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!

How to Set Up DKIM in 3 Simple Steps

Originally developed at Yahoo!, DomainKeys Identified Mail has become a global standard in email security and is, together with its sister SPF, absolutely necessary to implement by anyone serious about mailing, especially if you want to send blast emails. In this post, we’ll show you how to setup DKIM and make your email more secure.

What is DKIM?

DomainKeys Identified Mail, or DKIM, is an authentication protocol that links a domain name to a message. The protocol allows you to sign your email with your domain name. The purpose of the DKIM protocol is not only to prove that the domain name has not been usurped, but also that the message has not been altered during transmission.

DKIM is in theory quite simple. It relies on asymmetric encryption and therefore works with any tool developed for such a use. First one has to generate a private/public key pair. Then the public part of the key has to be put as a TXT record to the domain which is used as the sender address. The private key is then used to create a signature for each email. The signature is basically a hash code and computed by taking the content of the email and combining it with the private key using a security algorithm. The signature is then saved as a header of the email.

When a receiving SMTP server detects such a header, it looks up the public part of the key by asking the domain name system (DNS) for the TXT record. One of the beauties of asymmetric encryption is that the keys are like brothers: they share DNA. Using the public key, anyone can tell whether the email was sent by the owner of the domain or not. If this check fails or if the header and therefore the signature does not exist, many email service providers raise an alarm and may, depending on the volume of email sent, decide to mark this email as spam or even to block the sender IP address.

Why should you use DKIM?

The reason is quite simple: along with SPF and DMARC, these are the main protocols for verifying the identity of senders. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent phishers and other scammers from posing as a legitimate sender, whose identity they could impersonate using the same domain name.

But this is not the only advantage. In fact, the implementation of these protocols improves email deliverability. Thanks to these protocols, your emails will be better identified by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and your recipients’ email clients, which improves the chances of your emails reaching your contacts’ inbox and not the Spam folder.

These protocols have become the standard in the email world. A message sent without DKIM and/or SPF can be considered suspicious by the different email analysis tools.

How to set up DKIM in 3 simple steps

1.  Setting up: Configuration of DKIM to generate the key pair

The tool of choice depends on your operating system. For Microsoft Windows you can use PUTTYGen (here is a tutorial), for Linux and Mac, you can use ssh-keygen (Github has an excellent tutorial).

2. Placing the public key as a TXT record in the DNS settings

We have provided a list of DNS providers together with links to official and third-party documentation:

With some DNS providers the setup can be quite tedious, but we would be glad to help you out. Just contact our support!

3. Generating and saving the signature

When using Sendmail or Postfix (the world’s two most popular SMTP server), or any other SMTP server that supports milter, you can use a special milter ( = email filter), the DKIM milter. This milter has been released by Sendmail as Open Source and allows to sign emails with a generated private key. Please have a look at the extensive documentation.

How to set up DKIM with Mailjet

To define Mailjet as a legitimate sender, you must configure your SPF and DKIM for each of your sending domains.

Setting up DKIM with Mailjet is very simple. Mailjet gives you the public key to register through your website host interface. There, you can integrate the public key into your registration area.

Here’s an example of how to do it:

You will find all the necessary information and step-by-step process in our documentation. It is so complete, it even includes support guides for each of the main hosting providers (OVH, Gandi, Cloudfare, Hostgator…).

Share your comments and ideas with us on Twitter, and follow us to be the first to receive our news.

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This is an updated version of the blog post “How To Set Up DKIM In 3 Simple Steps” published on the Mailjet blog on March 13, 2014.

International Women’s Day: 5 Stories That Show How Mailjet Supports Its Women

It’s International Women’s Day and, all around the world, people are celebrating women, discussing equal rights and telling inspiring stories about the meaningful and strong women in their lives.

At Mailjet, we believe we are responsible for creating positive change, and when it comes to women’s rights and opportunities, it can’t be a one-day-only initiative. Yeah, getting the guys to sing Beyonce’s “Who run the world” at our karaoke nights is a start, but there are many other things a company can do to be a great place where women can succeed.

What makes us so special? Our superheroines tell you all about it!

5 Stories That Show How Mailjet Supports Its Women

Empowering strong female leaders

When asked about female role models, most women could probably name several historical figures, but unfortunately, many of them don’t have the opportunity to see women in leadership roles within their own companies. At Mailjet, we place heavy value on equal opportunities and our leadership team, with 50 % female ratio, is a prime example of the amazing things that can happen when diversity is a top priority.

