Category - Email Development

When “Oops!!!” Happens

You know the feeling, right? 

You take a ridiculous picture and text it to your friend, then check your phone a minute later and realize you actually sent it to a client.

Or you make a smart-aleck comment about the new office policy in an email to your co-worker, but according to your Sent folder, it actually went to your boss.

It’s embarrassing, and it happens to the best of us.

Literally the best of us. Like Amazon.

This week, someone in Amazon’s content marketing department accidentally sent their email template to part of their database.

In the grand scheme of mistakes, from “embarrassing photo” to “made salary info public,” this is fairly mild, but it’s a peek behind the curtain that I’m sure Amazon would have preferred to avoid.

Anyone who’s worked in email marketing likely has some sort of embarrassing story like this. At a former company, a draft copy of one of my emails was erroneously sent as the finished product. Unfortunately, the draft copy included several incomplete brainstorming ideas and an out-dated pricing model.

When an “oops” like this happens, you have two choices: 

  • Ignore it and let it blow over
  • Do some damage control

The one you choose usually depends on the severity of the mistake. If you sent something embarrassing to a client or a superior, a brief apology is definitely in order.

If you sent an email with incorrect information, you’ll certainly need to apologize, provide the correct info, and consider offering a discount as a goodwill gesture. 

But if you’d prefer to avoid these errors altogether, an email creation platform (ECP) like Knak can help. Knak’s editor has a built-in approval process that serves as a series of checks and balances. Once an email is built and an approval order is established, the email moves through the process easily and with great visibility.

Emails are tested, so before anyone hits “send,” you have peace of mind that:

  • They’ll render correctly across all email clients
  • Links are working (no broken emails)
  • Brand guidelines are in place
  • All feedback has been incorporated

Mistakes can be avoided. Knak can help organizations of any size – from a two-person start-up to a global enterprise – create incredible, on-brand emails quickly and make sure that what lands in in-boxes is exactly what was intended.

You’re still on your own with the text messages though.

Want to learn more about mistake-free emails? Request a demo to see how Knak can help level up your email strategy.

Not ready to chat yet? Check out our product page to learn more about Knak.

Knak is the first email creation platform built for marketing teams. We help you create beautiful, responsive, world-class emails – no coding required. Get to know us at knak.com.

An Email Creation Platform Built for the Enterprise

What to look for & why it matters

A good email creation platform (ECP) is hard to find. While email sending platforms (ESP) are fairly common, most of them lack the major features needed to be a true creation platform.

An ECP can transform the way your marketing team works, making it easy for anyone to build incredible emails that keep your brand at the center, no coding required, and if you’re part of an enterprise, this is great news.

Enterprise marketing teams have a unique set of challenges, and an ECP built for the enterprise – an Enterprise Email Creation Platform (EECP) – helps you overcome them, one email at a time.

Read on to find out how an EECP is strategically designed to help you market at scale.

A different set of challenges

Enterprises are used to dealing with a complex set of email marketing challenges. Collaborating with large teams across multiple locations while staying on brand and ensuring compliance requires a solid strategy and a creation platform that helps you reach your goals.

Here are the features to look for when it’s time to supercharge your team’s efforts:

Brand management: Look for a platform that gives you full control over your brand’s fonts, images, colours, and more, so each department can create amazing emails that adhere to brand guidelines.

A platform that uses email modules instead of templates is key here, as pre-built modules with guardrails in place give your team greater creative control and the flexibility to make on-brand modifications without needing to code.

Other important brand management features to look for:

  • Access – determine what your team can access, view, and sync
  • Multiple brands – manage guidelines for multiple brands across your business, including those in different geographic locations
  • Building rules – establish pre-approved parameters to ensure emails are consistent

Simple creation: non-technical marketers should be able to build emails quickly without having to learn to code.

Transparent workflow: The right EECP makes workflow simple so nothing falls through the cracks.

Seamless collaboration: You should be able to collaborate across teams, departments, and locations easily. Other perks: the ability to collect feedback all in one place so changes can be made quickly.

Effortless approvals: With a properly defined approval order, the approval process is transparent and intuitive. Bonus points if the platform allows for annotated feedback so it’s easy to see who said what, when.

Instant integration: Emails should sync instantly to your sending platform and render flawlessly across any email client.

Responsive support: Your EECP should have a dedicated team that’s there when you need them.

