I’d like to introduce a new series here on the blog, Your email, redesigned. Your transactional mail is a key in building and cultivating your relationship with your customers, and yet most companies don’t even know what their welcome emails say. So, here I will redesign (well, I’ll work with our designers) an email for one of our customers once a month in a way to better communicate their brand, message and any vital information they provide.
Believe it or not, our own emails are far from ideal. Yes, we do spend time on them, and no, they weren’t written by our wonderful developers, but they still leave much to be imagined. So first up for me was the obvious choice, our very very very important welcome email to our Beanstalk customers. I worked with our email designer ninja Eugene to get this done. He’s our expert email designer, having designed all of our Newsberry templates and some product newsletters.
We originally had a single welcome email to all of our customers. It was text-only, which is actually what most of our transactional emails currently are. Now, there were some great parts about it. It contained all the pertinent account information, it was spelled correctly (you would be shocked how many transactional emails I’ve seen that weren’t), and it contained our contact info. Below, you can see what was before.
The cool thing about welcome emails is that they can be HTML (yay for pretty graphics). And with HTML means we can also use more of the space to visually show important information, keeping in mind people keep their welcome emails for quick reference in the future. I spent a while reviewing various welcome emails of apps I had signed up for in the past. Two that I loved visually were Wufoo and Mint, while the content of 37signals welcome email brought a lot of inspiration.
The first thing we did was create two separate welcome emails, one for free/trial accounts and one for paid signups. See, these are two totally separate customers, and therefore require their own information. Both emails needed to convey the vibe of our company. We’re professional, but fun and casual at the same time. It’s super critical that your welcome email provide the same energy as your app. How surprised would people be if they got a corporate-sounding email from Wufoo?
The paid accounts required a simple email. We just want to say hello, provide account access information, and give customers a quick reference for how to get help if they need. Combine that with a beautiful, clean designed email and we get this:
The welcome for the trial account was a bit more complex, as we wanted to use this opportunity to highlight the benefits of upgrading, while still providing relevant information (account access, help, etc). It was important for me to use some of the real estate in this email to explain the reasons for upgrading and what customers are missing on the trial accounts. If there is only one email these customers will read, it will probably be our welcome email. Here’s what we ended up with:
Testing: The most difficult part about redesigning #
When you have an internal team of designers like we do, this process is fun and exciting. But even for them, the hardest and most uninteresting part of the process was testing the final results with all email clients. For those who don’t know, email clients such as Gmail, Hotmail and Mail will render your HTML differently. So, to make sure your pretty design doesn’t go to waste, you need to test, and test, and test, and test (you get the point). Apart from mail clients we installed on our own machines, we also use Litmus to run the tests for us. This way, we don’t have to use up precious QA time. We’re so excited that between Litmus and Eugene’s amazing determination, our background shows up on Gmail! (I have made Eugene promise to write a post about how he worked his magic).
Subject and from name #
We’ve talked a lot about email being an interface, so I think it is important to note what we will use for the From Name and Subject as well. Since this is a welcome email, it is pretty basic. The From name will be left as “Beanstalk (email@example.com)” and the Subject will be “Welcome to Beanstalk” for both emails. Since the initial content in the email is “Hi Name, Welcome to Beanstalk!” we can be sure the preheader will look nice as well.
This new design will be launched very soon on Beanstalk. Let us know what you think about the redesign, if you have any suggestions, or ideas I’m excited to hear them!
This post was originally published Jul 16, 2010