“Mailjet values female talents and equal opportunity, and the 50% female ratio in the top management team clearly shows that. As one of the chief executives in Mailjet, I am humbled by the responsibility to serve as a role model to other female colleagues across our offices worldwide.

I also feel empowered by Mailjet to lead female team-building activities and find it very easy to build a support network of female colleagues within the company who can advise, mentor and help me both professionally and personally.”

Judy Boniface

Chief Customer & Marketing Officer at Mailjet

 

Encouraging women in the tech world

Finding a place within the tech industry is still hard for women. While women make up 59% of the total workforce, they are averaging only 30% of the workforce across major tech companies. Providing opportunities, understanding the challenges and ensuring women have an even playing field are key to ensuring the reality of the industry starts to change.

“Let’s face it: being a woman in the male-dominated world of deliverability (any tech industry, really) is tough. How many times have you been the only woman in the room? The strong women who came before us fought hard to give us the chance for our voices to be heard. Now is the time for us to embrace this effort, and for women to become the next generation of leaders in tech.

At Mailjet, a good idea is a good idea. Period. It doesn’t matter if the idea came from a man or a woman. That’s how it should be everywhere else.”

Lauren Meyer

VP of Delivery & Head of NA Operations

Slack for iOS Upload
The Mailjet Ladies at our monthly Girls’ Lunch.
 

Celebrating motherhood

No matter how hard we try to ensure bringing up children is not only a mother’s job, there are still aspects of starting a family that fall on the woman’s shoulders. All around the world, women still complain they feel there is a “motherhood penalty” in the workplace. At Mailjet, we are committed to ensuring that this is not the case.

“Initially, I was part of a different team within Mailjet when the company opened a position for local support leaders. I was five months pregnant back then, but I applied anyway.

I was delighted to know I had been chosen as the Team Lead for our Sofia office, and felt really supported knowing that I was valued even though I was four months away from having my baby.”

Silyana Bojilova

Customer Support Manager

 

Keeping education first

At Mailjet, we strongly believe the key to having powerful super-women in the tech world comes from providing the right opportunities to learn and grow. Having strong female leaders and mentors, enjoying the chance to study and take risks, and investing in our interns, to provide them with as many opportunities as possible is key to ensure that they find a space within the tech world.

“When I joined Mailjet, I was still working on my master’s degree, which meant I wasn’t available full time. There are not many places where you can balance work and education, but luckily Mailjet was happy to be flexible with this and allowed me to do three days a week at the office and two days at university.

This balance between studies and work has helped me gain responsibility within the team and develop a certain number of operational skills. In fact, being able to work and study at the same time is the best way to see real-life examples of what I have been studying. Since I started working at Mailjet, I have definitely grown professionally and I have certainly found my way into the tech industry.”

Diane Abrantes

Legal Assistant

 

Embracing our differences

A burden for any woman can be the constant expectation of what a woman should be or a woman should look like. In dealing with criticism that can be anything from being too much of a tomboy to being too girly, sometimes there’s just too much pressure on women to be someone they are not. A strong part of the Mailjet culture is not having these expectations. We have the girliest girls, the nerdiest nerds… and appreciate them all just as much.

“Fresh out of university, I started my career at L’Oréal in Montréal. It was a great fit: Marketing + Beauty (a big passion of mine). The culture of L’Oréal is very fashionable and I loved that aspect. As my career developed, the startup and tech world drew me in. My industry may have changed, but my love of all things fashion and cosmetics didn’t, which made me wonder: will I fit in in this tech world?

When I started at Mailjet (the most tech-focused company I’d ever worked at) one of my colleagues gave me a stark awakening: he ONLY wears socks (never shoes) in the office. And guess what? No one cared. It was the same for me with my dresses, cute shoes (or even our Head of Content’s witty t-shirts and Harry Potter hoodies). This of course is not what represents women, but this is an aspect that represents me, and you really feel a sense of respect for that here. We’re not all the same at Mailjet, but we work, do sports class, eat lunch side by side and focus on who each other is, not the color of our socks.”

Michyl Culos

Head of Marketing Communications

 

Celebrating The Women at Mailjet on International Women’s Day

At Mailjet, we are sure about something: we wouldn’t be where we are without the strong women in our company. ❤️

International Women's Day Mailjet

Join us on Twitter as we #BalanceforBetter and celebrate our powerful women this #InternationalWomensDay!

What Is a Webhook and Why Do You Need It

Wondering what is a webhook and how it works?