Good email is in the details

Your enterprise team should be able to launch on-brand email quickly, easily, and at scale. A good EECP makes it easy for anyone on your team – even if they work in a different location or for a different brand – to create amazing emails without learning to code.

When you find the right one, you put the creativity back in the hands of your team and empower them to do what they do best: focus on the marketing.

If it’s time to find a better way to build emails, we’d love to chat. Request a demo and let us show you how the right EECP makes it easy to create incredible emails from start to finish! Not ready to chat yet? Feel free to browse through our product page to learn more.

How Knak Does Email: Creating Effective Email Briefs

Why you need them and what to include.

Download our free Email Brief template and start creating more effective email briefs today.

Look, we get it. We know email briefs take time. We know you don’t have a lot of time. And we also know that skipping the email brief can seem like a great way to speed up the email creation process.

But email briefs are important, and we think that skipping them is a mistake. Here’s why:

  1. They keep your team and your stakeholders in alignment
  2. They reveal areas of your strategy that need to be better developed
  3. They serve as a central location for copywriting/design/development updates (and keep each of those components on track)
  4. They’re a great archival record of your campaign strategy

Think of it like a packing list for your vacation. Sure, you might remember everything you need, but if you write it down ahead of time, there’s a much better chance you won’t be stuck at a ski resort without your gloves.

Creating email briefs doesn’t have to be overwhelming, so we’re breaking down the 10 things you should include, along with some insight to help keep your briefs on track.

After all, better briefs = better emails = better results.

1. Project Description

We recently sent an email announcing our 2019 Benchmark Report. In the email, we introduced the report and invited our database to download it, so, in the accompanying brief, we simply included a few sentences that spelled out the “what” of the project. It was short, to the point, and easy for the team to understand.

Use this section to specify the type of email it will be. Is this:

    • An email triggered by a previous subscriber action (an abandoned shopping cart, a prior purchase, etc)?
    • Geared towards lapsed customers?
    • Introducing a new product?

Break it down so that team members and stakeholders can easily get the point.

2. Objectives / Goals

How will you measure success? Decide what your KPIs will be, and set goals for each of them. Some common KPIs:

    • Opens
    • Click-throughs
    • Downloads
    • Conversions
    • Leads

In the case of our Benchmark Report, our KPIs were click-through rate and number of downloads. We set a goal for a certain number of downloads, so it’s been easy to tell if our results are on target.

3. Target Audience

Who will the email go to? Your full database or a particular segment? Take the time to clearly define this category using terms that match the audience selection tool in your marketing automation software.

4. Key Messages & CTA

What action do you want your readers to take, and how will you get them to do it?

    • Are you offering a discount?
    • Sharing exclusive content?
    • Using a compelling story?

Simplicity is key here. Emails with one clearly-stated CTA tend to perform much better than those that are diluted with a second one. Spell out your desired key messages so your writers and design team know where to put the emphasis.

5. Budget

Include budget for:

    • Copywriting
    • Design
    • Development

Stakeholders will appreciate having this clearly delineated from the outset of the project.

6. Inspiration

Was this project inspired by something else? Maybe you received an email or saw a blog post you loved, and you want to create something similar. Include a link to those inspiring pieces here so your copywriter and designer can use them for context.

7. Key Components & Considerations

If your strategy isn’t fully thought-out, this section is your friend. List your ideas, and narrow them down to a simplified plan for your email.
Things to consider here:

  • Are you going to A/B test something in your email?
  • What time of day should this email go out?
  • Will this likely be read on a mobile device or a desktop?
  • What will your “From” name be?
  • How personalized will your content be?
  • Do you want to include GIFs?
  • What and where should the dynamic content be?

Once your strategy is clear, spell it out in this section to keep your team in alignment.

8. Mandatory Elements

This probably won’t vary much from email to email, and if you develop it properly, it’ll save time in the design phase. We’d suggest you build a folder with your company’s required elements:

  • Standard fonts
  • Approved colours
  • Company logo/website
  • Social icons
  • Standard footer

Include the link to the folder, list the requirements for each particular email, and make life easy for your design team.

9. Tone & Voice

Specify the author of each email and clarify the tone you’re looking for. Once your writers have been working with you for a while, you may just need to list the author and let them take it from there, but at the beginning, take the time to spell it out. Link back to your inspiration pieces for reference if needed.

