What Is An SMTP Relay And Why Do We Use It?

If you’re looking to take the next step in your understanding of email marketing, beyond how to set up contact lists  and create your first newsletter, then you should probably take a closer look at SMTP.

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:

 

snail mail

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.

smtp (4)

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.

Choosing an SMTP Port

We devote an entire blog to this already, but an important consideration when it comes to SMTP is which port to use.

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 104.199.110.216. 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!

The Best Mother’s Day Email Campaigns

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.

Anthropologie Email

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

Jack Spade Email

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.

SeatGeek Mothers Day

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 PersonalizationDoc Martens

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!

Happy (early) Mother’s Day to all the mothers!

The 8 Steps in Your Email Team’s Campaign Workflow

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.

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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.

Who Do You Need On Your Email Team?

Within each phase of your email workflow, there are a few key archetypes that will need to be involved. While we covered the five key roles in you need in your email team in an earlier article, we will summarize it a bit more here first.

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 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. 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.

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 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.

Data Engineer

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

Custom Code


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.

Integrate CRM

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

Email Marketing Tips for Universities

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.

Preferred Channel for University Recruitments by Students

Source: Statistica, 2016

The fact is email still drives conversions, across all sectors, and is the preferred form of communication for both university and college students.

We’ll let some of the best in their field handle other questions like social media marketing for universities, and focus this article on what we do best – email.

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

There are also a lot of great tips on our own blog that can help you think through broader email questions like how to send email marketing newsletters, conduct A/B tests, template design, and more.

Manage all departments’ email campaigns

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.

Brands that are presented with consistency are 3-4x more likely to experience brand recognition. In fact, something as simple as color consistency can increase brand recognition by 80%.

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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?

 

How Consistent Brand Colors Drive Engagement

Source: Lucid Press

And this is a challenge amongst well-established departments in the university, but what about ad-hoc clubs and groups, or course emails from professors?

Without consistency, your brand is everything and nothing at the same time. With consistency you are one brand, one identity. Which brand do you think wins out in the end?

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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.

Mailjet’s Locked Sections

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.

Mailjet’s Linked Sections for Bulk Template Editing

 

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).

Today, more than 70% of readers will delete an email that is not optimized for mobile, meanwhile over 25% of emails are first read on a mobile device. This number jumps to 40% for people aged 14-18… in other words your prospective students.

You’ve done so well to capture a user’s email, design a campaign, optimize your deliverability to land in the inbox… don’t lose them because you didn’t optimize for mobile.

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Ensure responsive design on all devices and inboxes

Our third tip then: optimize your emails for mobile devices and all inboxes.

Here are five things to look out for when designing your emails for all contexts:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Responsive Drag-and-Drop Email Builder

 

MJML

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.

 

MJML for Responsive Emails

 

If you’re interested in learning more about MJML and how to use it too send responsive emails, you can try it live here, or download here, and be sure to say hi to Nico and the team in our dedicated MJML Slack Group.

Final Exam

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:

  1. Create a Mailjet account and try out sub-accounts to separate sending practices for your department.
  2. Try Mailjet’s collaboration suite to explore locked sections and bulk template editing
  3. Code your next email in MJML

 

No pressure. 🎓

Getting Your Super Bowl Email Strategy Right

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.

Super Bowl Viewership vs Other Major Television Events.

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.

 

West Elm Super Bowl Sale
West Elm Super Bowl Sale

 

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.

 

Shaws Super Bowl Pre-Order
Make Pre-Orders Easy with Email

 

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!”

Preparation at Mailjet

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.

We’ll have a few more tips for you later on, to show how you can leverage the obscene ad dollars from major brands ($5M for a 30-sec ad) to help your own campaigns. Can’t Wait? Jump over to our tips for after the Super Bowl.

Ultimately, with all of this information up front you can begin 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.

