Email-Related Articles

Email design trends, development, ESP comparisons and more...

Derek Sivers (@sivers) is an author, musician and entrepreneur famously known for founding CD Baby. What started as a hobby, turned intro an independant music juggernaut helping over 150,000 musicians sell $100m worth of music. This interview was taken from my Yo! Podcast interview with Derek Sivers:

[Rob] Is it true you recently answered over 2,000 emails in 48 hours?

[Derek] Yeah, and 6,000 in 10 days.

[Rob] Wow. So I'm fascinated by this firstly because of the personal human connection here is incredible. When I told people you were coming on the Yo! Podcast, they replied, "Oh, rad, Derek emailed once back in the day." But secondly, I'm fascinated by how the hell you did it. For context, for the listeners out there who don't know what went down, Derek sent a simple text-only email to his mailing list at the start of the pandemic simply asking, "Are you okay?"

[Derek] I did.

[Rob] ...and you received 6,000 emails back. Have you coded your own email clients? Are you using brilliant macros?

[Derek] Well first, yes to both. I did write my own email client in the PostgreSQL database using Ruby and Sinatra on the front end. But I'm a nerd like that. And then yeah, I do have 25 macros for my top 25 most used sentences, I have them mapped to keys [using the backslash]. So that's with my right pinky. And then usually I'm able to answer most emails in under five seconds. I just kind of quickly read, send. So that's how I'm able to answer hundreds a day. And I enjoy it. I really love the connection, I love hearing from people. I spend a lot of time in solitude just writing, so it's exhilarating to connect with 500 people in a day, and have 500 people's lives and words coming through my screen, through my eyeballs, into my mind. Because with every one, I have my email client set up like a [Customer Relationship Manager]. For every email that comes in, I also see on the right hand side of the screen, who this person, where on earth they are, their first email ever to me. Just my history of this person on the right hand side of the screen. So every email that comes up, even if they're just sending me a sentence like, "Hey, man, good to hear from you. All is well," sometimes I look and it's like, oh, whoa. That was an email from the second guy that ever sent me his music to CD Baby back in 1997. Cool, Dennis, how are you man?

[Rob] ...and they're blown away?

[Derek] Yeah, but I am too. Because it's like, whoa, blast from the past. Yeah, by sending out that email, I was hearing people that maybe I met a conference once in 1998, or slept over at my house in 2005. That's why I was sending this email to everybody. It's like, these are my people. I know a lot of these people. I mean some of them are just anonymous people who signed up to my mailing list, or left a comment on my site. But a lot of them are people that I have a connection to. Yeah, it's worth it to me.

[Rob] Incredible. You mentioned, on your website, sivers.org, there's no analytics?

[Derek] Oh, God, no.

[Rob] So do you have any data from these email sends? Are you tracking list open rates, click rates, what emails are working, what aren't?

[Derek] No, no, no, no, none of that, no. No, there's no hidden trick. I don't send HTML emails, there's no little hidden pixel or anything. No, it's just plain text.

[Rob] What are you using to actually send the list?

[Derek] My server.

[Rob] Wow, amazing. I know that in that send that said, "Are you okay?" you started with your first name in the email subject, and I reckon that hit a heartstring.

[Derek] Well to me that's just good manners. Like once a year, I get somebody who's offended by that. Like, "It's not really okay of you to use my name. It's not like we're old friends or something." But to me, it's just good manners.

[Rob] I thought it was classy, serious.

[Derek] Thank you. I've been doing that since the '90s, like to all my CD Baby customers. Actually I got a whole chapter on that in my book, about how I used to do these things. Because I was sending the emails directly from the server, I would actually munge the from address, so if I were sending you a CD Baby confirmation email, it would say that the from name was "CD Baby Loves Rob." And Tracy would get one that says the from was, "CD Baby Loves Tracy." And I thought well, come on, it takes one line of code to do that. It's fun. It's funny. Why not?
If you are enjoying this conversation, don't miss the rest of the Yo! Podcast.
Friends, the day is finally here, Email Love has officially launched! It has been quite a ride since acquiring the emaillove.com domain back in Oct 2018. There are over 100 emails I've handpicked for inspiration so far but it's still early days. Let's take a look at what Email Love has cooking... ps. Email Love is now on Product Hunt if you have questions or want to show your support - I really appreciate it:)

Article Breakdown

  1. Email Inspiration
  2. Email-Related Design References
  3. Email Newsletter Discovery
  4. Email HTML Templates
  5. Email Author Profiles
  6. Website User Experience
  7. How to follow Email Love content
  8. Email Love Transparency

01. Email Inspiration

emaillove.com/inspiration The core of Email Love is getting inspiration and references to create your own beautiful emails. Let's take a look at the email view reused around the site: [browser img="https://emaillove.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/email-love-inspiration-overview.jpg" url="https://emaillove.com/inspiration" cap="Email Love - email inspiration overview"] It's been super fun building this email view. I keep asking myself:
"What exactly would a user want when researching email inspiration?"
Let's take a deeper look: [browser img="https://emaillove.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/eml-email-inspo-details.jpg" url="https://emaillove.com/inspiration" cap="Email Love - email inspiration breakdown"] Yup, all emails around Email Love are the actual coded emails. There are three huge benefits:
  1. Email code inspection
  2. Mobile view
  3. Better showcasing of GIF animations within emails vs screenshots (example)
Mobile and Code view switcher   A few more fun facts about the coded emails:
  • All email links and tracking pixels are stripped, so stats don't get funky on the email authors side.
  • All email images are scraped, sent to TinyPNG for optimization, then uploaded to Amazon S3. The new image location now replaces the old, ensuring 100% uptime as well as not exhausting the author's servers.
  • The above drastically improves the code inspection experience as URLs are much shorter.