10. Timeline / Project Schedule

We use Asana as our project management software, so once the brief is finalized, we build the project and assign tasks. Our key milestones:

  • Brief approval
  • Copywriting complete
  • Design complete
  • Email built
  • Landing page built
  • Email tested
  • Program built in marketing automation platform (we use Marketo)
  • Approval
  • Deployment

Insert approval checkpoints along the way as needed. Some organizations require approval after each stage while some prefer to wait until the end. Tweak the schedule to fit your organization, but keep in mind that each round of revisions increases the time to deployment. Plan approvals strategically to get your emails out the door on time.

As you can see, our template isn’t overly complicated. Sure, it takes time to think through each project and fill it out, but we’d say that every bit of effort we put into it is returned in the form of a much simpler email creation process.

We have a new Marketing Manager (me!), and being able to look through past briefs has been really helpful as I craft our campaigns. But no matter how well-established our team is, we’ll continue to create these briefs to keep everyone on the same page.

That way, we’ve all got our ski gloves when we need them.

Ready to build your own email briefs? Download our free Email Brief template and get your projects off to a great start!

How Knak Does Email: Email Testing At-a-Glance

If you’re an email marketer, you may have some questions:

Should I put that heart-eyes emoji in the subject line of my email or leave it out?
What format is best for my content?
Will that GIF give me better click-thru rates?
Should my CTA say, “Download Now” or “Get the Facts”?
Should my CTA button be blue or green?
And while we’re at it, should my CTA button be at the top or bottom of my email?

Fortunately, there’s a great way to find out the answer to all of those questions. It’s called A/B testing, and if you’re not doing it, it’s time to start.

We’re going to take an in-depth look at email testing in the coming months, so consider this A/B Testing 101, and read on for some of the basics.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is the process of sending one variation of an email to a subset of your subscribers and another variation to another subset to see which performs better.

The “A” refers to the control group, and the “B” refers to the challenger, or test, group.

Here’s a real-life Knak example:
We launched our Knak newsletter recently. Beginning with our September edition, we wanted to test the efficacy of including an emoji in the subject line.

We set up the test in Marketo to send the newsletter with the emoji to 25% of our subscribers and the newsletter without the emoji to another 25%. The test ran, and at the end it, Marketo sent the email with the higher-performing subject line to the rest of our subscribers.

(The results? As you can see below, in September, the subject line without the emoji performed better. In October, the winner was the one with the emoji. Stay tuned for the tiebreaker …)

A/B test graph

Why do I need to do A/B testing?

If you aren’t doing A/B testing, you’re losing valuable insight into the marketing tactics that resonate with your audience. Over time, those insights translate into dollars.

Gain the insight ⇒ turn it into better campaigns ⇒ reap the benefits.

If you don’t have the insight, your campaigns are at the mercy of your marketing team’s best guess, and you won’t have the benefit of hard data to support those guesses.

Our recent Email Benchmark Report notes that only 46% of those we surveyed say they regularly conduct A/B testing. That means 54% of email marketers are leaving a wealth of information on the table.

Join the minority here. A/B test your campaigns, and get a leg up on your competition.

Ok, let’s make it happen.

Here are some A/B testing dos and don’ts to help you get the most accurate results:

  1. Don’t test more than one thing at a time.
    We know you want to see which subject line/emoji/CTA/format/font color works best, but you have to stick with one thing at a time, or you won’t know which piece is influencing which result.
  2. Do send both tests at the same time.
    The time of day that your email is sent impacts your open rates. Don’t weigh a green CTA button sent at 4 PM on Sunday against a blue CTA button sent at 8 AM on Monday.
    (Hint: email send time is a great thing to A/B test on its own. )
  3. Do set goals for your tests.
    You need to know what you hope to gain from your A/B testing. Are you trying to improve open rates? Click-thru rates (the ratio of “clickers” to email openers)?
    The metrics you’re trying to improve will dictate which elements you’re testing, so channel your inner middle-school science student and start hypothesizing. Finding out if what you think will work is actually what does work is a great learning exercise for your team.
  4. Do test more than once.
    If you truly want accurate results, you need to test and test again. If we had only tested our emoji-in-the-subject-line once, we would have thought it was ineffective. But since the results the next month showed something different, we know it’s worth exploring further.
  5. Don’t ignore the results.
    Collect the data and analyze it! Keep track of your results and use them to improve your campaigns. Do the results line up with your hypotheses? Do they support the types of campaigns you’re already sending? Do you need to consider tweaking your design? Insight like this is incredibly valuable and can have a lasting impact on your campaign results (and therefore your bottom line).