Well, just think about the amount of information you get about the emails you send. We’re sure you love all the detailed stats Mailjet offers, but you wish there was just a way the right ones would come to you, so you wouldn’t need to you looking out for them. Well, luckily, there actually is. Today, we’ll tell you all about webhooks, how to set them up and how to use them to drive your email program.

What is a webhook?

Imagine that you have an online store and you want to offer a special discount for anyone opening your email in the first 24 hours. You can do it manually, by checking your email stats regularly and manually sending those who opened the discount code. But that would take you a lot of time, right?

Or you can do it automatically with webhooks, which will trigger a message with the additional discount to anyone that opens your email. Sounds more efficient, right?

Simply said, webhooks are events that trigger an action. In most cases, they are used for communication between systems. This is the simplest way of getting an alert when something happens in another system. They are called webhooks because they work as software hooks over the web.

How do webhooks work?

Let’s take your bank as an example. When you make a withdrawal using an ATM, the machine checks your balance and gives you the amount you requested. Once this operation is done, your balance is updated and this change triggers an action – an SMS is sent with the details of the withdrawal.

That’s how webhooks work. An action serves as a trigger for another action. The rest is a popular architecture used to communicate between systems.

A webhook is a HTTP callback: a HTTP POST that occurs when something happen – an event-notification via HTTP POST. Webhooks are used for real time notifications, so your system can be updated right when the event takes place.

Most commonly, webhooks are HTTP callback points that are defined by the user. They allow you to register an http:// or https:// URL where the event data can be stored in JSON or XMLformats. After that, you will be able to do what you want with the data you retrieve and store from a certain event.

The core mechanics of webhooks consist on making an HTTP request to a user’s specified URL. A webhook makes an HTTP callback to a URL that has to be configured by the system which receives the data.

That URL is called webhook endpoint. Webhook endpoints need to be public and it’s important that this URL belongs to the receiving system. The callback is triggered whenever there is an event you’d like to notify another system about.

For Mailjet, this webhook is a URL you can add in our system, so you can receive email events, such as “sent” “open, “clicked”, “bounce”, “block”, “spam” or “unsubscribe”. This way, you can either track your messages the whole path, of your message or just “listen” for the status you want.

Let’s go back to the ATM example. When you make the withdrawal, your bank is notified and updates your balance, which is the indication for the system to send you an SMS with all the details.

Webhooks work on the same concept. The ATM is a third-party app/site (webhook provider) that sends a signal when a specified event occurs. The system that sends you the SMS is what is known as the “listener”. The listener is the URL that receives the webhooks calls and performs a predefined action after that – in this case, sending the SMS. Webhooks are a programming mechanism designed to receive data that originates in some external system, in real time. In this case, that system is the bank account. Is it clearer now?

But what sort of things can you do with webhooks? Among other things, you can:

  • Synchronize systems in real time;
  • Send any kind of notification;
  • Process the data however you want;
  • Create reports;
  • And almost anything else you can think about!

 

Why do we need webhooks?

There are two ways your apps can communicate with each other to share information: polling and webhooks. In our example with the bank, polling would be going to your bank and asking what your balance is each time you make a withdrawal.

Nowadays, everyone needs a simpler way to get data out in real time, so they can easily do whatever they want with it. That means, no polling every minute for large exports that your system would then need to parse, risking a system overload or losing the data if there’s a bug. Using HTTP is a simpler and easier solution, as webhooks are automated messages sent from apps when something happens.

polling_vs_webhookSource: Cloud Elements – check out their post to learn more about the difference between polling and using webhooks.

There are two ways you can use webhooks:

  1. To receive the event information and store it;
  2. To receive the event information and pass it on;

Let’s look into these two scenarios closer.

To receive the event information and store it:

The so called “push” is the simplest way to use webhooks. As we already mentioned, there is no need to be polling your data every few minutes to find out if there is new information. You can just get the new information directly by using webhooks. You will be able to store it till you need it for something else. Basically, the system you configured with your webhook will PUSH the information you need when it arrives.

To receive the event information and pass it on:

The so called “pipe” happens when your webhook not only receives the information for which it listens, but goes on to do something new with it, like triggering actions. You could create a script, register its URL on your site, and send an email when a visitor creates an account. Or create a script that updates the quantity of products available every time a new purchase is made.

With webhooks, you can actually do whatever you want or need! And it is simple and efficient, because you are not wasting your time requesting for enormous amount of data – you are receiving the new data when it arrives!

How can you use webhooks with Mailjet?

With webhooks, you can easily receive each open or click event right after it happens, or track bounces and blocks as they happen. Imagine that in 15 minutes more than 60% of your emails to a destination are blocked? Thanks to the events you are receiving in real time, you’ll be able to detect this immediately and take action.