 

Superbowl Open Rates
Email Open Rates During Super Bowl Week

This is understandable given people are away from their desks on most weekends, but it’s a good reminder that it’s important to ensure your emails are responsive on all devices, and also that your campaigns, CTAs, landing pages, and promotions are also optimized for mobile conversions.

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.

Website Visits Super Bowl Ads
How Different Generations Engage with Super Bowl Advertisers

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).

“The commercial built awareness of Alexa and Echo devices, says Deb Gabor, CEO of brand strategy consultancy Sol Marketing. “While it didn’t offer much in name of showcasing the value proposition of Alexa, it seemed aimed at driving the adoption of smart speakers into mass use.”

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.

Super Bowl Beer Mugs

Generate Curiosity

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.

email urgency

❌ We have all the beer mugs you need for the big game

✅ Today Only! One item you’ll need for your Super Bowl party

Personalize

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!

2018’s Best Podcast Episodes for Email Marketers

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.

Unlock New Ideas and Learn From Industry Leaders

Duct Tape Marketing Podcast: Seth Godin

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?

Seth Godin

Author, This is Marketing

Gary Vee: Effectively Marketing to your Target Audience

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.

Gary Vaynerchuk

VaynerMedia

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.

Betaworks Builders: CMO Roundtable

Betaworks is a startup studio in New York, and the studio behind some great digital products like Giphy and Unsplash, as well as podcast behemoths Anchor and Gimlet.

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.

Pam El

Chief Marketing Officer, NBA

Buffer: Science of Social Media

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.

Growth Hub Podcast: Bill Macaitis of Slack

 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.

Dive Deep with Long-Form Documentaries

Seeking Wisdom by Drift – Exceptions: Wistia

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.

Freakonomics Radio: How to be Creative

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.

Honorable Mentions

Really Good Emails

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

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!

The 5 People You’ll Need on Your Email Team

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.

  1. The Email Strategist
  2. The Email Designer
  3. The Copywriter
  4. The Email Developer
  5. The Data Engineer
  6. But…Your Email Team is Unique

1. The Email Strategist

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.

Email-Publication-Request
Email Mailjet Role Management & Publication Requests

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.

MJML
MJML & Drag-and-Drop Editor

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.

Special Tip for Data Engineers

Be sure to check out Mailjet’s long list of integrations to see how you can use data to drive magical campaigns.

Your Team Is Unique

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!

Top 5 Online Collaboration Tools For Teams

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

Collaboration Tool Survey
Collaboration tool survey

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.

GDPR Wrong Room-Slack
Room example in Slack

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.

Google Docs Comments
Google Docs 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.

Feel free to add to it and let us know on Twitter how you think we can improve this process even more!

Trello Board
Trello Board Example

4. Github: Easy Version Control

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. contact@business.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.

Github MJML
Github repo

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 😉).

Mailjet Comments
Mailjet Comments – Collaboration tool

Honorable Mentions

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

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

Invision is a fantastic app used by our Product and Design team to collaboratively design user experiences, apps, websites in real time.

Spendesk

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

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.

Now it’s your turn to share. What tools does your team use that we may have missed? Share your #CollaborationStack on Twitter to let us know how you and your team work faster, together.

How Email is Catching up with the Modern Workplace

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.

  1. The first wave was the digitization of everything from documents to phone calls.
  2. Second, the accomodation of global workforces and work-from-anywhere cultures.
  3. 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.

Think about it. This is a radical change in how we work. But more importantly, it mirrors a radical change in our entire culture, from how we communicate with friends, how we consume entertainment, and how we travel. If it’s not instant and if it isn’t social, it won’t survive.

How Teams Collaborate Today

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.

Collaborate on Communication

  • 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.

Collaborate on Projects

  • 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.

Collaborate on Creation

Email Collaboration 

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.

  1. First, we all put together a draft of this email at the same time with real-time collaboration.
  2. 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.
  3. Aline, the designer, locked different sections so that no one messed with her beautiful images.
  4. 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?