Help!

Marketo, Eloqua, and most other marketing automation software have built-in A/B testing capabilities. If you need help setting it up (or figuring out how to use it!), we can help!

After all, we’re marketers too, and we’d love to welcome you to the 46% of us who are improving our open and click-thru rates with A/B testing.

How to Streamline Your Email Creation Process

Recently, Knak sponsored an Email Benchmark Report. We gained a lot of valuable insight, but one thing that seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the piece was that the email creation process is generally frustrating, time consuming, and inefficient.

In fact, a majority of respondents told us that it takes a week or more to get an email campaign out the door. That’s an eternity in 2019, and we know there’s a better way.

Here’s where the hold up seems to be:

  • Inefficient creation process – campaign guidelines/timelines aren’t clear
  • Slow approval process – deployment is delayed because approval processes are murky (or non-existent)
  • Design updates – templates are inefficient, and even a minor change means the email has to go back to the designer

These things are problematic at organizations of every size, so whether you’re an SMB or an enterprise, there’s a good chance your email creation process could be more efficient.

No matter how big or small your company is, you need to be thinking about scale. But how can you be ready to scale if your existing process is inefficient and labor intensive? And even if it’s going well, how would it work if you suddenly needed to scale up?

A scalable email marketing plan keeps you agile so you can keep delivering knockout campaigns without sacrificing quality and creativity. But you can’t wait until it’s time to scale to put a solid plan in place. Doing the legwork now ensures that you’ll be ready to add on whenever you need to.

Here are some ways to streamline your email creation process so you can be more efficient right now and ready to scale later.

What are you working with?

Take a look at the existing pieces of your Marketing department:

People – Who’s on your team? Do their existing roles optimize their strengths? How is their current workload?
Make sure:

  • Your team can handle an increase in projects without neglecting their current customers
    They have the right skills to reach the new areas you’re targeting
  • Evaluate your current team, identify their strengths, and determine what crucial skills are missing. Once you see what your current team is capable of, you can identify where you need to hire to help you reach your goals.

Processes – Scaling up your marketing can easily turn into one giant headache if you’re not intentional about it. Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a step back, evaluate your current process, and see what’s working.
Can you:

  • Adjust your content without time-consuming re-designs?
  • Get through the approval process quickly?
  • Easily identify where you’re seeing a positive ROI?

If you can’t quickly identify what’s working (and what’s not), go back to the beginning and think through each step in your process. Once you have a clear picture, you’ll be in a better position to scale.

Technology – What’s in your MarTech stack? Do you have a piece of tech that could be making your life easier? Make a list of the pain points you’re experiencing and then take a look at your technology.
Is there:

  • Something you already own with a functionality you’re not using?
  • An area you could automate to help eliminate errors?

The right technology is vital as you scale. Whether you need to leverage a piece of tech you already have or look for something new to help resolve those pain points, a thoughtfully designed tech stack will help reduce human error and free up your team to focus on growth. Better technology = a smoother process, better results, faster time to market.

Time to Streamline

Now that you’ve examined the moving parts of your email process, we’ve got some inside tips to help you turn it into a well-oiled machine.

Here are six things that will keep your campaigns on track and on time:

1. Provide a clear brief

  • Spell it out – all of it. Include your goal for the campaign, who it’s going to, and why you’re sending it. List target dates for each part of the process: copywriting, design, approvals, revisions, and launch.

2. Set a kick off meeting with key team members

  • Even if you’ve done a thousand campaigns together, have a meeting to make sure you’re on the same page.

3. Ensure alignment on goals and timeline

  • Buy-in from your team is crucial. A clear brief and a kickoff meeting will go a long way here, so make sure your team has the info they need to launch the campaign successfully.

4. Leverage your tech stack

  • We love Asana for setting and managing timelines and Knak for handling feedback. Remember: more automation = less human error, greater scalability.

5. Schedule time for revisions

  • Whether you’re using pre-built templates, coding from scratch, or designing from modules, revisions are a given. Build the time into your schedule so they don’t put you behind schedule.