You can always use the events to create your personalized dashboard in whatever internal application you use, to process the data you want as you wish. You’ll only have the events you need and track the most relevant data. Or you can use the events received on your webhook as triggers for a new email to be send, to create a personalized automated flow for all of your users.

Mailjet event examples

Let’s dig a bit deeper into what the events you receive on those webhooks look like.This is what you’ll get when you receive an open event:

{
“event”: “open”,
“time”: 1433103519,
“MessageID”: 19421777396190490,
“email”: “api@mailjet.com”,
“mj_campaign_id”: 7173,
“mj_contact_id”: 320,
“customcampaign”: “”,
“CustomID”: “helloworld”,
“Payload”: “”,
“ip”: “127.0.0.1”,
“geo”: “US”,
“agent”: “Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 5.1; rv:11.0) Gecko Firefox/11.0”
}

You can see what message was opened, when exactly and other useful information that you can use however you wish.

Now, let’s check out a bounce event:

{
“event”: “bounce”,
“time”: 1430812195,
“MessageID”: 13792286917004336,
“email”: “bounce@mailjet.com”,
“mj_campaign_id”: 0,
“mj_contact_id”: 0,
“customcampaign”: “”,
“CustomID”: “helloworld”,
“Payload”: “”,
“blocked”: true,
“hard_bounce”: true,
“error_related_to”: “recipient”,
“error”: “user unknown”
}

Here you can also see what the error was, in the field “error”. In this case, the error indicates it’s an “unknown user”, which lets you know that it is better not to try and reach out to this user again. This could be used to synchronize two systems to clean your lists from inactives or incorrect contacts.

In shortly, you can do anything with the events you receive from Mailjet. Use them in your configuration and create what you need!
How can you configure a webhook with Mailjet?

First off, you’ll need the URL from the system from which you want to receive the events. Once you’ve got that, everything else is really simple. That URL will accept data and can activate a workflow to turn the data into something useful. There are two ways to configure your webhooks in Mailjet.

  • Using our API;
  • Using our interface;

 

Using our API

You will need to make one simple call to setup the URL you want to use. Here’s the call:

curl -s \
-X POST \
–user “$MJ_APIKEY_PUBLIC:$MJ_APIKEY_PRIVATE” \
https://api.mailjet.com/v3/REST/eventcallbackurl \
-H ‘Content-Type: application/json’ \
-d ‘{
“EventType”:”open”,
“Url”:”https://mydomain.com/event_handler”,
“Version”:2
}’

This URL will listen for open events. Each time anyone opens your email you will receive an open event like the one we saw above. Then you can either just store the data or trigger an action, such as sending a new email.

See, it is simple! One call and everything is done. Check out our documentation to get started.

Using our interface

We offer the option to configure the webhook from our interface as well. You can do it from the “My account” page, on the section “Rest API”. You’ll need to choose the option “Event tracking (triggers)”

Event-tracking-mailjet

You’ll be able to add one webhook for all events, or set up specific ones for each type of events.

events-interface-setup-mailjet

You will be able also to test the URL you specified to ensure it’s working properly. If all goes well, it will return a 200 OK HTTP. Any other HTTP code will result in our server retrying the request later.

Our system will retry following these rules:

  • 10 attempts, with 30 seconds between each attempt;
  • After that:10 attempts, with 30 minutes between each attempt;
  • If none of these attempts work, the URL will be suspended;

 

Keep an eye on your webhook for any responses other than a 200 OK. 😉

And this is it! You have a functional webhook that can receive your email events. Use this in your configuration to have your own statistics or custom workflows.

Summing Up

Now you know what a webhook is and why this is the easiest way to track any type of events over the web. Just set up your “listener” and decide what to do with the events it catches.

Using Mailjet’s events will help you track everything that happens with your emails. This is the perfect way to clean your lists or to create your own dashboard in your company’s internal application.

If you want to be the first to know about the latest tech trends or how to use Mailjet, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Activity Logs: Track all Changes Made to Your Campaigns in Mailjet

If you are working in a large company or work with a team on your email campaigns, you sometimes might feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Involving many people on the same project is often necessary, but not so easy to manage.

But, don’t worry, we’ve thought of this, and we’re here to help with our new launch of Activity Logs!

What Are Activity Logs?

You no longer need to worry about asking every single person on your team to find out who was responsible for a modification you want to change before sending your email. To save you time and effort, Activity Logs allows you to track all these changes in our app!

Activity logs help you uncover who was involved in every modification done on your templates and campaigns.

