Crafting the Perfect Email

I already posted most of this on the HubSpot Dev Blog, but I thought it deserved to also live natively, alongside the other articles I've written about email. Enjoy!

Designing My First Email

From the perspective of a developer, the HubSpot marketing team spends an insane amount of time each each month building PowerPoint presentations for each other. That's partly because at HubSpot, every decision needs to be supported by data, and every month there's a big meeting to show the results of those choices. It's a great way to do marketing, but it's also very time consuming. With this first email, I sought to make HubSpot's approach to marketing available to everyone in a simple and automated way. The original design for this email was something I first conceived while at Performable. I wanted a short, daily summary that could be quickly scanned and understood. To do that, I leveraged three design patterns:
  1. Emphasize the big picture.
  2. Use color coding to tell the story quickly.
  3. Create a strong visual heirarchy to communicate importance.

Here's the most recent version:

Monthly Marketing Summary

The feedback on the email has so far been very positive. Our first release of the email even satisfied our dream scenario: one of our customers wrote us a glowing review, saying how the PowerPoint saved his skin when he had to rush to a meeting he was unprepared for. We've kept the pressure on by releasing two other emails: the Daily Prospects Digest and the Weekly Progress Report (below). We approached both of these emails with the same vision that drove the monthly email, and they've turned out to be big hits with our customers.

Daily Prospects Digest
Weekly Progress Report

What We've Learned

Know your metrics. We went into this with very clear goals, and we used those metrics to drive our design decisions very strictly. While this sounds limiting, it was actually very helpful. Test before you send. There are a lot of quirks in email design, so it's important to test for them as best as you can. Between the three emails, we easily looked at a couple thousand screenshots of our emails in different email clients throughout the entire design process. Reuse what you've learned. To maintain the quality of future emails, we've created a basic framework and done as much as we can to set the principles for HubSpot emails. When you see an email notificaion, summary, etc. from HubSpot, you can expect to see a very similar interface and the same design patterns at work. If you have any feedback about the emails (don't worry, you won't hurt our feelings :]), please share it in the comments below!