Litmus Blog Litmus Company Blog Fri, 22 May 2015 15:09:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Verizon-AOL Deal: What It Might Mean for Email Marketers Fri, 22 May 2015 15:09:19 +0000 Although Verizon’s $4.4 billion purchase of AOL was all about adding more content, video, and ad generation to the mobile communication company’s distribution platform, the acquisition could transform Verizon into a major email inbox provider, likely to the benefit of email marketers.

Webmail Client

Currently, AOL Mail is the 5th most popular webmail client and the 10th most popular email client overall. As of April 15, 2.25% of all webmail email opens and 0.67% of all email opens took place in AOL Mail, according to an analysis of more than 1 billion email opens using Litmus’ Email Analytics.

Email Client Market Share - April 2015

Verizon already operates email inboxes under the Verizon and FiOS banners, so expect them to consolidate the frontend look and functionality and the backend infrastructure. That, plus great visibility and better marketing of their email service, could easily translate into Verizon doubling AOL’s email client market share over the next 12-18 months.

Mobile Email Client

AOL mobile email client would likely see a major revamp, as it currently only supports AOL email accounts, doesn’t support ALT text, and doesn’t support media queries for responsive design.

AOL Mail Mobile App Does Not Support Alt Text or Media Queries

Since Verizon is a mobile company at its core, this would be a clear priority. With email client market share clearly shifting toward mobile clients and away from desktop and webmail clients, this would be a smart move even if Verizon didn’t have mobile in its DNA.

For a full discussion of the Verizon-AOL deal and how it might affect email marketers, read the full column at

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Community Spotlight: Mark Robbins Wed, 20 May 2015 16:27:18 +0000 The Community Spotlight is a new monthly blog series highlighting some of the amazing members of the Litmus Community.

This month, we’re chatting with Mark Robbins, an email designer, Community all-star, and musician. You can follow him on Twitter and check out some of his work on his website.

So who are you and what do you do?

I’m Mark Robbins and I work for Rebelmail where I build interactive and experimental emails.


When did you first get involved with email marketing and design?

A little over 2 and a half years ago I got a job at The Learning People, where I was tasked with building the HTML emails that account for a large part of the traffic to the site.  After a couple of months of this I got curious as to why certain things couldn’t be done.  Why can’t I use an <li>? What’s going to break, which clients will it break in and what will it look like?  I started doing my own tests and found a lot more was possible if you spend a little time on it.

The Learning People were great at giving me the opportunity to build my knowledge.

What are some of your favorite tools? And what does your typical design process look like?

I love Litmus obviously, the testing I do there is hugely valuable. It’s just not practical to test on that many devices without it.

Kevin, our designer, will work closely with a brand to create a design that makes use of our interactive technology whilst staying true to the brand identity, and that really enhances the email user experience.

Then I have a gulp workflow to build the actual code. I can break my code down into modules and then every time I save it compiles the code and refreshes a preview in the browser.  This means I can make a change to the header, footer or even the master CSS and it’ll be applied instantly across all the templates using that module.

What’s your favorite email hack?

There are so many I love. It’s one of my favorite things about email, I love that it’s dirty and you have to get creative to make things work.

My overall favourite has to be the checkbox (or radio button) hack, it’s what most of the interactive stuff I build is based on.  It can really expand the possibilities in email.

Mark presenting at Completely Email.

Mark presenting at Completely Email.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in email today?

The unknown.  When a browser releases a new version they will document the changes and have a beta release available for developers to test on.  In email, we don’t know about a change in an email client until someone posts on twitter or the Litmus Community.

You’ve done some pretty impressive email experiments, including a games in email and some interesting Community Contest entries. How do you come up with new ideas to test out?

Ideas can come from anywhere, usually a small comment and it just gets me thinking—how can I put that in an email? How could I push that further?

Justin Khoo, suggested putting a score counter in a game so I built ThWack-a-Vole.

Andrew King, made a comment about Super Mario in an email so I built Mario.

Mike Ragan did a great talk about pixel art in email, which inspired me to build a dancing Carlton Banks (this one takes a while to load).

One of Mark’s recent Community Contest entries.


Also the guys at Rebelmail don’t think about limitations, they really push me. On quite a few occasions I’ve said no that’s not possible, then a day, a week or even an hour later I’ll find a solution.

My experiments aren’t always practical but it’s not about that, it’s about pushing the limits to find what’s possible. That can then be scaled back into something that will work for the end user.

What do you think email will look like in five years?

