’s one thing for a developer and a strategist to include a [First Name] variable, or a personalized image, or message based on a segment. However, it’s a whole other thing entirely to ensure that the right data is included within the right email, and most importantly that there is even some data that can be pulled.
To avoid blank fields in your email campaigns or, worse, a failed segmentation, be sure to have a data engineer on your team.
The Email Team Workflow
Ultimately, the Email Team Cycle is made up of three phases:
Strategize. Create. Optimize.
Email Team Workflow: Strategize
Simply put, if you don’t have a strategy behind your email campaigns, they will not be effective. The Strategize phase starts with “Assess & Adapt” before moving on to establishing a new strategy for your next campaign.
Assess & Adapt
Unless this is your very first campaign ever, you will likely have some past campaign data to work with to help determine what worked, what didn’t, and how to improve moving forward.
This first (and last step) of the cycle involves the entire team and is managed by the Email Strategist.
This includes asking the basic questions like: did my email campaign actually get delivered to the inbox? If there was a low delivery rate, it’s important to review your email list hygiene. What emails bounced, who marked you spam, what emails were blocked? With this information, you can easily clean your lists to ensure that they do not receive future messages. This will also ensure that those who do in fact want to receive your emails will more likely get it in their inbox (vs the spam folder).
You can also assess your content. Which subject line performed best? Which image? Did certain segments perform better? All of this data can and should be used to inform your future campaigns. In the Strategize phase – data is everything.
While it is difficult to do for every single email campaign, especially if your team is involved in many emails per week, it is important to establish a recurring time to assess your campaigns as a team. Perhaps this is a weekly standup meeting (10-15min) or a bi-weekly check-in.
Regardless, at this stage, you need to ask yourself and your team these key questions:
Did we achieve our engagement goals?
What were the results of A/B Tests
What segments resulted in higher engagement?
What demographics engaged most?
Do we need to clean our contact lists based on bounces, blocks, unsubscribes, etc?
Develop Campaign Strategy
As with any project, up front, it’s essential to establish your objectives, SMART goals, and a plan of action. Of course, a strategy evolves and adapts as you implement, but you need to start somewhere.
At this stage, the Email Strategist is crucial. They are the ones responsible for developing the overall email strategy, using data from past email campaigns and other knowledge about your target audience.
The questions you are trying to solve at this stage include:
What is the primary goal for this campaign?
Who is the target audience?
What internal/external team members do you need involved?
How will you measure success?
Which elements will be tested (e.g. A/B Tests)
The Email Strategist will pull in expert advice from across the organization, including members of their email team and the larger marketing team to better understand how email fits into the bigger picture.
Email Team Workflow: Creation
The second stage is all about creation, and on top of the Email Strategist, it’s time to pull in your Copywriters, Designers, and Developers.
Establish the Design
The first step of the Creation Phase is to Establish the Design. Whether this is simply selecting a template, designing a new template, or creating a one-off email layout. The purpose here is to identify which layout will drive the most engagements based on your defined goals.
For example – if the goal of the campaign is to increase purchases (e.g. new sunglasses), then the design will need to include images of the sunglasses, some pricing information, and maybe a single CTA to ensure all traffic is funneled to the purchase page.
On the other hand, if the goal is to simply educate, then the layout could be more text-based and longer. Rather than trying to get the user out of the email as fast as possible, in this case, you’re trying to keep them in it.
It’s also important at this stage to identify what human resources will be required to fulfill the design you are building. Will all of this be possible through a click-and-drag interface, or will you need some custom code?
Write the Copy & Design Images
Once a design layout is selected, it’s time to unleash copywriters on the email. With a clear objective for what the email is attempting to accomplish, alongside the wireframe and boundaries to work within, the copywriters can focus on ensuring that the message delights, and inspires enough to lead to engagement.
The most effective email copywriters use this stage of the email creation process to do two things:
Work with the strategist and data engineer to understand what message is most likely to convert, what calls-to-action lead to the most clicks, and where you can take advantage of personalization & segmentation opportunities.
Identify what the core message you want to communicate, and understanding that the average person only looks at a promotional email subject line for 3 seconds…what message do you want to send in such a short time.
Alongside the copywriter, the designer can start working on the imagery that will be included in a campaign. What images support the message, what images are most likely to convert (based on past data), and what brand guidelines need to be followed.
It’s important to also work with the Email Developer in this phase to understand what unique design elements can be included to create an even more engaging email. For example, rather than a static image, maybe you’d like to include GIF, interactive imagery, or something like a countdown timer that would require custom code.
Either way, collaboration is key here – so be sure you understand the implications of your design
The last step of the creation process is coding the email, or better yet, simply adding in small custom code elements. Depending on whether the email could be created entirely using a drag-and-drop editor like Mailjet’s Passport, your email developer will need to put in some work.
At this stage the Email Developer will be looking at the following tasks and questions:
Convert wireframe design and content into code
What custom code is required to address the campaign goals?
Test and optimize for all devices and inboxes
Email Marketing Workflow: Optimize
The third and final stage is about the optimization of your email campaign and contact lists. While the Email Strategist will, of course, play a huge role here, you will also need to reserve time from your Data Engineer and Email Developer.
At this stage, when you have established the design and created custom content, images, and code, it’s now time to integrate your CRM or another database to ensure your campaign is optimized. This is when you will pull in your CRM Specialist (or Data Engineer) as well as your Email Developer.
Working together, they will identify opportunities to include personalization or segmentation, and make recommendations to the copywriters and designers.
If it’s a transactional email, how are you are integrating data from your website (such as purchase orders) into the email?
Ultimately, the purpose at this stage is to:
Identify and implement segmentation opportunities
Ensure CRM is integrated with your email platform
Validate data integrity and personalization
Be sure to look into our integrations to identify how to best optimize this stage.
Test & Validate
At this stage, you’ll pull in more of your team including copywriters, designers, and strategist to review the final copy and design, test the variables, confirm that the correct A/B tests are being used, and so forth.
It’s important to work closely together in real-time to reduce the amount of time spent going back and forth on things like subject lines, headings, CTAs, and so forth. Consider this a “sprint” phase where you and your team drop everything and focus on bringing the campaign to its conclusion.
Approve & Send
Finally, after all the t’s are crossed, i’s dotted, and code tested, it’s time for one person…ONE person to approve and send the email or publish the template. As much as email is a team sport, like any effective project, ultimate control and approval needs to fall on one person. This person is often the Email Strategist.
This helps avoid typos, errors, or any other number of #EmailFails that often result from rushed decision making or the wrong person reviewing the email. You wouldn’t want a designer or developer to accidentally send an email with typos. Or a copywriter to send it without considering responsive design.
Once approved – it’s time to send.
From here – you cycle back to the Strategize phase, taking a look at your performance and considering where and how to adapt for future campaigns.
While this workflow may seem like a lot of work and a lot of details for a single email, the fact is that each team goes through this entire workflow on every single email. The variance between a good email and a bad email (or a good email program and a bad one) is how details approached at each stage.
You can certainly skip over the “Develop a Strategy” or the “Approve & Send” step for instance, but there will be some long-term complications as a result.
Your individual campaigns may suffer, but your team’s habits will suffer as well. To achieve the best results, you need to build good habits. We hope you’ll use this workflow as a foundation to build good habits into your own team’s workflow.
Does this workflow align well with your own team’s workflow? How would you look at adapting it? Let us know on Twitter & Linkedin now!
Despite what you might expect from students, especially teenagers, email remains the primary channel for students researching and communicating with universities and colleges.
While students probably spend more time on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, email continues to be a preferred channel (even among students) for more professional, official, communications.
In a recent study, nearly 68 percent of teens and 73 percent of Millennials said they prefer to receive communication from a business via email. So keep the snaps and the grams for promoting your culture, building your brand, and building a community, but keep the email for the important pieces of content, and direct promotions.
Email is the preferred channel for university marketing
76% of high school students ranked email as the preferred medium for researching colleges in the United States. This far outranked direct mail, in-person seminars, phone, and messaging apps. While social media certainly plays a role in advertising and capturing the attention of students, it is not a channel used for communication.
After speaking with universities about their challenges, we wanted to go beyond some of the basics of email marketing and have compiled three unique tips to help you and your institution think through your email marketing strategy.
Use sub-accounts to manage campaigns for different departments
Maintain brand consistency across all departments
Ensure responsive design on all devices and inboxes
Higher education institutions like universities and colleges have a unique challenge on their hands when it comes to email marketing. Among other things, they are concerned with recruiting students, raising money, communicating events to existing students, engaging alumni, and, of course, educating their students.
They also operate as one brand with dozens (maybe hundreds) of separate brands, whether that is different academic departments, associations, publications, athletic teams, or housing and hospitality. Sending the right message, to the right audience, with consistent branding, and a shared voice is no easy feat.
Simplify account management by using sub-accounts
Our first tip is to implement sub-accounts on your email platform to easily separate and manage email programs across department.
Sub-accounts allow you to separate your email campaigns across different API Keys. By default, all accounts come with one active (Master) API Key where all mailings are sent through. You also have the possibility to create a second (Sub-Account) API Key for other departments, types of emails, or other unique use cases.
