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March 11, 2024 - Articles

Email Peeps 38: Rebecca Lewis


What attracted you to email marketing, and how did you get to where you are today?

My background is in graphic design, and my career began mainly designing for print, but I eventually landed a job designing for e-commerce and email. In total honesty, when I started designing emails, I had no idea what I was doing. I was not aware of email design best practices, and my email designs were all images. I was a print designer and I was applying that knowledge to emails.

I was hired to design and code emails for Girl Scouts of the USA. After a while, they hired a Director of Email Marketing, who very kindly met with me and said, “I don’t think you’re a bad designer, you just don’t know how to design for email.” She taught me so much about email marketing and email design best practices, and before I knew it, I was designing and coding responsive emails with a mix of live text and images optimized for mobile. These emails had much higher conversion rates.

One thing I love about email is that you’re able to justify design decisions with data. We were invited to bring our story to Litmus Live in 2016 and presented on how to strike the balance of form vs function in email.  After that experience and learning how to really design and code emails properly, I was officially an email nerd for life. 

More recently, I’ve worked as a design manager overseeing a team of designers in the marketing department of an Ad Tech company. I still had the opportunity to do email marketing there, and was the go-to person in my department for all things email. I learned a lot about SEO, and blogger’s frustrations with google. This reminded me of email marketers’ similar frustrations with email rendering in gmail.

Eventually, I left my role working as a design manager, and took some time off to reassess my professional goals. I decided to go back to my love of email and start my own email marketing agency with former colleagues and email marketing experts who I was fortunate enough to meet over the years working at various different companies. My goal with starting my own agency was to help small to midsize businesses maximize their email marketing strategy and design through data insights and testing. We also handle email marketing setup, deliverability issues, data cleanup, and ESP vendor evaluation & migration. That is how The Email Co was born and how email marketing got me where I am today.

What’s your favorite email hack?

This hack has been out for a couple of years, but I like Nicole Merlin’s Future-Proof Responsive Email Without Media Queries for a couple of reasons: it is always better to have less code in your email, and because… well, it’s ok if it is dated, because it’s future proof! It is a super solid template to use because it doesn’t rely on media queries but max-width in the HTML to adapt to different screen sizes. 

What are your favorite email design trends?

I love to see retail brands or even brands in the fashion and beauty industry use a mix of live text and images in their email designs instead of just relying on image-based emails. I get it, I used to be a designer who made those kinds of emails, and I hate Arial, and I love beautiful typefaces that will not render in most email clients. But I think that is part of the design challenge- can you code and design an email that looks good and is also accessible? It is still very, very common to see many retail brands have all-image emails and large areas of text that are images. When I see brands like this adapting to accessibility standards, I think that is great. It is not only the morally right thing to do (besides being ADA compliant and avoiding potential legal issues) but it is better for your business if your email is accessible to more people. 

What’s in your email marketing toolbox?


  • 14-inch Macbook Pro
  • 24-inch LG Monitor
  • Wacom pen tablet
  • 2 Stanley mugs, one for coffee, one for water (I didn’t know it was a trend!)


  • Adobe Creative Cloud – Photoshop, Illustrator, even Dreamweaver sometimes
  • Coordinate for project management software 
Rebecca Lewis Desk

What’s your favorite email campaign of all time? Why?

Cat Person’s welcome email series stood out to me when I signed up. I recall they really got my attention with their subject line. “So we hear you’re a Cat Person…” I am a sucker for that line and how they fit the name of their company into a sentence. I think their use of illustration, photography, and typography in this email campaign works very well together and establishes a really clear brand identity from the beginning. The content of the campaign is especially catered to your cat, and what kind of foods they may like, so you are able to get the perfect meal kit. They are also a brand that does a great job of mixing images and live text appropriately in this campaign. 

What are some simple ways that brands can improve their email designs?

I will always say A/B test everything because what might work for one brand or what is considered a “Best practice” for one brand might not work for another. I was once at an email conference where, during a session, the speaker said that it was no longer a best practice to have a navigation on a desktop at the top of your emails. It didn’t look clean, and since so many people are on mobile anyway, where the nav usually stacks at the bottom, you should simplify the design with just a logo and the bare minimum of information. After the conference, I A/B tested Nav vs No Nav repeatedly and over the course of a period of time times for the company I worked for. The version with the navigation consistently had higher conversions for reasons specific to that brand. 

Another thing I would recommend is creating an email-specific style guide based on your company’s brand rather than using your brand’s web guidelines or general brand guidelines and applying that to email. This will ensure brand consistency across email campaigns, and it is an opportunity to take your brand colors and solve for dark mode issues. I think creating a style guide and identifying what colors work in dark mode and light mode, as well as creating a library of reusable components that work in both modes, is incredibly useful and time-saving. 

How do you manage work-life balance?

This can be hard when running your own small business. In order to manage work-life balance since I am self employed, I set a schedule for myself daily and impose my own working hours with breaks. If not, I can easily fall into all-day work mode and forget to get outside or take lunch. 

Much love,

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @emaillove


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