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April 1, 2023 - Articles

Email Peeps #9: Jay Oram


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

As most others, I didn’t set out to be an email developer! I went to University to study Outdoor Leadership and spent my early working years guiding canoe and kayaking trips, traveling the world. Until one winter I was broke and cold and a friend who had a small start up selling outdoor clothing online offered me a job packing the boxes and sending out parcels – at this time Facebook, Twitter and general digital marketing was just starting to be a thing, but wasn’t taken too seriously, so they let me take charge of it all!

I spent the following years working my way up in a growing company to be the ‘Head of Digital Marketing’ during which was the first time I created and sent a marketing email. Then after ten years or so, I had moved to a few companies managing digital marketing, websites and all round marketing, plus events and much more. The different places I worked ranged from multinational companies, to a historical bookshop, an online magazine, school software and more outdoor gear.

The last few years creating emails in these jobs I got annoyed at the capabilities of what the drag and drop editor could do and started seeing much cooler emails in my inbox – so from a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS I just jumped head first into amending the code to get what I wanted.

I loved the code so much I decided I wanted out of marketing and to code as much as possible. I joined the emailgeeks slack group and saw a message from Elliot Ross, who owned Taxi for Email and ActionRocket. He put a message out saying they were looking for people to join and I just dropped him a DM. Originally I was asked into the office to chat about two possible job roles, managing marketing at Taxi for Email (as my CV was probably more suited to that) and also as a coder to join the ActionRocket team. In the end I joined as a junior coder and ended up in an awesome team!

From there I just continued to learn more and more about email marketing and development. Getting Salesforce certified, working in 20+ ESPs and covering a whole range of businesses from the BBC, Pokemon and Eurostar to smaller companies developing their code.

‍How did you get into interactive email coding? ‍

At ActionRocket I got to work with an awesome team, the designers were pushing what was possible, my managers were giving me space to experiment with code, and we had clients that wanted to try out new things. All of these added up to allow me time to explore what was possible, but what really helped was the awesome email geeks slack group. With other email developers like Mark Robbins, Justin Khoo and Aaron Simmonds, who actually worked at ActionRocket for a short time and shared a lot of knowledge.

I started off small with hover effects, then moved on to checkbox coding and then learned how images were requested, external stylesheets, forms, more advanced CSS and just tried things out. ActionRocket has a newsletter called EmailWeekly we send each Friday and it is the perfect place for experimenting, it only goes to EmailPeeps and we openly state it is in constant beta, so things will be broken – but that’s okay! This is where a lot of random interactive techniques get polished enough to be used for clients.

‍What is your favorite email coding hack?‍

You know what I love – specifically targeting an email client and seeing it work. A little known one is using:

@supports(–css: variables) { … }

This allows you to target only the email clients that support CSS variables or custom properties as they are sometimes called. Handy for complex interactive builds!

‍What is your advice for email peeps that are looking to get into interactive email code?‍
Just code something and see if it works. You can start small, by adding hover effects to your link, maybe adding an underline when it is hovered:

a:hover { text-decoration: underline !important; }

Then checkout the Fresh inbox, Email on Acid and Litmus blogs on email interactivity. They have so many smaller tutorials that you can use to increase your code knowledge and you can then combine these to come up with any crazy combination.

What’s in your Email Toolbox?


  • MacBook Air M1, 2020
  • Acer H277HU 27 inch HD Monitor
  • Apple Magic mouse and keyboard
  • Skullcandy Hesh® ANC Noise Canceling Wireless Headphones / Apple wired EarPods
  • Timeflip time tracker
  • Paper notebook and mechanical pencil – I use this a lot!

Testing devices – I test a lot of emails on live devices and they live on my desk:

  • Apple iPhone SE
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
  • Google Pixel 4a
  • Lenovo Thinkpad laptop
  • (Plus some other older phones and iPads!)


  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Figma
  • Google suite of tools
  • VS Code – if not working on emails!

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

It is all down to the ActionRocket team and other email geeks, they are constantly sharing new things, new ideas and content I may not have looked at.

I also have a bad habit of just signing up for all the emails, then my phone habit is flicking through my inbox, normally the promotions tab and seeing if something inspires me. A lot of the newsletters I sign up to are for web developers, CSS specialists or UX and they have the coolest stuff!

How do you manage work-life balance?‍

ActionRocket is super strict about finishing at 5pm – so I never work late on agency work and the team schedules my tasks and gives them priority so everything gets the time it deserves.

But I spend too much time on emailgeeks slack looking at the #email-code channel, checking twitter for email news, working on side projects, like the Email Markup Consortium and a new site I’m launching soon, LessonsInEmail. Plus also working on slides for upcoming talks and conferences or mentoring email developers.

I also have a wife and 1 year old daughter I love spending time with, plus I volunteer to teach circus skills, canoeing and code to local youth groups, so I have a busy schedule!

Much love,

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @emaillove


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