A university’s marketing or communications department can own the master account, and using sub-accounts and API keys, they can create separate accounts for different departments, sending needs, purposes, and users. You could have the Science department on one sub-account, the alumni relations team on another, student recruitment on another, and so forth.
When setting up your sub-accounts, here are some recommended best practices:
Use a separate API Key for Marketing & Transactional Emails
If you are sending both marketing and transactional emails on your account, you should use one API Key to send your transactional emails and another API Key for your newsletters.
In the event that one API Key has an issue (for example, a sending rate limit on your marketing campaigns), it will not interrupt the sending of your transactional emails, and vice versa.
Use separate API Keys for each Department
If you do create a master account and manage email accounts for different departments, you can assign a different API Key to each department (or even 2 API Keys to each department if they send both marketing & transactional emails).
Should an issue arise with one department’s mailings (a rate limit or sending is temporarily blocked due to abuse complaints), it will only impact their one API Key, and not your entire school’s emailing.
Separate Your Templates & Contact Lists
You can also separate templates and recipient lists into separate API Keys, and give another department access to that specific sub-account with Account Sharing. The Math department will ever have to sort through templates from Biology department. And the Fine Arts department won’t have to ever deal with the those rowdy Athletic Center emails.
Maintain brand consistency across all departments
Brand consistency is important for any organization, but perhaps is most difficult in institutions like universities, where there is no central marketing department that every department works with, or reports to. As a result, a change to a university’s brand, whether it’s large changes like logo, tagline and color scheme, or day-to-day changes like seasonal campaigns and messages, can be a difficult task to coordinate across campus.
So if your college is trying to build the brand loyalty and recognition of, say, a Harvard University, but your Sociology department sends emails with your college’s horizontal logo, and your recruitment team uses primarily green colors instead of the your core brand of red, then how do you expect to build that consistent brand recognition?
Protect your brand with locked sections and bulk template editing
All of this is to say our second tip is ensure brand consistency across all emails by using locked sections and bulk template editing.
With one master account in Mailjet and many sub-accounts for your different departments, clubs, and sports teams, you can control where and how your brand is used.
First, by using locked sections in selected templates, you can ensure that no user (without proper permissions) can edit certain blocks within an email template. For example, you could create a footer with your logo, social media links, and a recent headline and lock this section so that no other user can come in and edit the logo, the colors, or the content. You can do the same for the header section, or even content blocks throughout the email.
This ensures that no matter what department your email comes from, the end user will have a consistent experience with your brand.
Similarly, you can control your brand consistency using bulk template editing. The larger your organization, the larger your template gallery likely is. Can you imagine changing the logo, or the footer of hundreds of templates?
Do you… do you really want to imagine that?
Bulk template editing allows you to edit that section once and apply the changes to all the templates that has the same section. That way, you can easily update the consistent footer, logo, or tagline across all your emails in just one click.
Design your emails with a mobile-first approach
If there’s one thing you’ve been told too many times as a marketer for a universitty, it’s that students are on mobile devices more than desktops (or laptops, or really anything else in this world).
Alignment is Key: Opting for a single column layout will prevent you from having to re-arrange the design as the screen gets smaller. Simple is your friend.
Image Size: Images are a great way to break up text, but it can cause some problems as well. 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.
Clearly identifiable Calls-to-Action: Make primary calls to action as buttons (instead of hyperlinks) so it can be easily found and clicked with a finger on phones and tablets.
Too much text: Don’t make your recipients scroll more than 2 or 3 swipes on their device. If you have a lot of text to share, simply share a snippet in the email and add a link to read more.
Hierarchies of importance: Most emails are read for less than 3 seconds on a mobile device, so make sure you are putting your most captivating, engaging, and attention-grabbing headlines, CTAs, annd images above the fold. Don’t give your reader a reason to swipe left.
But even with all of this, you can still make some mistakes that affect responsiveness. So make sure you use an email builder or a coding framework that can do all the heavy lifting for you.
Responsive drag-and-drop email editors
Many email builders (Mailjet’s Passport included 🤠) allow you to create a well-designed email using a drag-and-drop interface. These editors (the best ones at least) will automatically ensure the sent emails are optimized for any device and inbox.
You could also code your emails if you want to go above and beyond, or create some custom designs. This is great, but coding for responsive design can be tedious because there is not a global standard amongst inboxes and devices on how to render emails. For example, an email will look one way in Gmail, and another way in Outlook; one way on Gmail’s Android app, and another on a Macbook.
This tedious process led our Product Team at Mailjet to look for ways to make coding responsive emails easier. This is how and why MJML was born, the leading responsive email markup language.
Using everything you know about HTML, MJML simplifies the code for you so you don’t have to worry about writing lines beyond lines of code to accommodate different devices and inboxes. An email that could be hundreds of lines of code, can be written in less than 50. Speed matters.
It’s no secret how important email marketing is to universities, from recruitment and fundraising to simply communicating campus activities. As a marketer in universities, you already understand this, however hopefully this article outlined some of the often overlooked aspects of email marketing in universities.
Namely – how to optimize your email platform, create efficiencies by managing all email under one platform, maintain control of your brand across departments, and of course how to design and code responsive emails.
This semester’s exam is a practical exam. You can choose your own assignment, either:
We’re less than a month away from one of the biggest marketing moments of the year (oh, and I guess one of the biggest days in American sports too).
The Super Bowl, set for February 3rd this year, is one of those few days in the year where nearly everyone’s attention will be on one event. Reaching over 100M viewers every year, the Super Bowl brings in nearly 3x the traffic you can expect from other major events like the Oscars, NBA Finals, or a regular season football game. The best performing TV show might reach 15-16M, but nothing ever comes close to the Super Bowl on an annual basis. Ok yes, the FIFA World Cup Final certainly outperforms the Super Bowl with a global audience of 163M in 2018, but this is not only a global event but an event that only takes place once every four years.
The point is, the Super Bowl presents a rare opportunity for you as a marketer, and given email marketing continues to drive the highest ROI compared to other marketing channels (yes, including social media, digital advertising, and, of course, Super Bowl commercials), it’s a rare opportunity to leverage this event to drive more conversions from email.
In this post, we’ll help get you ready for this event with some tips on how to optimize the impact you can get from your email campaigns before, during, and after the Super Bowl. We’ll also take a look at some tips for your Superbowl email subject lines.
Preparing Your Email Strategy for the Super Bowl
In the lead up to the Super Bowl there is a lot you can do to ensure that both you, and your customers are ready for the big game.
Roughly half of the Americans that watch the Super Bowl plan to do so at a party, that means over 50M people will be out of their house, bringing food, drinks, and gifts. In fact, 79% of people plan to spend money on food, beverages, or other merchandise. As you can imagine, spending on Super Bowl Sunday has gone up every year and is up over 60% in the last decade. In 2018 spending reached $15.3B with 25-34 year olds spending the most, with an average of $118.43 each.
To capture your share of this pie, you need to anticipate your customers needs and wants for the day, and help them spend their money the best way. This could include sending relevant and personalized sales a couple days or weeks ahead of time, like deals on dip bowls, food, big screen TVs, or streaming packages.
Or you could help your customers have a stress-free day by letting them pre-order certain items ahead of time, like pizza or wings.
Almost as important as getting your customers ready for the Super Bowl is getting you and your marketing team ready as well. As you’ll see in the next section, there are many marketing opportunities during the game that you’ll want to be ready for, and as our VP of Sales always likes to say: “In anything, Preparation is 90% of your Success!”
There are a lot of knowns and predictable moments in lead up to the Super Bowl, and you should use this to your advantage. We’ll start off easy:
We know the kick off time is 6:30pm EST on February 3rd.
We know it’s taking place in Atlanta GA and will be broadcast on CBS.
We know football games are usually three hours long, so a good guess is that the halftime will take place at 8pm EST and will feature Maroon 5 and Travis Scott.
We know that 1 in 3 people over the age of 35 will be checking their email during the game, and that over 80% of people will be on their phone multiple times throughout the game.
But let’s go beyond this.
We also know who will be advertising during the Super Bowl, as AdWeek is tracking everything they know about upcoming commercials.
Because of this we know, for example, that Toyota will have a commercial talking about their RAV4, and if this spot is relevant to your brand in any way you can adjust your messaging to stay relevant. The same is true for Colgate’s ad or Budweiser’s.
Ultimately, with all of this information up front you canbegin to plan your email campaigns accordingly. If you want engagement on your site, you can schedule a campaign to go out three hours before the game to advertise last minute deals. If you want to take advantage of moment marketing, you could get your design team ready with images, related to football or the halftime show so you’re ready to quickly send a relevant email campaign at a moment’s notice.
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
Taking Advantage of Email During the Super Bowl
There is a lot happening when the game is on, and of course people are distracted. While, as we already mentioned, many people are actually checking their email and social media during the game and the commercials, you are going to see a noticeable drop in engagement during the game.
Make Sure Your Emails Are Mobile Friendly
Moveable Ink put together a really interesting study to look at if and how people are engaging with email during Super Bowl Sunday. They found that email open rates on Super Bowl Sunday were on par with open rates you can expect any other Sunday throughout the year. However, they did find that emails were opened much more frequently on smartphones and tablets than on desktop devices during this time.
Make it easy for people to go to your website or buy your product on a mobile device if you’re planning on sending on Super Bowl Sunday.