6. Be strategic with your approval order

  • The most senior approver doesn’t need to see the first draft. Design your workflow so they’re not bothered with small edits and only see the (nearly) finished product. *Hint: the Approval Groups feature in Knak makes this simple!

The Right Strategy, The Right Scale

Your email creation process can be simple and ready to scale. It may take a bit to get there, but once you have the right strategy in place, you can eliminate delays and get your campaigns out the door quickly.

And as a bonus? The right strategy and the right technology makes scale simple. Your process will adjust when you need it to, and your team will be free to devote their time to what really matters: more creativity, optimized results, and knockout campaigns.

If you’re ready to talk strategy, we’d love to help. Reach out, and we’ll work with you to develop a plan that grows with your organization.

Announcing the 2019 Marketo Email Benchmark Study

The State of the Message, and what it means for you

Knak recently conducted our second annual Marketo Email Benchmark Study, and the results are in. We’ve covered everything, from deliverability and click-thru rates to team size and structure, popular email trends, and the technology that ties it all together.

Basically, it’s can’t-miss information for email marketers, so download the study now, and find out:

  • What your peers’ email marketing strategy looks like, and how yours stacks up
  • Which email components are making the biggest impact on click-thru rates
  • How to navigate through some common email marketing pain points
  • What technology can help take your email marketing to the next level

We surveyed Marketo Admins representing 40% of Marketo’s account base and analyzed millions of emails for this study, so get the report and give your team the insight they need to deliver best-in-class Marketo email performance at your organization.

Knak is the first email creation platform built for teams. We help you build beautiful, responsive, world-class emails, no coding required. Get to know us at knak.com.

How Knak Does Email: Using Siftrock to Improve Deliverability

When you launch an email campaign, your job isn’t over after you hit “send.” You’ve also got to manage the responses, and we’re not just talking about the replies that come from an actual person.

Out of Office and “Sorry, I’m no longer with the company” bounce-back messages can be a great source of new leads, so don’t leave potential business on the table.

SiftRock can make those emails work for you. It’s been a game-changer at Knak, and it’s why we’re featuring it in this month’s edition of “How Knak Does Email.”

Our motivation for using SiftRock is two-fold:

  • We’re sticklers for organization, and SiftRock helps keep our list clean and organized.
  • It helps us identify new contacts (and new potential customers) by analyzing those bounce-back replies.

How It Works

Essentially, SiftRock mines data from auto-replies. When Bob Smith tells you he’s out of office, but you can contact Jane Harris if you need anything, SiftRock sends you Jane Harris’ info and job title so you have a new lead within the company.

When Jack tells you he’s no longer with the company, but you can reach out to Megan instead, SiftRock removes Jack from your list and lets you know about Megan. So, instead of losing a contact, you’re immediately replacing it with someone new.

And when Frank replies to your email to ask for a demo, SiftRock routes the email to the right sales rep so your customer isn’t kept waiting while you sort through unrelated responses.

SiftRock also scans auto-replies for key info, like job title, address, and updated phone numbers, and then adds it directly to the contact’s record in your CRM. More data, more for your sales team to work with.

A Clean List = A Happy Sales Team

Data hygiene is critical in terms of our productivity at Knak. If our list is outdated, our sales and customer success team is spending time reaching out to contacts who have changed jobs, left the company, etc.

The first time we tested an email with SiftRock, we were surprised to find that more than 10% of the replies we received were job change notifications. Because the responses were flagged, we were able to make note of those changes, and personally reach out to the new contacts to introduce our team. SiftRock also removed the outdated contacts from our CRM, which means our team won’t call, email, or otherwise waste time trying to contact them.

SiftRock initially told us that databases become outdated at an average rate of 22% per year. With their software helping to clean up our list, we’re able to stay on top of that turnover and maximize our sales team’s time.

A Clean List = Better Deliverability

The more you email dead contacts, the greater the likelihood that your emails will be flagged as spam. SiftRock has helped us avoid this by making sure our list is up to date.

Think back to the example of our first email: those job-change responses would show up as bounces to ISPs. If we can cut down on those by 10% with every email we send, we’ll keep our deliverability high and our content out of the spam folder.

The deliverability component is also key to customer service. When deliverable emails start to be flagged as spam, the customer experience takes a hit.