02. Email-related Design References

emaillove.com/refs Still a young section but the goal is to list particular design elements related to email. The first sub-category is Newsletter Sign Up Box design references to spark ideas to create your own: [browser img="https://emaillove.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/tattly-sign-up.jpg" url="https://emaillove.com/refs/newsletter-sign-up-box/" cap="Newsletter Sign Up Box - design reference"]

03. Email Newsletter Discovery

emaillove.com/discovery With the overwhelming abundance of newsletters, I want to try tackle discovering great ones while spotlighting their hardworking authors. Each review includes:
  • Actual coded preview of the campaign sends
  • Send frequency eg. weekly, monthly
  • Newsletter author credit (name, image, website)
  • Subscriber testimonials
  • Direct newsletter subscribe link
[browser img="https://emaillove.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/email-love-discovery.jpg" url="https://emaillove.com/discovery" cap="Email Love - discovery email example"]

04. Free Email HTML Templates

emaillove.com/templates Only a handful of templates for now, but they 100% attribution free and yup, they work in Mailchimp;) [browser img="https://emaillove.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/email-love-templates.jpg" url="https://emaillove.com/templates" cap="Email Love - free templates"]

05. Email Author Profiles

Each email featured has an author credit linking to their profile on Email Love. This is great if you like a particular author style and want more great references. Each author profile also links to their Twitter and website. [browser img="https://emaillove.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/emaill-love-authors.jpg" url="https://emaillove.com/author/tattly/" cap="Email Love - author profile example"]

06. Website User Experience

Having ten years experience gathering feedback while building One Page Love, I'm confident we're off to a flying start:
  • All email preview images are hosted with IMGIX for lightening fast image delivery.
  • Archives are all infinite scrolling for an optimal browsing experience
  • The fixed, single-bar top navigation offers quick dropdown sub-categories browsing
  • The search (using SearchWP) has been heavily customized to suggest relevant categories and tags as you type in real time:
[browser img="https://emaillove.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/email-love-search-suggestions.jpg" url="http://emaillove.com" cap="Email Love - suggestive search"]

07. How to follow Email Love content

Other than visiting emaillove.com regularly, there are three additional channels to get notified of new content. Email Love Newsletter - emaillove.com/newsletter - sent every two weeks (preview) curating only the best content from the website. Email Love RSS Feed - emaillove.com/feed - all content is showcased on the RSS feed in a summarized form with a screenshot. I'd recommend using Feedly for RSS if you don't know about it. [browser img="https://emaillove.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/email-love-rss-feed.jpg" url="http://emaillove.com/feed" cap="Email Love RSS feed preview on feedly"] Email Love on Pinterest - pinterest.com/email_love - super motivating for me to see the low stats but I'm pinning new emails daily! (FYI: OPL has 370,000 monthly viewers on Pinterest, Email Love has 89) [browser img="https://emaillove.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/pinterest.jpg" url="https://emaillove.com/go/pinterest" cap="Email Love - pinterest"]

08. Email Love Transparency

emaillove.com/transparency ... last but not least I'm documenting the journey building Email Love while sharing behind-the-scenes breakthroughs, running costs, stats, milestones and more. Let me know what else you want to know:) Here are the start-up costs taken from the Transparency page:
Cost Item Source
$1500 emaillove.com domain via Afternic (watch)
$678 Outsourcing on email code cleaning script via Upwork
$250 Branding clean up by my friend Jason
$2428    

Well that's a wrap for v1 of Email Love - early days but I'm super proud of this little guy so far. Big thanks to everyone who sent feedback during the BETA, please keep sending your suggestions as well as submitting those sweet sweet emails.
To celebrate my 36th bday (today!) I've soft-launched the new Email Love site with only 36 emails in the archives. It is still early days but I hope one day this website will become a quality resource for Email inspiration, templates and tools. I have around 500 emails in the queue to add (that I've been curating since Nov 2018) but want Google to start indexing the categories while the community can submit their favorites too. Here is the launch Tweet if you want to help spread the love:) So if you're wonder who is typing this? My name is Rob Hope, a maker from Cape Town, South Africa. In 2008 I started the One Page Love website - a leading resource of One Page websites that has become my full time gig. This year, I thought I'd give email a bash.

Known Bugs:

Keep sending please!
  • Responsive design non-existent on reviews pages
  • Search is quite funky
[about-links]