Take Advantage of Retargeting with Email
While of course social media, like Twitter, has quickly become the digital channel people are engaging with during the Super Bowl to discuss the game and the commercials, they are often engaging with brands, websites, and search.
Patrick Tripp, senior product marketing manager at Adobe Campaign explains why: “They’re using their mobile device to enhance their viewing experience by researching the celebrities and brands, new products/services making their big debut and more. Most importantly — in addition to all of this second-screen activity — they’re checking their email during the Super Bowl.”
While you can certainly take advantage of the fact that your customers are potentially reading your emails during the game, it’s more important that you are leveraging re-marketing and contact capture opportunities that occur during the game.
For example, if someone is reading an article you wrote about the Super Bowl on your site during the game, or are researching your products, make sure you set up transactional emails or automation workflows with promotions or calls to action to keep them engaged.
Kraft’s Family Greatly Twitter campaign last year directed people to a landing page where they were promoting an email newsletter with easy and delicious recipes.
Patrick Tripp from Adobe explains further. “With the right tools, marketers can create more than a spike in social mentions, but actually boost the bottom line by remarketing in email to create more meaningful, relevant engagements, leveraging insights they already have about the consumers’ interest in the game — from the team they’re rooting for to the brands they’re researching and possible online shopping carts they’ve abandoned.”
Moment Marketing at the Super Bowl
Finally, there is of course moment marketing, making sure you are ready to jump on relevant moments from the game. Oreo won this game in 2013 with their “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” Twitter post during 2013’s Super Bowl power outage, but many brands can take advantage of these moments on both social media and email to leverage a shared experience for brand awareness and engagement.
To do this right, you’ll need to have your email marketing team ready, maybe launch a “war room” at the office to watch the game, have some pizza (maybe even some beer) and be on the ready to quickly design a new campaign and write some new copy to capitalize on the shared conversation happening online.
Maximize Impact After The Super Bowl is Done
Once the game is done, your work is not.
It’s only starting, actually. One way to understand this is to look at how people interact with advertisers before and after the game. During the game, Millennials are the most likely to visit an advertisers website, whereas Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers are far more likely to engage with your brand right after, or even up to one week after.
Be Apart of the On-Going Conversion
While we can’t all be advertisers at the Super Bowl, there are opportunities to take advantage of the discussion happening online about the game, the commercials, the players, and the brands. You can send campaigns that reference those moments from the game, that follow up on your social media posts, or maybe even email out your own (much cheaper) Super Bowl commercial with a YouTube link.
Either way, over 100M Americans are riding high from an event – take this opportunity to start and/or continue a conversation with them.
Piggy Back Off of Major Brand Awareness
Another massive opportunity, depending on your industry is to leverage the good will of the advertisers for your own products and services.
Super Bowl commercials are often more about pushing a new idea or concept, as much as they are about pushing a specific brand or product. For example, Amazon’s fantastic 2018 Super Bowl commercial for Alexa was as much about the future of the connected home and voice control as it was about a specific Amazon product. In fact they never actually name the product in the ad (the Amazon Echo).
Brands who don’t have $5M to spare on a Super Bowl ad, but with an interest in the connected home industry, can piggyback off of the attention smart speakers and connected devices will now have in the zeitgeist. It often doesn’t need to be a competing company, it’s almost more impactful if you are a completely different product entirely.
For example, if you sell smart thermostats, maybe send an campaign after with the subject line “Our smart thermostats never lose their voice”.
We know which brands will be advertising during the Super Bowl, and in fact we will likely already be able to see the actual commercial since they are commonly leaked ahead of time (whether intentionally or not). Major brands will be pushing new ideas and new industries. Identify where your brand can jump into this new window to capitalize on this new concept awareness.
Subject Line Tips for Your Email Campaigns
Finally, one of the most frequently asked questions about email marketing is how to write the perfect subject line. On a crowded marketing day like Super Bowl Sunday, standing out with good copy is even more important.
According to CoSchedule, 35% of recipients open emails based on subject lines alone. So what can you do to try to capture attention and inspire action? Here are a couple of tips that you can incorporate into your campaigns. We’ll apply each of these tips to the same Super Bowl themed email campaign.
Our case study will be a Home & Decor shop advertising their sale on beer mugs for your Super Bowl party.
Here are the beautiful mugs, and below are ways you can use subject lines to maximize sales. We’ve created a few examples under each tip.
This is obviously easier said than done, but there is always a way to generate curiosity with your subject lines, and it’s often a matter of reconceptualizing the same question in a slightly different way.
❌ Beer mugs on Sale This Week
✅ Here is one item you’ll need for your Super Bowl party
Create Urgency & Scarcity
By creating urgency or scarcity, you are creating a small window for your customers to click. Anything that makes them think they can deal with this later reduces your chances of them coming back to your email. This is especially true for emails on a mobile device – act or lose them forever. In fact, subject lines with words that imply time sensitivity (e.g. “urgent”, “breaking”, “important” or “alert”) are proven to increase email open rates….but careful not to sound spammy. If they expect to hear from you, then this won’t be a problem.
❌ We have all the beer mugs you need for the big game
✅ Today Only! One item you’ll need for your Super Bowl party
We’ve said it a thousand times by now, but you should always be personal with your customers. Personalized email messages can improve your click-through-rates by 15% and your conversion rates by 10%. Often you will have the person’s name, so use this in the subject. Many brands also have much more information they can use such as transaction history, and city.
❌ Beer mugs on sale for the big game!
✅ Mike – we have Boston’s best selling mugs on sale today only
Kick Off Your Team’s Super Bowl Campaigns
Mailjet is devoted to helping teams send their emails faster, together. As you prepare for the Super Bowl, and all of 2019’s upcoming marketing moments, it will be more important than ever to have your entire email team on the same page. Be sure to check out our Collaboration Toolkit to help build your campaigns in real time and get ready for the biggest marketing moment of the year.
What email strategies will you employ for the Super Bowl? Tell us all about your own #SuperBowlEmails on Twitter!
In an age of tweets, memes and fast fact overload, there’s something refreshing about podcasts as a medium to keep up with the ideas and knowledge you need in your life, and in your work. It also certainly beats reading another ebook, company memo, or… blog post? Oh no… 🤔
Anyways, in those transition moments throughout the day, like commuting, walking, exercising or cooking, podcasts allow you to keep up with some of the brightest minds in digital marketing.
2018 was yet another high watermark for podcasting, especially in North America, as more and more people are consuming podcasts.In fact, 1 in 4 Americans now listen to podcasts regularly. Understandably, brands, educators, and media companies are all jumping into this medium and, thankfully for us, they are also dropping some gold nuggets for digital marketers.
If you’re a little overwhelmed with the amount of podcasts out there, we’ve got you covered. Rather than putting together yet another list of the top 10 podcasts that you can find everywhere, we’ll go one step further and recommend specific episodes that will really get the gears moving in your mind. Maybe after listening to one, you’ll dig deeper into the show’s full catalogue.
At Mailjet, we believe that great marketers (and of course great email marketers) are those that are great copywriters, are authentic, work well in teams, and can think outside the box. As a result, in this post we try to cover all of these bases and we’ve shared episodes that span from wonky conversations among marketing practitioners, to in-depth interviews with industry thought leaders, to highly produced documentaries and stories.
In all honesty, we could have picked any podcast that was able to get Seth Godin for even 10 minutes, but we wanted to highlight this show in particular. Duct Tape Marketing is hosted by John Jantsch and has been around since 2009, well before podcasts became a necessity for all marketing brands. It’s a weekly podcast with past guests like Guy Kawasaki, Neil Patel, and Ann Handley.
Why This Episode?
The Seth Godin episode will help you rethink how you approach marketing and branding. Even in a world where the majority of marketers are millennials, we are still stuck in the traps of the 90s – trying to interrupt our prospects, as opposed to building a brand. Here’s one stand-out moment from the episode.
Think, right now, of a logo that you admire. Let’s say, you’re talking to a designer. Think of a logo. I’m going to bet you, 10 to 1 odds, that the logo you thought of is not a pretty logo but is in fact something that adorns a brand that you care about. This brand you care about, why do you care about it? Why do you pay extra for it? Why do you cross the street to engage with them?
Gary Vee is many things, and if you’ve ever heard him speak at an event, seen him on Instagram, or stumbled upon one of his posts on Linkedin, you’ve probably formed an opinion of his approach. Whatever you feel about him and his content though, Gary Vee has a singular view on modern branding and marketing.
Why This Episode?
While there are many episodes that you should listen to in Gary Vee’s catalogue, an episode from earlier this year takes you to Facebook’s office in London, UK, for Gary’s keynote talk on how to effectively market to your target audience.
The first 100 ads on TV were radio ads, because creative agencies hadn’t figured out what a TV ad is.
We are reinventing the marketing medium and channels everyday. Radio to TV was one slow change. AdWords to Facebook, to Linkedin, to Snapchat, to Instagram, (and ironically) back to Radio (Podcasts) has been much faster. These channels demand different approaches, and, in this episode, Gary outlines how you can avoid making the same mistakes of the past – making radio ads for TV…or TV ads for Instagram.