Basically, SiftRock is making life easier at Knak. It’s helping us work smarter and take advantage of one of our most important resources: time. And since we’re a company that’s dedicated to making Marketers’ lives easier, we’re happy to share the wealth.

Note: SiftRock has some other cool features too, so take a look at their site and find out what they can do for you.

Knak is the first email creation platform built for teams. We help you build beautiful, responsive, world-class emails, no coding required. Get to know us at knak.com.

Recap: MarTech East 2019

Knak Team at MarTech East

Top trends and takeaways from Boston

I look forward to any opportunity to connect with fellow Marketers, and MarTech East, which took place in Boston last month, was no exception. After all, if you truly want to know what’s top-of-mind for your peers, the best way to find out is to spend a few days deep-diving into conversation with them. It’s the most direct (and enriching) way to keep a finger on the pulse of an entire profession.

I’m also a big believer in the value of giving your team the opportunity to attend conferences. They get to meet people they might not otherwise interact with and gain valuable insight into the current state of your industry; you get the benefit of extending your organization’s reach and having a greater impact while you’re there.

For this event, we didn’t pull any punches. Our CEO, COO, Lead Email Developer, and I made the trip and spent three days chatting with Marketers from every type of industry, with every variation of job title.

Here are my key takeaways from the event, and why I left with the reminder that we’re all in this together.

What’s Trending?

I came across quite a few trends at the show, but the two that everyone was talking about were Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Are CDPs the next big thing?

CDPs have been buzz-y for the last few years, so it’s no surprise that I saw an abundance of CDP product offerings at the conference.
Unfortunately, lots of my fellow marketers are asking questions that seem to be motivated more by a fear of missing the bandwagon than by an actual understanding of the pros and cons of CDPs.

The fact of the matter here is that most organizations are already collecting and analyzing various types of customer data with the goal of getting a single view of their customers. So are CDPs the next big MarTech trend? The one that will move the needle and improve the bottom line? Or is the buzz simply being created by a few influential MarTech companies looking to create a market for their latest technology? The answer remains to be seen, but for better or worse, I don’t see the CDP hype dying down anytime soon.

What role will AI / Machine Learning play in the future?

AI was another hot topic, with many companies presenting their take on how to best use AI in a MarTech stack. Based on the number of conversations I had about AI, it’s something most Marketers are considering (in fact, Litmus predicted that AI would be one of the top email design trends for 2019).

The general consensus seems to be that it’s too early to make any big bets on AI, but if I were a betting man, I’d wager that it will dominate MarTech offerings in the coming years. The solutions will be similar to what’s available today, but with AI added to enhance performance. I imagine we’re still a few years away from a huge AI-powered MarTech breakthrough, but I don’t think it’s too far off.

Email Creation is a Universal Hang-Up

It’s always a positive feeling when your peer group reinforces your corporate “why.” It’s like checking your compass and seeing that, yes, you’re still moving in the right direction. So while I’m sorry to hear that the email creation process is still as painful as ever, it’s a good reminder to the Knak team that the work we’re doing is vital.

From the conversations I had, it was abundantly clear that most Marketers — Knak customers not included, of course — tackle email marketing the same way they’ve been doing it for years: develop a concept, wait for a designer to build the email, wait for feedback, wait for design changes, wait for approval, wait, wait, wait.

Knak’s goal has always been to simplify life for Marketers, so if we can eliminate one major headache-inducing activity from their day-to-day by simplifying email creation, we’re hitting our mark.

Face Time for the Win

One of my favorite parts of going on the road is the chance to connect with our customers and prospects in real time. In a world full of video conferencing and email, nothing beats face-to-face conversation, so we took the opportunity to host a VIP dinner get everyone together in the same room.

Knak Customer Dinner (Martech East)Our main intention for the dinner was to build relationships with our fellow marketers, but something else great happened: we got to introduce our prospective clients to existing Knak customers.

I truly appreciated the evening for what it was: a chance to put aside the business agenda and connect with some amazing likeminded people who share our passion for marketing.

It’s the People

In addition to the technical insight and great conversations, I left MarTech East with a renewed appreciation for the commonalities that Marketers share.
No matter what technology we add to our stack or what innovations change the game in the next two or three years, Marketing will continue to be a people-driven field, and I’m grateful to be part of a field — and a team — filled with such dedicated, creative people.

