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July 7, 2023 - Articles

Email Peeps 19: Shani Nestingen

Shani Nestingen

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how did you get to where you are today?

I started working in the email space around 2006, when I began working as a web designer at a small agency. I hadnโ€™t done anything like it before. Before this role, I worked as a video production assistant – editing videos and retouching photos. When I moved on from the video production assistant role to the agency, I had the opportunity to code and take on some email projects for clients. I quickly found that I enjoyed the process, data, design, best practices, and coding aspects of the email projects. Progressively over my following roles, I focused more and more on the email space and made it my specialty. I worked within an ESP while designing and developing templates for various government and tourism entities.

After that, I went on to expand my knowledge in both B2B and B2C marketing messages. In 2017, I got the opportunity to transition to a new role which was focused on the heavy data-driven space of operational and transactional email messaging. Iโ€™ve had the fantastic opportunity to be active in the #emailgeek community, both on social media and in person, as a mentor. I have also been fortunate to give and be a part of several talks about my experiences in the email space around topics like email trends, dark mode, and accessibility.

It has been an exciting journey so far; not exactly what I thought I would be doing when I graduated from college as a fresh-faced multimedia/web designer, but I cannot wait to see where the email goes and what I can do in the future in the space.


What is your favorite email coding hack?

I donโ€™t know if itโ€™s truly a hack, but I enjoy trying out new trends especially when it comes to playing with interactive email content and full builds. I start everything with a combination of Symantec coding and building an email with a progressive enhancement approach. These both link together to create the best stable experience across all the various mail clients, OS, and devices.

One other thing I can think of that is โ€œhack-ishโ€ is using alt tags to make emails easier to find and connect your brand messages together in the inbox. This works especially well if you have a brand name that is leveraged in content by using a unique brand element in the alt tag (ex: brand mascots). Itโ€™s great from a user experience point of view as well as from an accessibility experience, which you should already be setting in your builds.

What is your advice for new marketers that are looking to get into email design and development?

Do not be afraid to ask questions. Be open to continually learning. Connect with others in the space. One of the easier ways to achieve all three is connecting in-person and virtually at meetup, events, webinars, emailgeeks slack channel, and twitter (this is where I started). The community is one of my favorite things about doing what I do; the welcoming nature and sharing of knowledge whether itโ€™s asking advice or bouncing a code fix off someone. I have found that there are so many people in the space up for geeking out over whatever topic, challenge, or ESP you work in throughout email marketing.


Whatโ€™s in your Email Toolbox?

Hardware:

  • MacBook Pro
  • Two large external monitors (right now I am rocking an old-school mac thunderbolt monitor and a newer Apple display)
  • Keychron keyboard & Apple Mouse
  • External Mic
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Autonomous Ergo Pro Chair
  • Good lighting (monitor light, selfie light for a little more brightness during Zoom calls, desk light when I want to work in a cave)
  • Office TV (I cast webinars but also put on videos, shows or movies to give myself a mental break when I need one)

โ€œShaniโ€™s

Software:

  • Litmus
  • Code Editor, I am still using Dreamweaver (love the live preview stillโ€ฆ)
  • Figma
  • Github (honestly anywhere that you can create a code repository is awesome – I have used dropbox in the past)
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Slack
  • Mac Outlook
  • Chrome
  • ESP
  • Music, Audio Books, or Podcasts (Spotify/Audible/Apple Music)

What are your favorite email design and coding resources?

  • Ampscript.guideย site (endless resource for SFMC dynamic and personalization coding)
  • A SQL query resource book
  • Emailgeeks slack channel, great to ask questions especially when its specific to your ESP or code issues and youโ€™re a solo act.
  • Email Blogs, great to keep updated on trends and common code issues (EX: Litmus blog, Email on Acid, Campaign Monitor, Mail Chimp)
  • Email Markup Consortium
  • Google for troubleshooting, state your problem and if specific something to do with your ESP tack on your ESP at the end. (EX: Gmail IMAP left justifying contentย orย Data loop only producing one row+SFMC)

How do you stay creative and where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in so many places, both within and outside of the email space. Within the space, I really enjoy subscribing to other companyโ€™s emails – both ones that align with what I do but also the ones that do not strictly connect with the type of content I am working with. I find that you never know when something will inspire a new idea or approach. I also love scrolling through Really Good Emails to see what others are submitting but itโ€™s also helpful when I really what to focus on a specific type of message.

I also love watching non-email/digital creative content on YouTube. I really enjoy the creative aspects and the creation process. I go from watching someone layout a watercolor project or create a custom journal to someone customizing their workspace or baking something. These are all a part of keeping my creative battery charged in order for me to tackle a new build, debug, or find a solution to a data issue.


How do you manage work-life balance?

That is a very much work in progress, but I am getting better at it. Personally, I have been making sure to adhere to a set schedule for work by defining my working hours and blocking off my work calendar for heads-down time. The other approach I have taken is making sure to schedule meetups with friends whether itโ€™s a simple coffee or a local adventure. I have also picked up some hobbies that are not screen-based; I have joined friends for some tabletop games and a D&D campaign (I love the guided story building and the creation of a character). Other than that, I fill my free time with reading a good book, crafting, sketching, and most Fridays I can be found at the movie theatre.

Much love,
Andy

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @emaillove

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