Wonk Out on Marketers Talking Marketing
In the Wonk Out section of this article, we’ve outlined three great podcast episodes that will help give you a pretty in-depth look at marketing. Here are a few great conversations from marketing practitioners discussing everything from how to set up a lead generation funnel, to building a brand from scratch, to leveraging Lebron James’ Instagram account to build the NBA brand.
But what they’ve have also built is an incredibly strong podcast that brings together thoughtful minds and people “who are making a dent in the universe”. New episodes every Tuesday cover topics like the future of voice interfaces, immersive storytelling, the chaos of the advertising industry, and how brands can engage customers in 2018 and beyond.
Why This Episode?
In this episode, Builders pulls together a roundtable of CMOs including Joanna Lord (CMO, Classpass), Pam El (CMO, NBA), Emily Culp (Former CMO, Keds), Linda Boff (CMO, GE), and Christina Carbonell (Co-Founder, Primary.com).
Part of being relevant is being in the right place at the right time. It’s not ever about an ad, it’s a lot about where is our content being served up where people want to see it. And want to see more. So we spend a lot of time thinking what will go on Instagram. vs what will go on Facebook.
Social media company Buffer has consistently stood out as a brand that puts out fantastic content and adds value to marketers of all stripes. While social media is at the heart of their brand and their podcast, “Science of Social Media”, it often delves into many other areas of interest for marketers of stripes. Whether it’s “9 Marketing Ideas That Don’t Include Blogging” or the “A to Z’s of Influencer Marketing”, there is always 1-2 tidbits you can take from their episodes.
Why This Episode?
An episode from earlier this year that captures this idea well (and one we’re especially interested in here at Mailjet) is “7 invaluable marketing skills for teams”, which includes skills like storytelling, collaboration, and experimentation. The best part, though, is the podcast’s length – a brisk 10-20 minutes, just enough time for a run or walk to the coffee shop.
If you’re in B2B SaaS Marketing and don’t listen to the Growth Hub Podcast, subscribe now. This podcast from Advance B2B features interviews with leading experts in SaaS from companies like Trello, Drift, and Slack, to get behind-the-scenes insights into their growth stories.
While there are a seemingly endless list of podcasts out there that talk about growth and startups, or entrepreneurship in general, many can be unrelateable and live in the clouds a little bit. The Growth Hub Podcast truly lives in the weeds, and explores the practical day-to-day approaches modern marketers are taking to solve problems, attract audiences, and grow their market.
Why This Episode?
The episode with Bill Macaitis is a fantastic look at what it takes to build a brand from scratch, and how to build a category, as Slack has done in workplace communications. While this episode may be especially valuable to B2B SaaS brands who can learn directly from Bill’s lessons from Slack and ZenDesk, his insights into how content can drive growth, how to measure brand campaigns, and how to be a customer-centric organization are insights that are valuable across all product and service categories.
Seeking Wisdom is a podcast from conversational marketing leaders Drift, and often delves into the day-to-day ideas, conversations, and debates between Drift’s VP of Marketing Dave Gerhart and their CEO David Cancel. Their banter and endless recommendations on books, blogs, and experiments to run is well worth a Subscribe on it’s own.
What differentiates Seeking Wisdom from just about any other brand-produced podcast is their willingness to experiment with new shows and formats. This year, Drift launched a mini-documentary series within their Seeking Wisdom channel called Exceptions. Exceptions is an audio documentary series produced in partnership between Drift and writer/podcast host Jay Acunzo, which goes inside some of the world’s best B2B companies to understand how and why they’re building exceptional brands.
Seeing a brand like Drift put so much energy and thoughtfulness into an elaborate, well-produced, story-first podcast like Exceptions really shows how far this medium has come and the power podcasts themselves can have in driving brand.
Why This Episode?
The one episode we wanted to highlight is Episode 2 of their first season (P.S. Exceptions was renewed for a second season!). This episode features Wistia, a video hosting and analytics platform, and a brand that has continued to innovate on how they themselves use video for marketing purposes.
Like all episodes in this series, before launching into a conversation with Wistia’s team to learn about their approaches, Jay first sits down with some of Wistia’s customers to hear their perspectives on Wistia’s product and brand.
Afterall, one definition of a brand is “the customer (or potential customers) perspective of a product, service, experience, or organization.” The best way to measure brand is to measure customer perspectives. Perhaps, this exchange best summaries how Wistia has built their brand:
Jay: What would you say is the Wistia brand if it were a person?
Customer: My daughter, smart, helpful, and the person the classroom everyone turns too.
CEO of Wistia: The nerdy friend you trust. You’re watching to see what they will do next.
You probably already know Freakonomics the book(s), and you may already know Freakonomics Radio. While this podcast spans well beyond the confines of marketing, there are often tidbits in each one of their shows that can help marketers better understand human behavior and decision-making. Some episodes can also help marketers much more directly, like their episode on “How to be Creative”.
Why This Episode?
In this episode (the first in a series looking at Creativity), they identify that creativity is “essentially novelty that works. It has to be somehow feasible, workable, valuable, appropriate to a goal.” As marketers, we’re constantly trying to come up with not only good ideas, out-of-the-box ideas, but ones that can operate within constraints. Whether it’s budget or team abilities.
One lesson you can take out of this episode is that to unlock your full creative potential, you need to get out of your bubble. That’s why it’s important to not only listen to podcasts on B2B SaaS if you’re a SaaS marketing, or podcasts on design if you’re a designer. Listen to podcasts with diverse perspectives, informed by experience radically different than yours. Here you can identify novel ideas and then figure out how to make them work in your context.
Our friends over at Really Good Emails recently launched their podcast and have been interviewing practitioners and experts in the space of email, email design, and email deliverability. Be sure to check it out!
Marketing Over Coffee is a weekly podcast that covers both classic and new marketing. Hosts John J. Wall and Christopher S. Penn record the show in a local coffee shop and frequently dig into the latest ideas and trends in email marketing, search engine optimization, copywriting, and more.
New Years Resolution
In an age of information overload and endless entertainment, it may be difficult to choose to listen to a podcast about marketing… after spending all day actually doing said marketing. But the wealth of knowledge that is available in your pocket right now is massive, and of course this list only scratches the surface. Also, with podcasts you can multi-task and learn while you cook, exercise, walk the dog or, hey, even when you’re working.
This New Year’s, take a look at those moments in your day where you can add podcasts to your life and, if you’re like many avid podcast fans out there, you’ll realize there are about 5-10 hours every week where you can literally listen in on some of the world’s leading experts, thinkers, and speakers on topics of interest to you.
Let us know what you find – post your favorite episodes on Twitter or Linkedin – we’d love to share them wide!
Email marketing is increasingly becoming a team sport as email has shifted from plain text memos to HTML layouts, and now to dynamic content. There is more people involved in any single campaign than ever before, so it’s time to take stock of who’s on your team and what role they play.
Take a look at your inbox right now. For every email you see, there were (on average) 11 people who contributed to ensuring that email is well designed, communicates the right messages, adapts perfectly to your inbox, is personalized to you, and is sent to you at just the right time. Sounds like a lot, right?
When sending your own campaigns, it’s important to know who each of these people are, what skills are required in each role, and when to best engage them in the process.
We’ve outlined a (non-exhaustive) list of the different roles you need on your team. Ultimately though, your team is unique so take a look at the skills each person can bring to the table.
Just as most of our blogs on email marketing tips start with the recommendation to have a strategy, we’ll start with the most important tip of all for coming up with the ideal email team: have a strategist!
To avoid being one of the many flailing brands that send out email without any kind of coherent strategy or even a plan, you will need someone on your team devoted to thinking about the big picture. The Strategist is involved from A to Z, from how email will play a role in your business to the final word in campaigns.
At Mailjet, we work closely with our customers’ email strategists to help them think through the fundamentals of email strategy. Depending on your business, this includes when email is used in your product, service, marketing, and sales, how frequently emails should be sent, how segmentation and personalization can be used, how to maximize deliverability, and much, much more.
For example, at Product Hunt, their email strategist is responsible for thinking through how email fits into their marketing, it’s product, and its value to partners.
For example, what is the strategy behind the Daily Newsletter? When should they be sent to optimize open rates? What types of subject lines work best? Should we personalize the subject line or the content? If so, where and how do we personalize?
Similarly, the Email Strategist at Product Hunt needs to consider when to send email notifications to their users. Should an email be sent every time their product is liked or reviewed? Maybe there should be a daily digest of new followers and upvotes, or maybe users themselves should decide what notifications they would like to receive.
These questions are seemingly endless, especially for a brand like Product Hunt that has baked email into both their marketing and product strategy. The same questions likely apply to your brand as well, whether you’re deciding when to send abandoned cart emails, or what data you can use to segment users.
At the end of the day, you need a Strategist to take control of your email campaigns, and ensure it continually drives forward your goals.
Special Tips for Email Strategists
Take control of your email campaigns through role management to customize the permissions of each member of your team and never send a campaign without final approval from the Strategist.
2. The Email Designer
A designer, like always, is tasked with the look and feel of the email, but unlike standard web design, social media design, print, and so forth, designing for email requires knowledge of how the design will look on different devices. This will require close collaboration with the developers and the strategist to ensure the design is not only responsive across desktop and mobile, but also across different inboxes like Gmail, Outlook, and the many mobile inboxes that exist.
