As a deliverability guy, I want to, so that

Apologies for the lack of content, there has been a lot going on: I had a kid and there was quite a lot of change at my company and with that I’m now a “Product Owner”, recently Scrum Certified too, still at Pure360 of course.

Hopefully this’ll not only give me more chances and things to blog about (so those of you who subscribed actually get something, sorry bout this one) but also give me a new, fresher and better angle than before…
It’s my team leading the Maturity Model and Best Practice Framework and of course I’m involved; along with making Pure360’s software suite amazing, we’re looking at Email Marketing as an industry, a medium and the people doing it and it’s a great time to do just that and use my experience to it’s full potential.

Fingers crossed I really do get/make the time.

A New Drag and Drop Email Editor

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Drag & Drop Editors

In the last couple of years or so, email editors have appeared which replicate the easy to make web-site tools allowing them to “drag & drop” components onto a page and change the content accordingly, thus giving everyone more structural options, whilst supporting today’s need for out of the box mobile responsiveness, without the need for coding or a costly re-build for wysiwyg editors each time.

The cost for these drag and drop editors is often a restriction on how much you can do; don’t get me wrong, it’s still more than a basic wysiwyg can do, especially with today’s responsive needs but it can be hard to make an easy to use drag and drop that supplies the flexibility to avoid lots of emails looking very similar across users.

Additionally these same editors also have to account for the ever-changing rendering environment and many take a while to update and often kill off old templates when they are.

Some do it better than others and Pure360’s is packed full of promise…

Pure360’s Drag & Drop editor

This is a point of personal rejoicing for me because I’ve been at Pure for so long and built so many emails and more importantly fixed so many emails for such varying skillsets.

Awaken the Sleeping Dragon-drop

Instead of rushing to market to compete, and delivering half a job, like so many others, they took their time and built it carefully to make sure it is the best editor it can be and better than the rest, and it’s on track to do just that.

They’ve managed to maintain that easy drag and drop interface, with the cheeky little light-sabre type animation guiding you to the drop, whilst providing such advanced options for your build.

Including: in app image editing (text, filters cropping etc.), multi-column creation and deletion, on-canvas text editing and the ability to save all content block types for re-use in future emails – from entire panels, to small columns to just a button.

On top of that, the under the hood, it’s got a finger printed, dynamic rendering engine which allows Pure360 to modify the rendering output as the inboxes change their requirements, which automatically updates all existing templates and saved blocks on their next use, without losing work.

If I’ve successfully earned your curiosity, they’ve made a particularly good video on the landing page.

Lightboxes Improve Cart Recovery

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Lightboxes increase abandon email capture…

One fragment of big data is utilizing browser and cart behaviour for better profiling, accurate product recommendations and cart abandonment emails.

One of the most prominent best of breed specific software packages for this service is FreshRelevance (used to be called: Triggered Messaging).
By installing script on your site much like you have for Google Analytics, the tool will watch your site and store product interaction on individuals who can be identified.

One of the very cool things it can do is look visitors up in your ESP when they click through from an email. This means that no personally identifying info is carried around and each bit of software is used for its core job and compliments the other.

However, as usual, one of the primary goals is to rescue and convert to new visitors who’s email address you do not have. If they don’t enter it you get nothing.
When someone is shopping as a guest it has become popular to ask them for an email address to save the cart. This avoids the often over complicated and tedious process of creating a whole new account at point of check out but it still allows you send an abandoned cart email.

If you use FreshRelevance it turns out at our trusted PadiAct is the lightbox of choice. Sign-ups through a PadiAct lightbox can be picked up by FreshRelevance and of course will send emails back to your choice of ESP where you do your welcome email thing too.

Stay tuned for some specific ecommerce lightbox tips

Microsoft giveth then taketh away

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Outlook on Android winning / windows 10 is made of fail

Just as the Outlook app finally promises to deliver responsiveness to Android thus completeing the responsive provision in the mobile world, Microsoft announces the new windows10 outlook that will not only ignore media queries, it is identical across all windows10 devices, no matter the screen size. So not even hybrid cannot make it work.

Could this give Gmail the excuse it needs not to bother with the promised responsiveness for its email apps?
Did anyone care about windows mobile, yet, will they ever, who cares?

Will the outlook app on android get less clunky and acheive its full potential? If so might that be enough for google to pull its finger out?
I like it, while it’s not quite ready yet the feature set is near perfect.

Either way time will tell but we’re still short on a responsive android since lollipop has dropped a native email client in favour of Gmail – that client was pony anyway.
Although my old XperiaZ just got lollipop and Sony’s left one in, not that I use it, I use Mailbox [function over fashion], until Outlook’s ready or Google makes something decent.

The great big data fragmentation

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Collections of focussed, specialised tools for each job instead of one big suite for all

It’s not a secret that the phrase “big data” didn’t actually bring anything new: single customer view, data mining etc. have been around for a long time. But the ability to attain, store and use that data tends to require a custom build in house or a very expensive all encompassing suite.