Where you can find Activity Logs?

Step 1: simply click on the “Manage” button on the right side of your campaign or template list.

Campaign view activity logs
– Campaign view –
Template view activity logs
– Template view –

Step 2: in the drop-down menu, select “View activity log”, which will take you to the history page.

Activity Logs
– Campaign view –
Activity Logs
– Template view –

Monitor changes made as far back as 3 months!

We sort this activity data from most recent to oldest, for you to easily browse the actions taken on your campaign or template.

Activity Logs

What you can see with Activity Logs

This new feature will help you quickly identify your collaborators changes to the campaigns and templates you are collaboratively creating.
You will be able to view the status of the campaign or template (i.e. Sent, Draft, Published) and metadata about changes made like date, time, and user. Finally, you will be able to view the specific actions taken, such as changes to the title, subject, “from” name and address, any changes to the content, contact list, and the users who scheduled or sent the campaign.

In short – the full details of who, what, when, and how changes were made.
Activity Logs Mailjet

Activity Logs are Now Available

Actions done in your campaigns and templates will be tracked from now on, even on existing campaigns or templates that you have in your Mailjet account. This means that it is enabled on all your campaigns and templates that you already created. Changes made prior to the launch of Activity Logs will not be tracked, but all changes moving forward will

Please note that events done via API are not registered.
API no logs

We hope the launch of Activity Logs will help you and your team keep track of what is changed and when, in order to ensure your team continues to create and send the most optimal campaigns.
This feature is only available for our Enterprise clients.

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%.

Click to Tweet this insight 👆

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?

Quote This👆

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.

Click to Tweet this insight 👆

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. 🎓

Gmail Promotions Tab: A Guide to Optimize Email Delivery

The Gmail Promotions tab’s hot debut in 2013 caused mixed reactions. Some marketing pundits predicted that it marked the end of email marketing as we know it. Others were less dramatic, and stated that it would have a negative impact on the opens and clicks of bad marketing campaigns.

But in 2019 email is hot again. And Google is leading the pack with its latest update on the Promotions Tab – Google Annotations.

Today, email campaigns need to be more inventive than ever in order to stand out, and this new update from Google allows email marketing to be more visual than ever right in the inbox itself.

So in this article, we’ll walk you through a history of the Promotions Tab and how the new Annotations feature will allow email marketers to find new creative ways to market their emails.

 

History of Google Promotions Tab

2013: Google Promotions Tab’s hot debut

In 2013, Google rolled out one of its biggest updates on Gmail by adding the Social and Promotions Tabs.

This update was intended to offer Gmail users a better emailing experience by automatically segmenting emails based on their content and sender address.

But email practitioners everywhere were worried that this would negatively affect their opens and clicks.

2014: Inbox by Gmail

In 2014, Google launched a new email tool: Inbox by Gmail – an email service aimed to help users become more productive.

Inbox by Gmail sandboxed many ideas generated by its users that then was slowly incorporated into Gmail.

Marketers were given access to additional features to give more value to their email campaigns through Email Schema Markup. These code snippets can be added in the <head> or <body> tags of an email campaign to allow Gmail to identify what kind of email it is and take advantage of some advanced features.

Here’s an example of how Email Schema Markup works:

Answers in Google Search lets Google show some relevant emails based on search query, for example, showing you information on flights and events.

Answers in Google Search

Highlights in Inbox displays enhancements like flight details or receipts.

Highlights in Inbox

 

Adding Actions to Emails allows email campaigns to become more interactive by adding a CTA directly in the email subject, such as “Add to Queue” or “Accept Invite”.

 

Adding Actions to Emails

2018: A New Look & AI for Gmail

2018 was a big year for Gmail. Its interface got an update and new AI-powered features were introduced:

  • Nudges let users come back to an abandoned email thread.
  • Smart Replies allow users to reply based on pre-rendered templates.
  • Snooze allows users to set a snooze alert on their emails.
  • High Priority notifications let users get notifications only for important emails.

In 2017, there was also Gmail’s Smart and Easy unsubscribe – a popup that asked users if they wanted to unsubscribe to email newsletters they have not opened in the last 30 days or so.

Gmail is still rolling out new updates. Their latest one, Annotations feature in the Promotions tab, allows marketing specialists through schema markup to include additional details like promotional codes, images and additional offers right in the inbox interface.

How do the Promotion Annotations work?

Gmail’s new feature allows email campaigns to offer even more value to their subscribers, including a much more visual interface to bring your emails to life with images, deals, expiration dates, and more.

