Grégory Betton


We all know how transactional email is important. Have you ever written a transactional email all by yourself? In my last job, I worked as a Front-End developer for a big company and one of my tasks was to deal with emails: design, integration, responsiveness… I even wrote my own (lightweight) templating language. And believe me, that didn’t come without pain. On the contrary, transactional emails were my nemesis.

I’ve recently joined Mailjet as the new developer evangelist, working with the API crew, so I’ve taken the opportunity to ask around and learn how Mailjet can help developers overcome the numerous challenges they face. I sat down with Arnaud Breton, Head of API at Mailjet, Emmanuel Boisgontier and Zhivko Zhelev, in charge of API Customer Success, and Nicolas Garnier, MJML Product Manager, and here’s what they told me about Mailjet’s API, its templating language and the open-source markup language, MJML.

Hello, everyone! Happy to join the crew. 2016 has seen a lot of new features, and transactional seems to have been a key element in last year’s roadmap. Would you agree?

Arnaud: For me, 2016 is de facto the year of transactional emails. Did you know that their open rates are two to five times higher than marketing emails? Indeed, users are way more inclined to open a message they are expecting, which is the case with transactional emails. Would you throw away your plane tickets or your last e-receipt without any consideration?

Transactional email is therefore a must have for any decent web application. The actions that can trigger an email response are now countless, but even nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see transactional emails as bland, mandatory letters. Here at Mailjet, we think that they deserve better, starting with the tools used to create them.

And that’s why we have opened Passport, our template editor, to transactional emails, right?

Arnaud: Yes. We have a mission here: to bridge the gap between developers and emails owners. Transactional email is sometimes seen as email marketing’s poor relative. It’s a thing for developers solely, isn’t it?

Well, we strongly disagree. With Passport for transactional emails, we provide a tool that facilitates the collaboration between emails creators and emails owners. Designers and developers can build impressive templates easily, while the marketing and product teams can find the perfect wording and use tools like A/X testing to narrow down the best option. Automation and Send logic can also be implemented using our dedicated Send API.

So our clients can collaborate directly into our application. That makes a lot of sense. When I first discovered transactional emails, one key feature I wanted (and even tried to develop myself) was a templating language. Can you tell us more about ours?

Emmanuel: The need for a templating language is real. Today, if you want to create a personalized template, adding some basic variables is a great option, but it’s rather limited. Let’s say you want to send an email when your customer doesn’t complete his purchase. You’ll have to loop all over his cart items, show the product details… Maybe even add some conditions for a finer control.

Mailjet's templating language

Our customers were asking for it, so we decided to build our own templating language, usable with our API or directly in Passport. Inspired by Jinja and Twig, you’ll be so familiar with it you’ll think you’ve been using it for ages. You should have a look at our documentation and check out its full potential!

So creators have way more control over their templates, which is nice… But what if they want to dive into the HTML code? In the past, I’ve had to create some templates myself, and, to be frank, it was a nightmare.

Nicolas: Aha! HTML emails are not that easy indeed. You never know how email clients will display them. At Mailjet, this is an issue we’ve always had to deal with. And, as we were gaining in expertise ourselves, we felt that we had to share it with the world. That’s why we created and open-sourced MJML.

MJML is a very simple, yet powerful markup language. Using simple reusable components, you can design responsive email templates with great precision, in a small amount of time. And because we integrated it directly into Passport, you can preview your code in our live editor.

Mailjet in Passport

MJML, coupled with awesome tools like Litmus, will help you have full control of your transactional email templates.

In other words, here at Mailjet we want to facilitate the developer’s everyday life when it comes to sending emails, right?

Emmanuel: You can say that indeed. Another example may be our Email Automation tool. There is a lot of use cases for which you’d wish emails could be sent automatically. But implementing this type of service is challenging, as you have to handle every aspect of automation yourself.

To save you some precious time, we have built a fully integrated Email Automation tool. You can use predefined scenarios to trigger different emails, sending them to the right contact, at the right time. Wanna send a welcome series when someone joins? That’s now a piece of cake! No need to hire marketing automation experts and set up complex workflows anymore, we’re determined to do the hard work for you. So stay tuned, there is more to come!

I like this answer. But, there is something I’m a bit worried about. We have a lot of products, but don’t you think our users might get lost with all these possibilities?

Zhivko: At Mailjet, we try to provide the best product, and putting together comprehensive documentation is definitively a big part of it. But sometimes, there are issues that need to be addressed specifically. Since last August, we opened a dedicated API support team that’ll come in handy if you’re stuck with problems you can’t fix alone. Ask our experts. We’re all ears!

Ok, so you’re gonna have to excuse me but I have to write some transactional emails right now. Before I head off, any last secrets we can reveal to our users?

Arnaud: What I can say right now is that we will keep improving our API and products on a very regular basis. Want to stay posted? Subscribe to our newsletter or follow our Twitter account. hAPI coding, everybody!

At Mailjet, we know how important transactional emails are, and strive to continue our work to make developers’ lives easier. Check out Mailjet for Developers to see how we can help you, and keep an eye out for our updates and content. On top of that, you should learn how to get the most out of your transactional emails, there is always some room for improvements.

Come and say “hi” to Arnaud, Nico, Emmanuel, and Greg on Twitter, or share your thoughts on how to make Mailjet’s Transactional Suite by tweeting us @mailjetdev.