Subsequently it got written off for all but the larger brands who could use and value justify the cost of the big suite.

It felt like this knowledge had got lost over the generations of SME marketing managers whose predecessors had ripped the knowledge from the archives to save future generations from such disappointment.

The catchphrase “Big Data” was enough to bring these wants and dreams back to the minds and hearts of all marketers, including those who couldn’t afford it.

This time though, those people whose investigations would have thrown them into such hope of a feature set only to be broken by the price, had a much better time of it as will we all.

“Multitasking is the thief of quality”, today’s solutions are about specialist software, focussed and best of bread not the full all singing all dancing suites that may do everything but not all of it will be what you want.

The best of Big Data is a fragmented solution where you buy a solution to your problem not one solution to all problems and use what you need.

Focussed solutions like abandoned forms and baskets from software like Triggered Messaging, Light Box sign up forms from software like PadiAct, where the solution is a very narrow element but you get so much control and so many options and so much data.

Added to that, the new demands from the marketer have caused existing software providers to make more of their data available with added features to use it.

ESPs are a great example. While an ESPs will count each event that can happen to an email, the stats available are often basic. This new requirement has pushed ESPs to compete over data mining features as they have over deliverability, visual-editors and customer service over recent years.

Engagement, single customer view, automations, purchase & abandon purchase tracking and more are available from an ESP.

It may not surprise you to know that not all features are written by each ESP, some are white-labelled specialist 3rd parties. That is not a bad thing at all. No ESP has tried to write their own inbox preview software, most just API to Litmus and many even tell people about it.

The only concern is when brands get bought and solutions are bundled together as a single product but are not and feature quality is diluted as the suite grows.

A few seasoned ESPs have been bought by seasoned database & enterprise solutions firms or an ESP has bought other companies for features they want. There is a lot of confusion over what they actually offer now or what they were bought for and this will serve to open the door to the more fragmented solutions where you pick and choose dedicated best of breed solutions and expect them to work together.

Nowadays people expect the ESP to integrate more because that is the end point for the data but cloud based Single Customer view solutions are arriving to sit in between multiple databases and you ESP, keep an eye for them, they’re game changers.

Microsoft delivers the best Android email experience to date

In your Face Gmail, Outlook for Android is awesome

Historically Android has shipped a native email app which the various manufacturers have tweaked or not. On many occasions the app has rendered responsive but it has not been consistent across devices.

This is has not been the most popular email app on Android though, the Gmail app tends to be used by more people. This does not render responsive emails and instead tends to simply zoom out the desktop version to fit it into the screen width, unless some very clever coding is used.

Gmail recently released their ‘Inbox’ app which is a new email app with a focus on consumers who receive far more emails than they send. It is a very different experience from the Gmail app and now the novelty has run out from its original invitation only release, its popularity is fading.

This app has the same rendering engine as the Gmail app, so is also not responsive.

Google has since announced that future Android versions will not carry a native app and everyone will get the Gmail app, which will allow any email supplier to be used rather than just Gmail.

Microsoft have pipped Google to the prize of responsiveness on Android and may well be the “most progressive inbox provider” of the moment.

The Gmail app might be the most popular choice but it is by no means ‘loved’. The lack of responsive rendering, coupled with the auto tabbing and the fact that the menu is top left but the compose email button is bottom right, means some people have to swap hand to compose an email on large phones.

Whilst Gmail has confirmed that responsive rendering is ‘high on the list’ for the email products we have only seen automatically enlarged text in Gmail for the iPhone … check out the Email Design Podcast for more info.

Consequently it seemed that Android would be robbed of all responsive email potential.. until now.

After Microsoft acquired Acompli in December last year they joined the ranks of buying email apps rather than making it themselves.

The new Outlook app has been released only a few months later. We could easily speculate that work on this started before the acquisition.

On the Android, this app ticks all of the boxes.

  • There are only two tabs: ‘focused’ and ‘other’
    where focussed looks for conversations and emails from people and the other tab is more marketing and notifications etc.
    This is nice and simple.
  • More importantly and a big winner is the easy filter to show only unread emails.
    This is very handy seeing as many people use their inbox as a todo list and emails requiring actions are the unread ones.
  • You can schedule sending emails.
  • You can swipe emails.
    There is only two swipes – left or right, compared to Mailbox which two options either way. However, I only need ‘mark as read’ and ‘schedule’ because I live in the unread filter.
  • The other big winner is that it will render responsive emails.
    So now users of Android phones are no longer forced to use two hands to pinch zoom and scroll around a desktop email on a small screen.

For a full list of capabilities Alex at DisplayBlock has gone “under the hood

The app feels more focussed on business users, as expected, has the usual built in calendar and has some clever integrations with online storage providers too to help with sharing files.

Apple’s native email app on mobile devices is very popular due to that fact it renders everything like a browser, which separates it from almost all other inboxes in the desktop browser, desktop app or mobile devices. So Outlook with have a harder sale to convert people how are already set-up. However, with it’s integrated calendar and obvious interface, people are used to Outlook at work and those which do try it may well stick with it.