The designer is then responsible for taking the vision outlined by the Strategist and designing a series of templates that best communicate the message, are brand aligned, and flexible to a variety of content, including long-form writing, GIFs, videos, and variables for segmentation and personalization.
The responsibilities of the designer include:
Working with the strategist to identify the core objectives of each campaign.
Designing the initial template and layout for each campaign and workflows (e.g. a template for a newsletter, subscription confirmation, password resets, receipts, notifications, reminders, sales and special offers, and more).
Overseeing consistency in brand and message across all campaigns, and ensuring changes made to the brand (e.g. logo, color, tagline, etc.) are updated across all platforms in a timely fashion.
Special Tip for Email Designers
Be sure to use Mailjet’s Bulk Template Editor to apply changes from one template to all of your templates. For example, if you are updating your logo or a banner image in your password resets, with one click you can apply this to all other relevant templates.
3. The Copywriter(s)
While each of the below roles and certainly the above roles are incredibly important to your email team, perhaps in the modern days of marketing there is no one more important than the copywriter(s).
The designer will scoff, the strategist will say it’s the whole package that matters, and you know what – it’s kind of true. The whole team brings something to the table but at the end of the day a good message with well-written copy will cut through.
The email could be plain text and not at all personalized, but if the copy is strong you could see the highest engagement of any campaign.
Good design with bad copy? Personal message but bad copy? Unfortunately, this formula leads to crickets.
A little hat tip to Neil Patel for the video below about what makes good copywriting and how it can better drive conversions in not only your emails, but also your landing pages, social media posts, and more.
Within the email team, you can expect much more than one person is responsible for the copy, especially on emails like newsletters, which can be aggregating content from across the company.
While more hands on deck can mean more productivity and more creative ideas, it can also lead to a disjointed message, so we’d recommend you assign one copywriting lead to be responsible for coordinating the content, assigning responsibilities, strategizing on the consistency of tone, and proofreading the final product.
Special Tip for Email Copywriters
Copywriting is a team sport, so be sure to use tools designed to make it easier, faster, and more collaborative. Mailjet’s real-time collaboration and in-app commenting will allow all of your copywriters to quickly hustle on the copy in your upcoming campaign all at the same time.
4. The Email Developer
The Developer floats in and out of the planning and implementation phases of an email campaign.
They work closely with the strategist and designer off the top to ensure that the objective of an email campaign be accomplished with the variables we have in place. They also ensure that the design will in fact be responsive to different devices and inboxes. Finally, they take control of optimization practices to ensure things like segmentation are properly set up, and necessary integrations are enabled.
With so many potential integrations into your email service provider, whether it’s your CRM, ecommerce platform, or data aggregators, it’s more important (and more difficult) than ever to ensure that your email stack is perfectly functioning, and all necessary tools are optimized for upcoming campaigns.
If good copywriting is the core of a good campaign, good integrations is the fairy dust that makes an email campaign truly magical. It allows for personalization, detailed analytics, and nurturing which can turn a good campaign into a great campaign.
The Developer also works closely with the designer to ensure the email template looks good, is brand aligned, and responsive across all platforms. This has historically been pretty difficult to do given the limitations of inboxes. For example, the vast majority of inboxes do not allow for video, images adapt in ways you might not expect, and fonts might not work everytime.
Responsive email languages like MJML have emerged to help make this process much easier, ensuring that one line of code will result in good design and responsiveness across any platform. While HTML emails require seemingly endless lines of code to accommodate all platforms, simple languages like MJML accomplish the same thing with a fraction of the code.
Together with Mailjet, MJML also makes collaboration between developers, designers, and strategist that much easier, since MJML can be adapted into a drag-and-drop format once the developer is done with the code, and the marketers needs to jump in to create the content.
Special Tips for Email Developers
No surprise here, but be sure to check out MJML if you haven’t already. MJML is responsive by design on most popular email clients and lets you write less code, save time, and code more efficiently. To make the most out of MJML, be sure to also join our MJML Slack Channel.
5. The Data Engineer
Finally, the Data Engineer plays a crucial role in helping the developer make the most of the integrations, and the Strategist understand performance of campaigns.
It’s one thing for a developer and a strategist to include a [First Name] variable, or a personalized image, or message based on a segment. However it’s a whole other thing entirely to ensure that the right data is included within the right email, and most importantly that there is even some data that can be pulled.
To avoid blank fields in your email campaigns or, worse, a failed segmentation, be sure to have a data engineer on your team.
This role will likely expand well beyond just email and include all of your communication channels. But when it comes to email, there is so much opportunity in using data to ensure these are sent to the right people, at the right time, with the right message.
The Data Engineer also needs to look at performance data to improve future campaigns, and also to see opportunities to further use data to personalize and optimize campaigns. For example, having someone review stats for each campaign, you can identify what times and days of the week work best, what type of subject lines performs best, where personalization works, etc.
At the end of the day, your email team is likely unique, and is not represented perfectly in these five roles.
Perhaps you have a project manager who oversees the entire campaign and has ultimate authority over when a template is complete and ready to publish. Or you have an agency who manages your messaging and branding and so needs special access to your email campaigns and templates.
Maybe you have a Customer Success Manager (like Kyle at Mailjet. Hi Kyle!) that frequently checks in to ensure you campaigns are sending properly, you are reaching the inbox, and maintaining proper sending and list collection practices.
Whatever your team looks like, the point is it’s a team of people that will make sure you email campaigns continue to drive revenue and engagement. Too many businesses either rely on one person to manage the entire process or, more realistically, they seem to think only one person is involved.
We recently commissioned a study on how marketing teams create and send email, and we found that on average a campaign involves 11 people and goes through five revisions. The question then becomes: if so many people are involved in a campaign, how are you ensuring your team is working as productively, efficiently, and creatively as possible?
Our advice: work together.
Be sure to take a look at our new Collaboration Toolkit to discover how teams can email better together, as well as our post on the collaboration tools our team at Mailjet uses. Perhaps you’ll come up with some ideas of your own on how to make your email team stronger than ever.
Now it’s your turn – how many people work in email in your company? How do you collaborate? Let us know on Twitter, we’d love to hear from you and your team!
One of the exciting parts about Mailjet is the fact that everyday we get to work with colleagues all around the world, from Ho Chi Minh, to Paris, to Barcelona, to Toronto (I didn’t forget you Dusseldorf, New York, Amsterdam, and London – it’s just more poetic to list 4, than all 8).
The challenge with working with teams literally all around the world, though, is ensuring we keep up to date on projects, effectively communicate, and keep our culture alive. Thankfully, we live in an age where team collaboration is baked into almost all workplace apps, and you can find some pretty incredible tools to bring the team closer together, and in the process increase your productivity.
Let’s be honest, there are countless lists out there of the best collaboration tools, often written by someone sitting behind a computer and regurgitating someone else’s ideas.
To dig a bit deeper and make it a bit more real, we thought we would survey our entire team to get an honest look at those online collaboration tools our own company uses and loves to bring their team together. This post is about the CollaborationStack™ that Mailjet uses – and would we love to hear about your own #CollaborationStack on Twitter.
Collaboration Tools at Mailjet
At Mailjet we have seven distinct teams and after surveying each team about their favorite collaboration tools, and how they use it within their team, it became very clear that each team collaborates very differently.
For this survey, our teams are Product, Customer Success, Marketing, Customer Support, Sales, Deliverability & Compliance, and Legal, HR, and Admin.
Across all teams, communication and project creation tools jumped to the top as the most loved collaboration tools. We asked teams to rate the tools they use many times each week and can say they truly love. While the Marketing team overwhelming marked Mailjet as their favorite collaboration tool (those sneaky marketers), we also wanted to dig into the rest of the #CollaborationStack.
We’ve then outlined some of the reasons behind why our team absolutely loves these tools, why they cannot live without them, and how we think teams of all sizes (whether remote or not) can take advantage of these powerful tools to bring in a deeper culture of collaboration.
Most used collaboration tools at Mailjet
Slack: Keeping Teams Together
How do I put this gently? Slack absolutely destroyed. Everyone at Mailjet loves Slack as not only a communications tool, but as a way to build culture across remote teams.
“Slack is great for international teams to communicate in real time. I don’t know if it’d be possible to do my job in an efficient manner without it.” – Product Team
At Mailjet, we use Slack across the entire company to keep a running conversation on projects, across teams, and between colleagues. By separating teams into channels and creating private channels for specific projects, teams can quickly jump in and out of conversations to ensure they have the latest information, and can keep informed of discussions without having to be in the room.
As teams grow in size, they inherently become less connected and projects become more fragmented. Slack has become Mailjet’s primary tool to help deal with this scaling as a team, whether it’s using the live video chat for team meetings and Sandwich Lunches, using the Twitter bot to make sure we never miss a comment from our customers and partners, or sharing random images in our #wrongroom channel.
2. G Suite: Collaborate in Real Time
There really isn’t much more to say about G Suite and it’s tools Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drive, that hasn’t been said by many before. If your team isn’t using G Suite (or comparable tools like Dropbox Paper) then you’re definitely missing out on the benefits of real-time collaboration, version control, tracking changes, and more.
As with many growing companies, and especially SaaS companies like Mailjet, our team works in spurts to hammer out documents, presentations, and spreadsheets together in real-time. In fact, it is difficult to be productive in today’s working environment unless you’re working together in real time.
