Making killer emails

What is the post about?
Using MJML for emails.

What things would help with writing the post

A few years ago I was working with someone on setting up an email series from ServiceNow to let folks know they are due to replace their computer. They were very concerned with how the email worked. That was how I came across MJML. MJML is an amazing framework to generate better supported HTML for all email clients. Email clients are still the wild west when it comes to controlling how an email works.

Okay, one thing my first amazing boss in tech told me was about writing emails. She said "Short and concise is what you want". She wasn't wrong. Emails subjects are the first or second things folks see. You need to make it clear and that email NEEDS to have an ACTIONABLE item.

You can choose to send non-actionable emails but if you're like me you just ignore those messages. At a high level here's the X things you need to do to make a great email.

  1. Get their attention with a concise subject.
  2. Make it clear what action you want them to take.
  3. Make it meaningful.
  4. Make it look nice!

Concise Subjects

Depending on the goal of the email (imagine cancel a meeting, schedule a meeting, ask a question, share a critical detail, get an approval).

If the readers have to click into the email you just wasted some time. Sometimes you need to say more but then you can do that in the body, but the reader should know what they are getting into.

Sometimes that email is a multifactor authentication email, that should contain the code in the subject. I don't want to click that email to get it.

Clear Call to Action

Coming back to what the goal is, your email should have ONE. An email is effectively a tool to just get someone to take some action. If you're not expecting an action, why are you sending the email?

Make it Meaningful

I'm interested in ServiceNow, RedwoodJS, Design and family stuff. If I get an email about lip balm, I aint opening that. If I get an email that doesn't provide some provide insight about one of those topics or doesn't apply to me. Think about hte "Incident has been updated" emails where it is just a link. That's silly. It might not even be actionable. It's a waste of time.

Make is Look Nice

There's three kinds of emails you want to send. Automated and hand-written, and automated hand-written.

Hand-written emails should be plaintext and be written by you to convey a point or ask something of the reader.

Automated emails should look nice, feel free to use images and HTML to make this look great.

Automated hand-written should be sent automatically but should be plaintext and replies should be handled by a person.