Thanks to machine learning, Gmail identifies the most important messages (optimized by the Schema Markup script) that could interest subscribers and classifies them by topic or theme.

Below is an example on Top Deals.

Promotions Annotations on Mobile

Simply put, emails can be classified together into groups but only those optimized through Schema Markup can be shown with images and special offers.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to know how to get to the top of the Promotions Tab and the system for getting Annotations, even with the right script implementation. Though overtime, these tricks will be uncovered – so be sure to stay on top of these opportunities.

How does this benefit email marketers?

With Annotations, Gmail selects the best email campaigns to show to users based on their own filters. Brands with an already large following have a better chance of their email campaigns being seen but the more engagement you get from your list, the more likely Gmail will promote your content as well.

What else you can display in the Promotions Tab

What is Displayed in the Promotions Tab

To start, here is a list of elements that you can include in your emails.

Image Preview

Yes, email previews can now include images. The images could be a product preview or something that really encapsulates what your newsletter is all about. Gifs are not supported, though.

Green Badge

This clearly displays your offer, which can include things like:

  • Free Delivery
  • 20% off Discount
  • Deals

 

Tip: Avoid writing long sentences, they will be cut off and therefore your message will render incomplete.

Grey Badge

The grey badge shows a promotional code that the user can use to access their discount. If there is no code, including this is not necessary.

Expiration date

This part is very interesting for marketers. It lets marketers add an expiration date to a deal and create a sense of urgency.

This feature lets an email be visualized on top of a group twice: once when it gets sent the first time, and another in the final three days before expiration.

Logo

Brands can finally show their logos so that users will immediately be able to identify their email campaigns. Use a HTTPS URL and not a HTTP to avoid errors.

If the user clicks on any of these Annotations, this will open the email.

Gmail will also show a preview of the promotional tab in the main inbox. This is another great reason to enable Annotations in your email campaigns.

Promotional Tab Teasers

 

How to use the Gmail Promotional Tab to your advantage

After validating the sender domain to Google, there are two ways to appear at top of the Promotions Tab.

Directly edit Google’s script

Email developers simply need to modify the code given by Google and generate a preview through this page. Once changed, you can include the email code in your campaigns.

Preview Your Annotations with this Google Tool

Use an Annotation Editor

Google is in partnership with Litmus to create an Annotations Editor for Gmail catered toward non-technical marketers, and we recommend this editor.

Marketers can add all the relevant details (logo, image, subject, offer, etc.) in the required field to personalize the Annotation.

Once created, they can download the code either in Microdata and insert it in the body tag of their email campaigns, or in JSON in the body or head tags.

Annotation Editor for Non-Technical Marketers

Still want to avoid the Gmail Promotions Tab?

Even if it is impossible to know exactly how Gmail’s algorithm works, there are some best practices to maximize your chances of landing into the Primary inbox.

But as a clear disclaimer, we do not encourage trying to cheat Gmail’s algorithms by trying to have your marketing emails land in the inbox. If you are sending marketing emails, we highly recommend you do not try to cheat Gmail’s filtering algorithms, or risk getting your future campaigns in the spam folder.

Before doing anything else, think about your brand mission and objectives first and foremost and consider if these campaigns really deserve to be in the Primary inbox.

After all, the Promotions Tab may not be a bad thing for your subscribers, who expect to see marketing emails in that tab. And let’s be honest if they have subscribed to your emails, chances are, they want to see them. If they don’t, you have a different problem on your hands.

Users just don’t subscribe to marketing emails and leave them to fester in the Promotions Tab.

The Primary inbox is for personal emails. Think of it as the figurative home of the user, where they meet family and friends. Imagine how creepy it would be for them to see a marketer just barged into their home for a cool discount.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if they decided to unsubscribe afterwards and block you. This of course is not good for your email reputation and deliverability. That said, some emails like transactional emails that have password resets, important receipts, and more perhaps belong in the personal feed.

If you are looking to send to the personal tab, here are some tips on how to avoid the Promotions Tab:

  • Don’t use commercial or marketing phrases: Forget CTA’s like Buy Now and other words like discount, promotion, offer, and so on. These will activate the filters.
  • Keep images to a minimum: Email marketing campaigns tend to have more images than personal ones, so it’s an easy flag.
  • Use text-based email campaigns, most marketing emails are HTML-based, so try to avoid this.
  • Keep the links to a minimum: It doesn’t seem personal to have so many links.
  • Personalize your email: Referring to the subscriber by their first name would be a way to show Gmail that you know them personally.
  • Send short emails, hopefully resembling the ones you send to your colleagues.
  • Don’t use a generic Reply-to addresses – Such as contact@ or support@ and certainly not no-reply@ address.
  • Configure your SPF and DKIM records to avoid getting seen as a spammer: to learn more, here is our guide on authenticating domains with SPF & DKIM.