“I really appreciate G Suite because I can work in real-time with others from all over the world and directly see what has been added, changed or deleted.” – Customer Success Team
Gone are the days of ‘Writing a document. Saving. Closing. Attaching to an email. Then going about other business.’
Now are the days of ‘Pinging your colleagues. Jumping into a shared document. Edit together. Add comments. Resolve comments. Review. Finalize.’
According to Google, 74% of all time spent in Docs, Sheets and Slides is on collaborative work – that is, multiple people creating and editing content together.
This is certainly true for Mailjet’s documents and projects. In fact, this blog is being written in Google Docs and I can assure you that this sentence was hotly debated in the comments.
3. Trello: Manage All Projects
Third in our rankings was Trello, the project management tool built for teams to collaborate on projects, tasks, and ideas using boards.
Mailjet uses Trello across many departments, but it’s primarily loved in our Marketing, Product, and Customer Success teams. Ultimately, the reason boils down to how simple the tool is to use, how flexible and adaptable it is across any project, and how the visual medium makes it super easy to understand and contribute to.
“I love Trello because it’s at the same time really simple and really flexible to use. You can manage a team, a project, or your life!” – Marketing Team
Many people talked about how Trello can be used for not only work projects but home projects as well, whether it’s grocery lists, side projects, travel plans, or home improvement. This is increasingly true of many great collaboration tools like Slack, G Suite, and Trello, but also increasingly apps like AirBnB have launched a set of collaboration tools designed to help make travelling as a group easier.
One of our many use cases for Trello is within our Design team who use Trello to organize and prioritize design projects. Whenever we have a design need (such as a new social media image, website update, animation, or printouts) we immediately jump into Trello to lay out all the project in as much depth as possible.
As an example, if we need a new printout for an upcoming event, we can create a mockup of the design and attach it to the Trello Card, add a Google Doc with all the written content already complete, and assign a due date for the project. Our Design team then gets a notification that a new project has been added and they can ask any questions right within Trello.
Having spent the last year trying to plan design projects just within a Slack channel, our Design team was getting a little sick of the chaos. Slack is great for ongoing project conversations, but not so great for organizing single tasks – this is where Trello really fills the gap.
We’ve created a Public Trello Board for you and your Design team based on how Mailjet organizes design projects. You can access everything from the different boards we use (e.g. New Projects, In Process, and Complete),to our ReadMe card which lays out how your team can communicate projects succinctly and effectively to your Design team.
Github was only used by 22% of the Mailjet team, but given Github is tailor made for developer teams, this makes sense.
Github is a cloud repository for developers to work together to host and review code, manage projects, and build software together. Similar to how G Suite solved the issue of version controls on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, Github manages versions (or forks) of code and software, allowing teams to create new versions of code, review, comment, and eventually implement into projects.
For Mailjet, what’s most interesting about Github is actually our ability to not only collaborate internally but to also collaborate with our customers and partners. Mailjet’s Github account features projects (or more accurately, “repositories”) for plugins and other projects that are of interest to our network and need to be constantly refined. For example, our WordPress Plugin is frequently updated due to the high interest from our network.
Users can contribute to the repository, add comments, recommend changes and so forth. This is certainly more efficient than emailing recommendations to a generic email address (e.g. email@example.com), it brings teams together from all over to ensure our tools are beneficial and up to date for our users.
Mailjet’s MJML Github is also highly active, with 60 contributors helping build MJML as the world’s leading responsive email framework. Our Product team also keeps an active public product roadmap to keep users up to date on what is being built, when it may be released, and so forth – allowing our community to help prioritize and build the future of MJML.
5. Mailjet: Collaborate on Email
Finally, our Marketing team has become avid users of our own collaboration toolkit at Mailjet. Our collaboration features bring everything that teams have come to love about tools like Google Docs and Trello, all within an email builder.
This includes real-time collaboration and in-app commenting, so teams can sprint on an email campaign together, all at once.
It also includes user roles and permissions so that certain members of your team can only access certain controls or sections to ensure that the best possible email is sent. For example, an intern may not have access to the design and layout, while only the Email Team Lead can ultimately push ‘Send’ on an email.
Similar to Google Docs you can also track changes and easily manage templates so that if a change was wrongfully made to a template you can easily revert back to old versions, or if you would like to apply a change to all templates (e.g. if you’ve updated your logo) you can do so with one easy click.
Ultimately, alongside each of the above tools, we use Mailjet’s collaboration features on a daily basis to create the perfect template for on-boarding new users or sending our weekly blog newsletter.
Specifically, if you subscribe to our newsletter, you will receive a rundown of important new blogs, events, webinars, and more. Each week, our team works together to ensure the copy is perfect, the design is on-brand, the A/B tests are optimized, and the links are correct. In a world where email campaigns can involve as much as 11 contributors and five iterations, we’re excited to have a tool that makes emailing as a team faster and easier (we just so happen to have been the ones to build it 😉).
When we conducted our survey, the thing we noticed immediately was that collaboration was baked into almost all the tools our team uses. While Slack, G Suite, Trello, Github, and Mailjet were the most actively used and loved tools, there were a few others that our team simply couldn’t live without.
Asana was used by many across the company as another way of managing projects and tasks in a very similar way to Trello, however was particularly helpful for teams planning our projects across timelines and dates, such as a content calendar or social media schedule.
Invision is a fantastic app used by our Product and Design team to collaboratively design user experiences, apps, websites in real time.
Spendesk is an all-in-one business spending tool that helps finance teams collaborate better with the rest of their business. Designed to make managing expenses, reports, and tracking much easier, Spendesk is a great for large and growing teams.
Evernote is a popular app for our team looking to keep shared notebooks and folders, particularly when planning out ideas and campaigns. For example, our Customer Success team can keep a shared notebook on stories from our customers segmented by industry, or country, or size, so there is a one-stop repository for quotes and requests from our customers.
We’ve told you what our favourite tools are and how our teams use them. The lesson here is that collaboration is increasingly at the heart of the tools we use in our modern workplace. This is true not only across remote teams, but even teams within an office. Whether it’s working on documents, presentations, projects, code, design files, or email – collaboration is what makes work better.
Remember that weird feeling when Google Docs first launched, and you could see your colleague editing your words right in front of you? If you’re like me, your first reaction was “Seriously, you think YOUR phrase is better than mine? OK… yeah, it kinda is.”
Or the moment you realized you would never have to add a suffix like “v1_Final_ForRealThisTime_2” to any of your files again?
It was likely a mix of thrill and novelty. Maybe prior to this the only ‘live collaboration’ you ever experienced was your IT guy remotely taking control of your desktop and installing that malware you needed. But perhaps most exciting was knowing that it was a new era of work, one that transitioned from an era of iterations and isolation to an era of instant results and collaboration.
The Three Waves of Collaboration
There have been a few defining waves of collaboration in the workplace in recent memory that have led to today’s ubiquity of tools that make teams of all sizes work faster together.
The first wave was the digitization of everything from documents to phone calls.
Second, the accomodation of global workforces and work-from-anywhere cultures.
Third, and most recently, the need for real-time results and instant gratification.
Not too long ago I was sending printed out paper documents to my colleagues, awaiting their notes and comments, incorporating them back into my first iteration, and repeating the process until both sides were satisfied. Today, I receive a link to a Google Doc in Slack and then jump right in with my team, hammer out the perfect message, and then move on in a matter of minutes.
Today’s workplace tools bridge gaps (geographic or otherwise) to get projects done. It turns slow moving teams into efficient ones. Geographically dispersed teams into neighbors. Outsourced teams (like agencies and freelancers) into integrated ones.
These tools can be broken down into three distinct categories:
Communication: Instant messaging and group messaging has finally landed in the office, and even though the category leader Slack was founded less than a decade ago, it’s almost unheard of not to have some sort of IM capabilities in your company. The same is true of video chat tools like Zoom and Google Meet. Communication is instant and it’s team based.
Project Management: Some of us might still have a paper to-do list, or the endless post-it notes that seem to always spread over onto our neighbors desk (sorry Ayhan), but tools like Asana and Trello have forever changed how teams collaborate on projects. Instant updates, notifications, comments, and timelines have made the task of planning and monitoring projects a team-based activity.
Creation: Finally, all tools devoted to creation, whether that’s coding, writing, designing, or emailing, is shifting towards collaboration. Just as Google Docs and Dropbox has changed how teams work on documents, Github has changed how dev teams code and debug, and Figma has changed how teams design apps and websites. At Mailjet, we’re focused on changing how teams create and send emails.
So, am I just a guy passionate about teamwork? OK, I’ll admit I’m a stickler for efficiency, but it’s more about the fact that I now work in email which seems to be the last industry to get the memo that times are changing.
The thing is (warning: rant about to start) that email is inherently a team-based activity. Even medium sized companies can have as many as eight different people involved in an email template from designers to copy writers to developers to CRM managers. Beyond that, companies often have different types of emails like transactional, automation, and marketing and different teams devoted to each.
And while these teams are communicating on Slack or Yammer, managing projects in Asana or Trello, and creating content in Google Docs or Dropbox – they are sending email in a static environment not build for collaboration. They build in isolation, not synchronization.
