Terrific Tools

Stephanie Griffith on creating Email Preview and why Email Marketing rocks.

  Patrick Sande     Jan 14, 2021    

@Stephakiwi

Hey, Stephanie.  Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us. To kick things off, would you share a bit about who you are and what you're currently up to?

Hey Patrick! Absolutely, I’m pumped to be chatting with you. I’m a born and raised New Yorker, although I think living in Ohio for 6 years really softened me, ha! Currently, I’m based in Denver, and when I’m not doing email things you can find me in the mountains. It’s been a total blessing to live in such a beautiful place during These Times™. I’m very grateful.

I’m an #emailgeek by day, and recently started freelancing full-time after 8 years working for three major retailers, an agency, and two startups. It’s exciting to finally call the shots and choose who I work with - it’s very freeing.

As you know, I also launched a fun little side project this year, emailpreview.io, and I’m excited to dedicate more time to that as we head into 2021. We've got big updates underway!

That's awesome! I want to circle back to Email Preview in just a bit. Can you tell us a bit more about how you found your way into email marketing?

Does anyone really “find their way into email marketing?” I love this question because I think it is the glue that holds the email community together. My short response is that I didn’t really choose email initially, but I did make the conscious choice to stay with it.

Now for the longer response: I had been working on the print side of things for Abercrombie & Fitch, and quickly realized I wanted to make the switch to digital marketing. I liked to ask tons of questions and wanted the instant gratification of knowing the answers. I made the switch by joining Bath & Body Works as an Email Marketing Coordinator and I guess that’s where I should say “the rest was history!” I was spoiled in the sense that their program was really sophisticated, so I got to learn the ins and outs of email very quickly, and realized how powerful the channel was. As for the instant gratification - sending emails to 20+ million subscribers definitely gave me what I was looking for!

And what keeps you excited about the email marketing space today?

Oh man, it all comes back to the people and the community. There is no other digital channel that requires the same amount of grit and determination, and I think that’s why there is such a camaraderie.  I am so fortunate to have found Women of Email pretty early on in my career, in addition to the Email Geeks slack community. I wouldn’t be where I am without the constant knowledge sharing and inspiration I get from these groups.

Additionally, I think email is at its best when it is being used to provide value and build lasting relationships. Much like we have built relationships within the email community itself, I am excited and inspired by the ways this translates to our subscribers and customers. Email is absolutely the most powerful channel when this rule is followed.

Love it! And, I couldn't agree more about how amazing the email marketing community is.  With that, let me shift gears and talk more about emailpreview.io.  Could you share a bit about what emailpreview.io does and how it came to be?

Of course! emailpreview.io was born after many years of wondering “why is saving an email so hard?”. During my first official email position, one of my responsibilities was to print out all of our emails, save them in a filing cabinet, and then painstakingly hang them on a wall in a conference room for the leadership team to review each quarter. We’re talking 100+ emails, saved as PDF and sized to print on tabloid paper. It was a pain in the ass to say the least! And all these years later, it really hasn’t gotten that much easier.

So, I decided to solve the problem myself. I outlined a very simple process of taking an EML or HTML file, parsing it, and outputting it as a downloadable image. Thankfully my partner is a talented software engineer and we had a working solution in just a few days. After a few tweaks, we launched the beta that you see today in about two weeks. The core functionality allows users to drag and drop an EML file, paste in HTML, or a View in Browser URL, and quickly generate an image of the email they want to save. No browser extension needed!

It's a really great tool, Stephanie.  Kudos on all the great work with it!  Any plans for where you'd like to take the tool next?

Thank you! It started out as a simple idea to solve a very specific problem, but the response was overwhelming so we quickly realized there is a great opportunity to expand the functionality. We ultimately want to provide the easiest solution to archive emails at scale.

What we’re currently working on is migrating the technical infrastructure so it is scalable long term. Most recently we added minor enhancements, including limited web font support to resolve some character encoding issues and larger HTML file support for longer emails (looking at you, Costco!).

In terms of what’s next: we’ll be launching paid user accounts to grant access to additional features like storage and batch uploads, in addition to a dev portal for those that want to leverage the API. I’d love to directly integrate with ESP’s, so that’s certainly on the table!

So cool.  While we're talking about it, any advice for people out there who have an idea and are looking to bring it to life?

Just build the damn thing. The worst that happens is you get cool feedback to make it better, or learn some new things in the process. If you are trying to solve a major pain point, it is likely that many others are suffering from the same thing as well. So I’d definitely say to go for it!

Love that, Stephanie!  Well, it's been so fun to chat with you.  Before I let you go, would you share just a bit about what you hope to see happen with email in 2021 (trends, practices that need to stop, opportunities)?

Likewise, Patrick! This has been a blast. While I’m on the record, I’d like to shout it from the virtual rooftops that EMAIL’S NOT DEAD. How many “A message from our CEO” emails does it take before folks give that a rest? I think 2020 finally proved email is the most effective and reliable marketing channel, and 2021 is our chance to capitalize on that momentum.

Email volumes are higher than ever, but I think many brands are learning that what has worked in the past may not resonate moving forward, and we need to remember that there are humans on both sides of the email experience. As senders, we should be looking for ways to build relationships and delight our recipients so they are continuously excited to hear from us. Spoiler alert: if you're still calling it an "email blast", you're doing it wrong.

2020 showed us the best and worst of email marketing, but I'm optimistic that the more positive trends will stick around. And if you haven’t already, go ahead and throw out your email playbooks. 2021 is a whole new playing field.

I'll give that an AMEN!

Want to hear more from Stephanie? Follow her on Twitter where she tweets about all things email, SMS, and eCommerce marketing strategy.