I really like the look of the Microsoft HoloLens. I think we’ve had enough of screens getting smaller—how much usable information can you actually fit on a watch face?  I think this holographic augmented reality type technology is the future.  You won’t be squinting to read your email on a tiny screen, you’ll be reading off a wall or a table, or just have them floating a few feet in front of your face.  And Outlook 2020 will still render emails in Microsoft Word.

When can we expect 2 String Slim to play at The Email Design Conference?

When you meet my rider demand of 1000 brown M&Ms to fill a brandy glass.

Join the Community

Not a Litmus Community member? Join the best minds in the email industry as they discuss the latest email news, cutting-edge techniques, and solutions to even the trickiest email design problems. Don’t forget to check back for next month’s Community Contest and enter for a chance to win more great prizes.

Join the Community →

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How to Make a Cart Abandonment Email ‘Sandwich’ Tue, 19 May 2015 13:46:48 +0000 While the adoption of shopping cart abandonment emails is growing slowly, the trend toward cart abandonment email series is growing quickly. Among those retailers using cart abandonment emails in December 2014, 50% sent a series of emails, up from just 19% the previous year, according to Salesforce Marketing Cloud research.

Sending a series of cart abandonment emails gives brands more opportunities to convert carts into orders. However, many brands are largely sending the same hard-sell message over and over. Consider including a little soft-sell messaging in the middle of your 3-email cart abandonment series to create what I call a cart abandonment email “sandwich.”

To make one of these sandwiches, you lead with a straightforward “You left this in your cart” email notification, followed by a more service-oriented browse abandonment message, and then finish with another fairly direct cart abandonment message.

Here’s a great example from Blue Nile, which uses this cart-browse-cart abandonment email series approach to respond to abandoned carts. The first email in the series is very direct: “You left this item in your cart, plus we have financing available.” The second email takes a browse abandonment approach by recommending other products in the diamond earring category. And the third and final email gets back to a more pointed “you left this in your cart,” but then follows with more alternative recommendations.

Blue Nile's shopping cart abandonment email 'sandwich'

For a full discussion of this approach to shopping cart abandonment emails, read the entire article on the Cloud.IQ blog.

Check out the article →

And to learn more about optimizing the email experience and cart abandonment email trends, attend the Cloud.IQ webinar that Justine Jordan and I are doing on May 28 at 10 am ET. Register to attend and receive the recording.

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Episode 13: Community Contests and Creative Email Navigation Thu, 14 May 2015 18:17:06 +0000 In the 13th episode of The Email Design Podcast, hosts Kevin Mandeville and Jason Rodriguez dive into their favorite entries in the creative navigation Community Contest. Check out all of the entries here and be sure to follow along and join in the discussion on Twitter using #EmailDesignPodcast.

Watch the full video above or listen to the audio-only version below.

Download the MP3

In this episode:

Follow the Email Design Podcast

Subscribe to the Email Design Newsletter to get updates on the Email Design Podcast along with a curated selection of our favorite articles and resources on email design.

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How to Avoid the Perils of Overly Salesy Emails Thu, 14 May 2015 14:04:50 +0000 While email marketing excels at driving sales for retailers, there are very real dangers to being overly promotional with your email messaging mix. The rising danger is because of two developments over the past several years:

  1. Emails have moved from desktops to mobile devices. That has shortened the time between when emails are sent and when they are opened because consumers carry their phones with them all the time. However, for the very same reason, it’s also made the inbox into a more personal place.
  2. The number of promotional emails that retail brands send each of their subscribers has more than doubled on average over the past 7 years, according to my own tracking. In 2007, retailers sent each subscriber 95 emails on average. Last year, it climbed to 215. And none of that includes the growing number of triggered emails that are sent in response to cart abandonment, browse abandonment, inactivity, and other behaviors.

Beating the “buy, buy, buy” drum too hard will cause more subscribers to start tuning you out and drive up the number of subscribers going through your reengagement program. To avoid that fate, expand your definition of delivering value and look to engage subscribers with content that primes them to be receptive to future hard-sell messaging.

Consider the following soft-sell tactics:

  • Education. For many products, consumers don’t know they need it until they’re educated about the product or about the circumstances that drive its need.
  • How-To. Similar to education, how-to advice is rather critical for suppliers of raw materials, like home improvement stores and art supplies stores.
  • News & Information. News and other updates can keep subscribers engaged with the product category that’s key to your business.
  • Social Interactions. Part of what becomes grating about promotional emails is that it’s always the brand talking at the subscriber. By leveraging social interactions, you can bring the voice of your customers into your messaging.
  • Cause Marketing & Branding Building. What does your company care about besides selling things?

For a full discussion of these tactics, plus real-world examples, read the entire article on

Check out the article →

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