These are just tips to avoid the Promotions Tab, and there’s no guarantee that your campaigns would be classified as such.

How can Mailjet help you use Annotations?

Our visual email campaign editor, Passport, lets you include the Microdata from Litmus’ builder into your email code. You would only need to then test if this is showing up in your inbox correctly.

Mailjet’s Passport

Conclusion: Gmail’s Promotions Tab is an opportunity for marketers

Gmail is constantly changing the world of email by giving more control to its users. Gmail places marketing emails directly into the Promotions Tab.

The Promotions Tab has exceeded the expectations of skeptics and email marketers everywhere by being more optimized for marketing emails and therefore conversions. After all, Gmail doesn’t want email marketing to die, they want it to thrive for both the user and brands.

If email marketers know how to take advantage of this Promotions Tab, then they can really do some new and innovative things to attract and retain customers.

In the Promotions Tab, Google Annotations allows for an even more visual email marketing experience right in the inbox interface. Annotations show images, discounts and codes to be shown in before getting the emails opened. It’s a real opportunity enabled by Google’s schema markup script.

Non-technical marketers can create these scripts using Litmus’ tool, made in collaboration with Google.

Google has since announced plans to improve their Annotations tool for events, eCommerce and tourism. Even more reason to start using it now!

 

Gmail Annotations for Events & eCoommerce

If you want to know the latest updates on this, don’t hesitate to subscribe to our newsletters, we’ll have more updates down the line!

Are you going to use this annotations feature to really amp up your email marketing campaigns? Or have you already implemented it and noticed the steady conversions rolling in? Share with us on Twitter @mailjet.

Even if many email marketers are trying to avoid it, the Promotions Tab offers new visual opportunities for email marketing campaigns everywhere to add more value to Gmail users.

Advanced Email Personalization Using Mailjet’s API

In our previous post in this series we explained what personalization is and provided some useful tips on how and when to best add personalization to your campaigns. We also showed you how to apply standard personalization either manually or using our awesome email builder – Passport. If you missed it be sure to check out our previous article here.

In this article, we are going to dive even deeper into the world of the personalization. Do you want to know how to get to the next level? ? Keep reading and you will see the magic of the advanced personalization, which will allow you to create the perfect email for everyone.

What is advanced email personalization?

Advanced personalization is the easiest way to customize your emails with data that it is collected by your CRM or any other tool you are using to collect your customer’s information. At the moment, this type of personalization e can only be used for transactional emails at Mailjet and by using our template language.

While advanced personalization allows you to do everything we covered in standard personalization, it goes well beyond that.. Not only can you customize [first name] and other basic variables, with advanced personalization,you can customize the content of your email as well, allowing you to send fully personalized emails.. We’ll show you a little later on how exactly you can do this but first to do any kind of personalization you will need personal data for your clients to use.

What data can you use to personalize your email?

The most basic method of collecting information is through a subscription widget You can ask your customers and prospect any number of qualifying questions as they are subscribing to your emails, or opening an account. Starting with their name and email of course, all the way to questions that are going to help you provide a truly personal experience in your campaigns.

For example, if you are selling tickets for events, you could ask “What type of music do you like?” or “What type of movies do you like to watch?” or maybe “Do you prefer live music or live theater?”. get a better idea what to propose to each customer.

But are there other ways to collect data from your customers without asking them additional questions all the time? Yes, you can collect the data for advanced personalization using behavioral website tracking or integrations.

Behavior website tracking

Using behavior website tracking you would have the ability to collect more data than you would ever need about your website visitors using conversion rate optimization (CRO) tools.

User behavior are the activities that your visitors are doing after they land on your site. It could be clicks, scrolling through pages, reading blog posts, taking quizzes, and anything else you think will be useful to you. This could be really helpful at any time of the year,or example if you are tracking that Mike is browsing for items for his wife Laura and his 5 year old boy Jake, you can send him an email with suggestions for the perfect presents for his family.

Integrations

Another good option would be to use integrations. Get subscriber data such as past orders, total money spent, location, purchase data,and more, by integrating your email marketing tool with your CRM or e-commerce platform. There are a lot of integrations that could do all the work for you and you will just have to create the basic template, all the rest will be done automatically. So, at the end your recipient will get a perfect personalized email. For example if you are using our integration with Mautic, you could create a preference center using their how-to article.