Mailjet is a Collaboration Tool
We’ve heard this story over and over again from customers – as workplaces come to expect real-time and instant results from communications, projects, and content creation, they are stuck dealing with iterations and slow feedback in email creation. We felt this pain ourselves sending our weekly newsletters with our Mailjet marketing team spread across five countries and 4 time zones.
That’s why we focused 2018 on making emails faster for teams.
Think of all the features you love about Google Docs, packed into email (plus way way more). To give you an idea of just a few of the features, we’ll show you how we put together this week’s newsletter to keep our audience informed on our latest blogs, videos, and product releases.
On any other ESP (or on Mailjet a couple of months ago) to build this newsletter we would have had to take turns going into the email builder to do our separate parts, close the app, and inform our colleagues that the email is ready for editing. It was tedious, redundant, and not at all how a modern businesses should work. Today – the entire edit occured in one place.
Bea (in London, UK) added some comments in the app so that I could jump right into an edit when he got back from my amazing lunch in Toronto, Canada.
Aline, the designer, locked different sections so that no one messed with her beautiful images.
Michyl, our Head of Marketing Communication, was assigned the final approval role so that no email could be sent without her permission.
We don’t want email teams to feel stuck in the pre-collaboration era ever again, and we expect this is just the beginning of how email will move towards team-based creation. On top of live collaboration, comments, and permissions, we have also released Role Management capabilities to assign the ideal roles to each team member, and the ability to track changes to templates.
As mentioned above, the third and most recent wave of collaboration has brought on the need for real-time results and instant gratification. It’s no longer about just working together, or even working together across borders and timezones, it’s about getting to the needed result immediately. As email continues to be a key channel for marketing teams to engage their audience, it’s more important than ever to help email marketers get their desired results immediately. To us, this means easier live collaboration, ability to comment and communicate right in the interface, to make templates as easily accessible and recoverable as possible.
As the workplace changes, so too does how we work. Mailjet is about to change how emailers work.
Let us know how your team emails, what pain points still persist for your team, in what way does email still feel trapped in 2010?
So you’re sick and tired of hearing about your beautiful emails landing in spam? We’re glad you checked in. If you’re responsible for your organization’s email campaigns, you’re probably constantly thinking about how to avoid spam filters, spam words, and always landing in the inbox.
It can be a stressful and tedious job, but once you take a step back you’ll see that there is a clear and easy way to stop email from going to the junk folder.
We get it – there’s nothing we hate more than seeing great email go to waste.
Almost 25% of email marketers now cite deliverability as one of their main barriers to effective marketing – an increase of 5% in two years, and yet only 6% of marketers are focusing on solving this issue.
There’s no point spending time crafting great content if your messages are never seen.
In this article, we’ll help you start off on the right foot and land your email to its intended destination. We’ll first help you understand what email spam is, what tactics you can employ to avoid the spam folder, what words and phrases to avoid, and finally how to run spam filter tests.
What is Email Spam and Junk Email?
Spam, or junk email, refers to malicious, unrequested email sent by “spammers” who want something from you, want to do something to you (e.g. attack your computer with a virus).
Of course there’s a difference between spam and spam folders, which is the repository of all things that email clients and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) consider spam. Not everything in the spam folder is malicious, and in fact a lot of it isn’t. That’s why it’s important to adhere to best practices to avoid being marked as spam yourself.
Malicious content has been all but removed by ISPs, who have strengthened their filters in the past few years. In the early 2000s, you were probably still dealing with nonsense in your inbox and it probably made you hate your inbox a little bit. Today though it’s unlikely that a true spam email will ever make it through to the inbox.
That said, it’s easier than ever for consumers to mark emails as spam through one-click buttons on clients like Gmail which will then store future email from this sender in the junk folder.
Email Deliverability Definitions
Spam filter definition
There are a lot of checks that happen when an email goes through the server. ISPs (such as Gmail, Yahoo, AOL) have put filters in place to protect spam or malicious email from landing in a recipients’ inbox.
One thing to keep in mind is that deliverability is different from delivery. The two sound very similar, but shouldn’t be confused.
Deliverability rate is calculated as how many emails are inboxed out of the total sent. Delivery rate actually includes all email accepted by the ISP, which includes email that lands in the spam folder.
You can have a 100% delivery rate, but if your deliverability rate is only 45%, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to communicate with your customers.
Soft bounce definition
A soft bounce is when an email is sent back to the sender, but only for temporary delivery issues. This can be because the user’s inbox is full, the server is down or the message is too big for the recipient’s inbox. GIFs are a great way of increasing engagement in your emails, but make sure they’re not too big!
Hard bounce definition
A hard bounce is when an email is sent back to the sender because it couldn’t be delivered for permanent reasons. It could be that the email address was typed incorrectly, or a fake one was entered because the subscriber was more interested in receiving the perk or offer for signing up than receiving your email.
This is why it’s always helpful to set up double opt-in.
How to get my emails delivered to the inbox instead of the spam folder
How to stop emails from going to the spam folder
There are several best practices and tips that you can follow to improve your reputation and deliverability. We created a free white paper that lists 34 factors that can impact your deliverability, but also highlighted the top tips to follow and adopt here:
✓ Use a custom domain email address that is linked to your website. You will then be able to setup DKIM & SPF, which will allow for email authentication by the recipient servers.
✓ Ensure your website is active and running. Sending email from an address that is linked to an inactive or blank website will make ISPs suspicious.
✗ Do not purchase, borrow or copy any third party contact lists. Not only do these types of lists typically contain many spam traps and poor quality email addresses, it is against our sending policy. Note: A spam trap is an email address that is not used for communication and it should never receive emails; if it does receive email, then it is automatically considered to be spam
✓ Develop good quality contact lists by collecting email addresses via an opt-in from your website. A double opt-in process is recommended to eliminate mis-typed or fake email addresses.
✓ Regularly update and clean your contact lists. Monitor your mailing results, and remove older non-engaging or blocked email addresses. Focus on the people who are most interested in your newsletters.
✗ Do not use ALL CAPITALIZED WORDS in your subject line or body.
✗ Avoid using spammy type words (‘Free’, ‘Sale’, ‘Cash’, ‘Limited Time Offer’, etc). (more on words to avoid below)
✓ Keep your subject line between 35 to 50 characters long. The longer your subject line, the more likely it will be flagged as spam.
✓ Send content that your subscribers have signed up for and are expecting. If you send non-relevant content, your subscribers may mark you as a spammer. And the more people that open your newsletters, the better your reputation
✓ Send your newsletters consistently.
Advice on how to send bulk email without spamming
Sending bulk email that consistently lands in the inbox unfortunately can be a pretty frustrating process, especially if you’re not staying on top of your lists, campaigns, and sending processes.
That’s what Mailjet is here for, to not only optimize our platform for world class deliverability, but also to arm our customers with the latest tips and best practices to ensure deliverability.
Monitor Your Contact Lists
We’ll begin where we often begin when it comes to email: your contact lists. The first place we look when a customer is having deliverability issues is their contact lists to determine (1) where these contacts came from, (2) if and how they are engaging with the content, and (3) whether the lists are being cleaned frequently.
If it hasn’t been stated enough – avoid buying lists or scraping the web for emails…at all costs. Not only will your deliverability suffer reducing the reach of your emails to legitimate audiences but in a world increasingly concerned about data privacy, and in fact governments that are cracking down on this heavily, the only best practice here is to build your list organically.
Next, pay attention to how your users are engaging with your content. What are their open rates, bounce rates, and blocks. Without consistent oversight, it’s easy to let the these numbers drift upwards and consequently see your deliverability drift downwards.
While some users who no longer want or need to receive your messages will unsubscribe, more often than not your subscribers will start ignoring your email, maybe even marking them as spam, or the inbox provider like Gmail and Outlook will start to filter out your messages on their users’ behalf.
As a result, the onus is on you to clean your lists and keep those open rates and deliverability rates moving up and to the right.
To do this, you can use Mailjet’s Segmentation feature to identify those users who haven’t opened your emails in a few months, or those who are marking it as spam.
Brands that keep their lists clean can actually see an increase in not only open rates but also total opens as a result of better deliverability.
Email Authentication with SPF, DKIM, DMARC
Trust and permission is at the center of a successful email marketing strategy which makes it one of the most powerful marketing channels.
As a result, to avoid the spam folder, you need to prove to inbox providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook – the gatekeepers to your audience – that you are, in fact….you. Think of inbox providers as bouncers at a bar, they only care about two things: (1) do you have identification, and (2) are you worthy of connecting with crowd inside.
In order to get passed the bouncer, you don’t need to slip a fake ID and a $20 bill, it’s a little more complex than that. Here are a few things to consider to authenticate your email, prove who you are, and get past the spam filters:
Sender Policy Framework (SPF) – is an email validation protocol designed to detect and block email spoofing by providing a mechanism to allow receiving mail exchangers to verify that incoming mail from a domain comes from an IP Address authorized by that domain’s administrators.
Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) – an email authentication method designed to detect email spoofing. It is a way to sign and verify email messages at the message transfer agent (MTA) level using public and private keys. The public keys are published in DNS TXT records. DKIM authenticates the source and its contents.