How Knak Does Email: Using GIFs to Improve Click-Thru Rates

Wish you had a better way to show off your brand’s personality? Tired of relying on plain old words to share your story? Animated GIFs are for you!

The good news is that GIFs are still underused in emails (69% of our survey respondents don’t use them), so including GIFs in your emails are a great way to make them stand out in a crowded inbox.

Best Practices for Including GIFs in Email

  • Pay attention to file size – if it doesn’t load quickly, readers will navigate away before they make it through your email. Crop it, remove some frames, rethink the animation, and then use a GIF compressor if you need to reduce it further.  
  • Consider the display – some email clients (namely Outlook) don’t support GIFs, so make sure any CTA included in your GIF is visible in the first frame.
  • Add thoughtfully – be strategic with your GIFs. Keep them surprising and subtle, and make sure they enhance your content rather than distracting from it. 

Animated Gif

Using GIFs in your emails is an awesome way to showcase your brand personality and make your content more engaging. Try adding a GIF to your next Knak email and see how your audience reacts! If you have any questions about adding GIFs into emails, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Intercom.

I Attended Litmus Live in London. Here’s What I Learned.

I went to Litmus Live London. Heres What I Learned.

Recently, I had the chance to work remotely from the UK. I’m always glad to be back in my homeland, and I was happy to see that the email community across the pond is thriving. I attended Litmus Live London while I was there, and I have to say that it was great to reconnect with my fellow English #emailgeeks.

The event was packed into a full day of talks, networking, and live email optimization. The talks fell into two categories:

  • Marketing
  • Design & Development

I primarily focused on the Design & Development side of things, and since the event, I’ve been reflecting on some interesting and inspiring trends that I observed. Here are my key takeaways and the things I’m excited to bring back to Knak.

Big, Bold Design Trends

Lily Worth’s talk on Visual Design Techniques to Ignite the Inbox showcased some of 2019’s best-looking email campaigns. The pieces she picked were great examples, and they really inspired me to reconsider the things that make companies stand out from the crowd.

She also shared some excellent examples from SaaS companies, including Helpscout, which uses custom illustrations and bold typography to great effect, and Asana, whose animated GIFs put educational animation for new product releases directly in the inbox.

As tech leaders, I think it’s crucial for SaaS companies to be at the forefront of email design innovation, and that’s what we’re working towards with the recently launched Knak newsletter. We need to find that perfect balance between useful product information, beautiful design, and email development innovation.

Accessibility

The web version of W3C has been around for a while, but since the mysterious art of email development still has many caveats, it’s been more difficult to establish best practices for accessibility.

Fortunately, accessibility was a key theme in this year’s Litmus Live talks. Paul Airy shared some particularly inspiring insight into how an accessible design system can be built into the email workflow (check out the accessibility switcher in this email for an example).

I’ve subscribed to his “Type E” newsletter for a number of years now, so I knew he would share some excellent, innovative ideas on email development, and his talk did not disappoint. We’re always trying to make Knak’s email code as accessible as possible, but I love the idea of empowering both users and senders alike to make emails accessible. Recipients should be able to interpret the content of your emails no matter what, and building a workflow and design system around this idea seems like a no-brainer for anyone sending out email on a large scale.

Workflow

Working towards email evangelism isn’t necessarily a linear process. Teams can be organized in various formats, so the email workflow should be built around the people involved and develop as necessary.

Mark Robbins covered this well in his talk on fostering innovation, neatly summarizing some necessary steps:

  • Understand what works best for you.
  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Write your own rules.
  • If it’s not working, change it.
  • Learn how to learn.

He also noted that avoiding stagnation and working towards innovation is key for everyone: individuals, teams, and the email community as a whole.

Miles Depaul continued the conversation by giving some interesting insight into how SCRUM can be used for email teams to work toward development style stories or goals in sprints. The Knak product team already uses the SCRUM methodology, and we’ve started implementing it on the marketing side as well to help us define and align our goals as we grow.

Miles suggested that SCRUM is important for email teams where a number of different roles and individuals are involved in the process.

In the coming year, I believe that software tools designed to streamline both individual and team workflow management will become increasingly important in our space.

All in all, I’m glad I had the chance to reconnect with the Litmus Live London crew. I’m grateful for another year of email inspiration, connection with my fellow #emailgeeks, and a solid variety of colorful socks.