Okay, now we have all the data that we need for our emails. Let’s see how to use it with our advanced personalization option.

How to use Advanced Personalization?

When it comes to personalized content, how you can decide which part of the content to be shown to specific targets? When the emails speak to what the subscriber wants to read about, your customers are much more likely to engage with them. Hence, you need to be sure that you offer email content that are targeted and relevant to the recipient. Now that you have all the data and segments set, create emails that are most suited and targeted for each individual subscriber.

Dynamic content is something that you can easily do with the our advanced personalization or the so called template language via our API. You can easily mix up the simple and the advanced personalization in one template, so you would have one beautiful email at the end.

What is the difference between both types? As we saw, standard personalization is taking the information from the data you provided while uploading your list at Mailjet, so we already have this information on our side.

But advanced personalization is actually asking your systems about the information that we should display in the email. In the API call you are going to set up the properties and configure the path to the destination from where the API call should take them.

There is a slight difference also in the way the both type of personalizations are being set up. If you are creating your template in Passport to use the standard personalization, you can use the way described in our previous article, or manually by typing:

{{data:nameoftheproperty:”defaultvalue”}}

The advanced personalization could be set up by manually typing the following syntax:

{{var:nameoftheproperty:”defaultvalue”}}

As you can see the only difference is in the type of variable – one is data and the other is var. You can add it in this way in Passport or in any MJML/HTML template you are creating.

The way you should define those properties in your API calls, depends on the API version you are using.

  • In Send API v3.1 you should do it with the following piece of code:
"Variables": {
              "day": "Monday"
}
  • In Send API v3 the code is:
"Vars":{"day":"Monday"}

In the API call you can set up the path to the destination from which the variable should be taken. Our system will call this destination and replace the property with the value your system sends us.

Using Dynamic Content to Personalize Emails

One of the useful features of the template language is the dynamic content. Using conditions and loops, you can show part of your content only to the recipients you want.

You won’t recommend Mike buy his wife Laura men’s shoes right? Or his son a kitchen dining set?

We know that you can create such dynamic content using HTML without any issue, but now this is possible with Passport as well. Simply drag and drop the template language section wherever you want within the template, like shown below:

Templating-Language-section

You can create any condition, or loop where the content can be shown to each of your segments. You can also use any information that you have saved in your CRM or database. For example age, gender, city, or interests. If you are using behavioral website tracking, this could also be used as source of information.

Another option would be to segment a whole section using Passport. To do this, you will need to select the section you want, and in the upper left corner you will have the option to add a property and segment based on it.

template-language-block

Click on “Add condition” and configure the right option for your specific use case. You can choose whether the property should be equal to a specific term, or greater than a value, or less than any value you choose.

template-language-condition

You can find everything you need on how to use the dynamic content with our template language in this article.

Personalizing the content and copy of the email boosts engagement and loyalty. Sending tailor-made and relevant content increases the click-through rates of your emails. By dynamically changing content, you will be able to send the most relevant emails to every subscriber. They will see offers and products that they are more likely to be interested in, thereby increasing the likelihood of a purchase.

What can you add as dynamic content? Almost anything! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • VIP Loyalty section – categorize your subscribers based on their purchases and send specially tailored offers and discounts to them. This will help your brand engage customers stronger and drive revenue.
  • Recommendations – when you send recommendations based on a recent purchase, there is an increased chance of them purchasing the recommended products.
  • Wish Lists – you have an item that a customer added in their wish list? Add this as a reminder in the next email you are sending them. They might still want it.
  • Abandoned Carts – someone left behind an item in their cart? Remind them about how awesome that product is, hey they may still want it. You can see how to code abandoned cart emails using MJML in our tutorial.
  • Birthday/Anniversary discounts – what better way to celebrate a birthday than by providing them a discount? You can do the same when someone has been with you for a month, a year, or any anniversary worth celebrating.

Summing Up

The best part is that all of this can easily be done with our email builder Passport! And you will only need to define the variables you used for the advanced personalization in your API call.

You can create one template that full of variables, but everyone of your subscribers will receive an email that is perfectly customized for them. Don’t waste your time with different templates for all your customers You can easily have one template that will adapt to the customer.
With the strategies listed above, you can set up a winning personalized email strategy for your business. Your customers receive dozens of emails everyday, so your email needs to stand out. Personalization can do this for you! Try it out and see how your emails can build stronger relationships between your brand and your customers.

If you want to be the first to know everything new about how to create great emails or use Mailjet in the best way, just follow us on Twitter and Facebook!