Domain-Based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) – an email-validation system designed to detect and prevent email spoofing. It is intended to combat certain techniques often used in phishing and email spam, such as emails with forged sender addresses that appear to originate from legitimate organizations.
To setup your SPF & DKIM records, you will need to copy the SPF & DKIM values from your Mailjet account to your DNS records for the domain you want to authenticate.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen ISPs become a bit smarter and have started to move away from more traditional spam alarms.
Today, ISPs learn from how we interact with the messages that arrive in our inbox, which helps them determine whether emails should go to the Spam folder or land safely in our inbox.
So what does this means for words you should (and should not) be including in subject lines, then? Well, words tend to be misleading, thus resulting in higher-than-normal user complaint rates. These complaints, along with poor interaction from recipients have a negative effect on the sender reputation and, ultimately, impact the deliverability of future messages.
Just imagine how many times you have received a subject line that includes the word “Free”. How many times has there actually been something that’s truly free in the email? Probably very few, which explains why now, when you read the word “Free” in your inbox, you generally just roll your eyes at a not-so-subtle attempt to get you to open a deceiving email.
And if people do open the email and then find that there’s actually nothing really free there, senders can expect a high rate of user complaints like spam reports and unsubscribes that will impact their future inbox placement.
If you are looking to avoid those words that will trigger spam filters, we’ve got you covered. Below are some common spam lingo to help protect you from using them yourself and being mistaken for a spammer, or worse, a phisher.
The word “invoice” is a phisher’s favorite – if you see this word in a subject line, there’s a chance they’re trying to bait you in. Make sure to check the sender address to verify the email’s validity. firstname.lastname@example.org is not the same as email@example.com. Scammers try to profit out of our carelessness.
PayPal, Visa/MasterCard or any bank name
Again a case where a legitimate name can be used for phishing.
Scammers often try to impersonate financial institutions by sending emails with the same color scheme and layout, redirecting to a mirrored site made to look almost exactly like the one it is spoofing.
As a consumer, follow the same steps above, verifying the sender address and domain name. As a marketer, use authentication tools DKIM and SPF to prevent spoofers from hurting your reputation.
Lottery, Free Gift, Prize
This is one you always see in your spam folder. Hundreds of thousands of emails are sent to people with a subject line claiming that they’ve just won a big prize or that they’ve been selected for a sweepstakes you’ve never entered before. You have to be very gullible to fall for that one, yet scammers still send these by the millions since they are quick and easy to send. If it’s too good to be true, then it is. When you craft your emails, don’t give your customers a chance to ask themselves this question and certainly don’t let the ISP ask this question.
Urgent, Desperate, Please Help
Variations of this “damsel in distress” scheme have made appearances over the years, where phishers pretend to be an affluent person from a far away country, who, being chased by wrongdoers, is forced to flee to a safe haven. For some reason they have chosen you as the sole trustee of all their money and they promise great rewards for helping them open an account with a specific bank so that they can transfer their funds. These spammers are the butt of many jokes, avoid these words to avoid being on the wrong end of the joke.
Casino/Free Spins/Deposit Bonus
Gambling spammers often send out campaigns that promise high return, free entry or double deposits. If it’s not a website you recognize, then straight to the spam folder it goes.
Here are some examples of specific words you want to be cautious of using:
How to prevent email from going to spam: Use spam checkers or spam filters testing
What is a Spam Checker or a Spam Filter Test?
Even if you follow all of the above best practices, inevitably you may have missed something, or even more likely is that there might be something going on that you could have never caught with the naked eye. In fact, 70% of emails show at least one spam-related issue that could impact deliverability.
That’s why it’s so important to run spam tests to check the potential of your email being delivered to both the ISP and the ultimate inbox.
Unlike your naked eye, or even your picky colleagues’ eye, a spam test reviews your email to determine whether different spam filters will flag it and keep it out of inboxes.The test looks at everything from the content of your email, subject lines, where you are sending it from, and your domains reputation. To use our bouncer analogy from before, it’s like showing up hours before the evening gets started to have your bouncer pre-approve you for access. It might not always work but it certainly gives you some assurances you didn’t have before.
How Do I Run A Spam Test?
If you’re using an Email Service Provider like Mailjet to send emails, then your best bet is something called a seed list. A seed list is a list of internal emails you can send a test email to, such as co-workers, family members or friends.
Ideally, you’ll want the email address to cover a range of email clients and devices, so you can check if it makes it through the different email spam filters.
Using Mailjet, before you send your email to the masses, you can send a test email that not only tests for spam filters (like Gmail spam filters) but also is a great way to test for email responsiveness in different clients. To best use seed lists though, there are many services designed just for this purpose such as Litmus, Email on Acid, and many more.
Each of these tools will provide you with a seed list of email addresses that you can cut and paste into your test email and send out to identify any issues with landing in the inbox. Spam testers will test for the following flags:
Email Server Reputation
Sender Email Address
Sender IP address
Email Server Configuration
Email Content and Subject Line
As examples, both Email on Acid and Litmus are email optimization tools which include a spam filter test. Using any spam tester, alongside Mailjet, you can test your emails using the following easy step-by-step process:
Create your email and of course first check for any red flags in the content, subject line, and contact list
Once you think you’re ready to send, click on Send a Test Email
In your Spam Testing tool, select Start a New Spam Test or Start Spam Test
Copy and Paste all of the seed contacts that Litmus generates into Mailjet
Send your test email
Go back to your Spam Test Tool to identify any spam warnings and understand how you can continue to optimize your campaign to ensure maximum deliverability.
These services will send your emails through all the major spam filters before sending to make sure that they pass the first test.
Then it will check your sender reputation by looking at your IP addresses and any domain names used in your email.
There are many known blacklists and if your reputation is at all compromised or flagged, you’ll get a notification before sending.Next it will verify that your email authentication, such as DKIM, DomainKeys, SenderID, and Sender Policy Framework, is set up properly.
Finally, some services even provide you with a spam score, so you can compare your campaigns against past campaigns and your colleagues campaigns. The root of all happiness? Quantifiable competition.
Avoid the Spam Folder with Mailjet
Mailjet is constantly looking for ways to optimize and improve the deliverability of our customers’ emails. We manage the reputation of each sender and provide authentication tools (SPF, DKIM, etc.) to help implement all of the above best practices. We also optimize sending frequencies (i.e. throttling) and HTML code.
Ultimately, Mailjet is designed to simplify the whole process of sending emails and ensuring deliverability, so that our customers can focus on sending great newsletters, transactional emails, or whatever other content you want your audience to engage with. But what does Mailjet actually do? Let dig into 5 key points:
1. Management and monitoring of the reputation to avoid the spam folder.
Mailjet allows you to watch and protect the global reputation you have as a sender. This is defined by the reputation of the URLs, the domains and the IP addresses that are used. The content of the messages can impact each of these elements.
A lot of indicators are provided on the Mailjet Dashboard, and you will have access to the reputation of your IPs and to the scoring SpamAssassin, which validates the major formats and filters.
We have also partnered with BriteVerify and 250ok to help manage deliverability and reputation stats – the more you know about what practices aren’t working, the more you can start to solve them.
2. Avoid the spam folder – Access to authentication tools: SPF, DKIM & Domain Keys
Authentication systems have a set of standards for most of the ISPs. These protocols guarantee and protect the identity of the senders as well as fight against phishing.
Therefore, it is often necessary to publish these certificates. If this is not done, the ISPs can consider the non-authenticated emails as suspicious and place them in the spam folder.
Mailjet implements and optimizes all major email authentication protocols that senders need including DKIM (DomainKey Identified Mail), SPF (Sender Protection Framework) and DomainKeys by default. This can also be personalized for free. If you require assistance in this process, please contact our support team.
3. Optimization of the sending pace (I.e. throttling)
ISPs use ‘throttling’ mechanisms to control the volume of data traveling over their networks. Some impose temporary or permanent volume restrictions.
The threshold is based on the number of connections between the sending server and the receiving server, the number of messages per connection, and the volume of messages over time.
If you attempt to open too many SMTP connections at the same time or send too many email messages within a short time, you are very likely to get errors such as:
‘server has exceeded the rate limit allowed’, or
‘too many connections from your IP’.
If this happens, the reputation of the IP addresses used can have a major effect on these limits. In order to guarantee optimization of the reputation, Mailjet will slow down and adapt the sending pace when needed.
By respecting this imposed variations, the messages are accepted, they do not bounce and get to the inboxes of the intended recipients.
4. Optimization of the HTML structure of the email
Mailjet’s drag-and-drop email builder, Passport, gives anyone the ability to get 100% optimized code from the header to the footer of the email. All HTML elements abide by standardized rules and guarantee an improved deliverability.
Note that when using this feature, no technical knowledge is required. Always remember that an incorrectly coded email can trigger some spam filters.
5. Statistics, Feedback Loops and the Relationship with the ISPs
Mailjet maintains highly accurate, real-time data to track every piece of feedback from audiences – including those who mark messages as spam, and emails that are blocked or bounce. Every complaint is traced and taken into account.
This is best illustrated when someone clicks on the button “report as spam” on any inbox client. Mailjet gets this information and stops sending to this email address.
The bounces and unsubscriptions are also automatically managed. This helps maintain high quality lists. Anyone who is persistent in sending undesired emails could get blacklisted at any moment.