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June 4, 2024 - Articles

Email Peeps 43: Roland Pokornyik


Tell us how you got into email and what made you start your own SaaS business in the email space.

I first had to deal with email marketing in 2008 when I worked as an online marketing expert at a large multi-national insurance company in Hungary. We used Interspire Email Marketer back then and I had to mess around in the email HTML code and fight rendering issues all the time.

I already wanted to be an entrepreneur, boss, business owner at the age of 16, but I wasn’t brave and didn’t have enough funding to start my very own business right after university, so for a few years I decided that being an employee is a good approach to build some wealth and learn while doing. First I worked for this multi-national company, then I worked for 50-100 people software company and moved over to a smaller 15-20 people marketing agency, and learned a lot about company operations along the way. 

Luckily my long-time best friend Gyula (Co-founder, CTO of our SaaS company) became a software developer and thanks to my online marketing & agile product management background we formed a great pair. We established a company and started experimenting with a few product ideas, until I had an idea for an email design tool in 2012 while I was sitting on a train and checking my ugly emails, and the rest is history 🙂 

Based on your experience, what are some common areas where B2C brands could improve their email templates?

Thankfully email designs and the email code quality improved a lot in the past 10 years and as a result I rarely see emails that would not be optimized for mobiles. Dark mode is the new evil for email developers and design teams, and it causes headaches for all from time to time, especially since there’s no quick way to optimize for dark mode. That’s one particular area where many brands could improve their emails, on the other hand I think they don’t need to sweat too much about perfection in this case. Most people who use dark mode are happy already if an email is readable and images are enjoyable. For them it doesn’t matter that much if colors or fonts are slightly different from the brand guidelines 🙂 

An even more important area for improvement would be hyper personalization & segmentation. Based on my conversations with customers and leads I have the impression that still many email marketers have no clue about dynamic content, images, conditionals, or loops. These are still too advanced for the regular marketer, and as such smaller companies still rely on blast campaigns only. Most of them use a marketing automation platform that would be capable of dynamic content, but it seems these software companies do not provide enough educational content about their most killer feature set, that would eventually boost customers revenues. 

How do you see AI changing AI design and development in the next 5 years?

That’s a very exciting question and a topic I could talk about a loooot 🙂 I love thinking about the future in general. I believe in 5 years AI might already take over most daily tasks from designers and marketers, and many who are just starting their career will find it extremely hard to find a job, since beginner level skills won’t be valued at all. 

We’ll end up in a future where we all will have our little “AI minions” working for us, and we’ll need to learn how to instruct and manage them properly to make sure every work is done in a high-quality manner. AI will do the job, no matter what that is, and we’ll be the Q&A managers and creative directors. 

What’s in your email marketing toolbox?


  • M1 Macbook Air w. 16 GB
  • Samsung C34H890WGR – 34 inch monitor
  • Simple JBL TUNE 110 wired headphones (have 3-4 in the drawer for replacement, since they die every year or so) that still outperform the microphone quality of expensive bluetooth headsets
  • I do use in-ear bluetooth headphones for running though either Status Audio Between Pro or Raycon Fitness Earbuds


  • for email building
  • Intercom, Mailchimp, Close
  • Canva, AI tools, Gimp

So many brands continue to send image-only emails. Is it such a bad thing? What are the downsides?

I personally hate image only emails, but they are still out there unfortunately, most likely because it’s just so much easier to export image slices from a design tool than to build an HTML email properly. 

Some brands are way too picky about their precious custom fonts that wouldn’t render properly or text overlays that can’t be built either in emails, so they decide to stick with image only messages to make their lives “easier”. 

This seems like a good quick solution, and it is, if you can make the emails still enjoyable fon mobile devices. 

Otherwise image only emails are very limiting and won’t allow you to take advantage of dynamic content, segmentation and personalization. There are still some brands who think they can afford living without these, but it doesn’t mean they are right. They simply think that on-brand design matters more than the relevancy of their emails, and as a result they leave a lot of money on the table. 

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

I can’t think of a single email campaign that I would especially like, but I have a brands that I like mostly because they send nice and engaging emails. My favorites are: Grammarly, Strava, Google, Apple, Disney, National Geographic, Hubspot, Litmus. 

Maybe it was Litmus that sent the most memorable campaigns a few years ago, when they were still owned by the original founders. Those were creative, inspiring, exciting and always showed something new to the community. They played a very important role in educating the whole email marketing industry. 

Do you have any productivity hacks?

My biggest productivity hack is doing sports almost every day. I was tired of sitting at my desk and being overweight and decided to join a triathlon team and start training at the very beginning of 2022. I haven’t stopped since and I don’t look back. I work with a coach and have a 4 week training cycle and typically train 27 days from the total 28. Yes, there’s always a rest day, when I feel bad about not doing anything. 😀 

I tend to combine sports with intermittent fasting (18/6, I only eat between 12:00 – 18:00) during weekdays, especially off-season (November – April). It helps me concentrate more on getting things done and worry less about eating during the day. It also balances my weight when I train less, and keeps my digestion and guts healthy. I tried many different diets before, but fasting works best since I can eat whatever I want when I do eat. 

If you have a healthy body and healthy balance in your life, you can do so much more work in a very short amount of time and still enjoy being yourself. This lifestyle requires you to be your own boss (either as the owner of a business or a freelancer) or to work for a company in a very-flexible full or semi-remote setup and a supportive family background that won’t hate you for investing 10+ hours into your personal well-being every week. 

Much love,

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @emaillove


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