Email Peeps 30: Ted Goas
What attracted you to email marketing, and how did you get to where you are today?
Like many others, I fell into email design and development by chance. I started my career working on the web. One day in 2007 while working at a web agency in Phoenix, an email project came up. No one else volunteered, so I raised my hand. That project started my years-long journey of learning all the ins and outs of designing and coding HTML emails, and how it differs from websites. The next job I had was building emails for Toys R Us during the December holiday season. It was pretty intense, but I learned a ton.
Circa 2013, I collected some of the patterns I’d been using and open-sourced them under a project called Cerberus. I didn’t market it, but Smashing Magazine featured it which helped get the word out. Today it has almost 5K stars on Github and decent brand recognition. I regularly hear from folks who’ve used it in their own work, which always makes me smile.
I’ve never had a job where I specialized in email, but knowing email has helped me get jobs as a product designer since many times no one else on the team knows how to work with email. This was the case at Stack Overflow, where among other things I built one of the first email design systems.
I don’t know if I have another design system in me, but I stay fresh by coding my newsletter and lurking in Email Geeks Slack.
What’s your favorite email design or coding hack?
I feel like all my favorite hacks are disappearing as newer email clients become more capable and older ones die off. I remember when my CSS reset was as large as the email itself! It feels great to not have to commit so many code crimes just to get a basic email to display properly!
My go-to hack is probably knowing the sort of things that aren’t supported in email and working around them. All that built up knowledge has given me a pretty good spidey sense at detecting something questionable in an email’s design or knowing when a piece of code will fail. I reference Can I Email quite a bit to check my assumptions.
By the time I get to a tool like Litmus or Email on Acid, most of my QA is already done.
What have you learned from starting your own newsletter?
I’m only a year in, but have learned two lessons so far:
- Marketing is hard! I started my newsletter so I’d write more regularly, keep my email skills sharp, and learn more about climate tech. I figured that if I wrote regularly, people would magically find my newsletter. Well, not true! I’ve learned that “if you build it, they will NOT necessarily come.” I’m not naturally drawn to marketing and PR, so I’ve struggled quite a bit in my journey so far.
- Establishing a schedule is key. We all have excuses why NOT to do something. “I have a full time job, a family, a house, hobbies…” I figured I’d only follow through on a newsletter if I kept a regular schedule. It took me a few months to figure out a cadence I could commit to, but once I did, I haven’t missed a single issue.
You can sign up and read past issues here. I send it twice a month. See, even that was really hard and awkward for me to write 😭
What’s in your email marketing toolbox?
Hardware: My WFH Setup
- Jarvis Fully and Steelcase Activ-Pro standing desks (yes, I have two!)
- Herman Miller Aeron chair
- 16” MacBook Pro
- 2 Apple Cinema Displays
- Logi upright mouse + wrist cushion
- Drop + EPOS PC38X gaming headset most of the time, Airpod Pros when I’m walking around
- Ethernet cable (so much faster than Wifi!)
I used to have an old SLR as my webcam, but Apple’s OS updates kept messing with it and I eventually gave up. I also have my personal iMac in the room, which is hooked up to a Bose sound system for music.
- Google Office
- Parcel / VS Code
- Email on Acid
- Email Octopus / Beehiv
How can marketers make their emails more sustainable?
- Send less emails: Everything we send, store, and download costs energy. Let’s not do that more than we have to.
- Optimize static assets: Limit images, fonts, and scripts, reduce HTTP requests, use a CDN. The emails we do send should take up as little energy as possible.
- Use Ai sparingly: Use it for some tasks, but not all. Using Ai costs boatloads of energy!
- Go dark mode: Darker colors take less energy to light up on a screen, leading to increased battery life.
- Use a green ESP and CDN: These services use a lot of energy, so let’s make sure it’s renewable energy.
- Measure: Use a tool to quantify each email’s carbon footprint and optimize it.
- Talk about it! For most of us, the climate is not a central part of our job, so it’s easy to forget about the environmental impact of our work. Making sustainability part of regular conversations makes it harder to ignore.
Whose email newsletters do you consistently make time to read?
I subscribe to 30-40 newsletters and honestly I read them all, every time. If I notice that I’m not reading one, I unsubscribe from it.
I’ll highlight Dense Discovery since it’s a wonderful mix of design, art, reading recommendations, climate news, and tools. I’ve been following Kai since the first issue of Offscreen Magazine. I almost always find something to read, dig into, or buy from Dense Discovery.
How do you manage work-life balance?
Pretty well! Having a family helps me structure my days since my kids have a fairly consistent routine.
I work remotely and my employer trusts me to get my work done, so I take lots of little breaks throughout the workday to do things like school drop offs, exercise, and the occasional doctor appointment. But between 7:30a and 5p, I’m mostly working.
Around 5 or 6, I leave work and am done for the day. I might check messages on my phone after dinner, but I rarely do anything meaningful work-wise. I shut down my work laptop on the weekends. Evenings and weekends are family time and work rarely cuts into that.
This routine ensures I have enough energy and headspace for the next day. Besides, when I’m away from the screen and can let my mind wander, that’s when I do my best thinking.