AI Email Render-ation Sensation: How rasa.io Makes Emails Look Great - Part II

AI email render-ation sensation, part II

Email can be tricky. The emails you create that look fabulous in your email generation software might not always translate when they are actually delivered. Why is that? The answer is that there are countless email platforms and countless devices, and between those two factors, the combinations are endless.

In the first part of our series we explored coding superior email designs that will render properly, and look good, across all email clients and devices. In this part of our series we will explore how we treat images and then conclude with a very important part of email design: testing.

Images in rasa.io emails - Imgix

Careful consideration of email image treatment is another important part of making our emails look great here at rasa.io. One of the tools we use is an image processing service called Imgix, which helps us format and crop images inside of our newsbriefs.  

As we gather news articles for our newsbriefs, we are storing the images in an Amazon S3 bucket (cloud storage) and then giving Imgix access to that bucket. We can than enhance and crop our image by passing query parameters (filters for image processing) to the end of our images hosted URL.  

In the example below, we have the original image on the left and two examples of cropping using query parameters. Imgix gives us the ability to recognize faces in an image and that is denoted by the “fit=face” query param.

However, as you can also see in the example below, it does not work perfectly all of the time. A setting we later discovered was Imgix’s entropy setting. The idea here is that the most “interesting” part of an image will be the areas of high contrast. By setting “crop=entropy” we can now crop to the most “significant” part of an image. Imgix is a great tool that we use in every newsbrief.

email rendering using imgix for image cropping at rasa.io

Figure 2: Imgix image cropping examples

 

Testing rasa.io email design - Email On Acid

Another great tool we use is Email On Acid (EOA). We use EOA to test the responsive layout and look of our emails across multiple email clients. EOA gives us the ability to quickly view what our email will look like on over 80 email clients.

Viewing our designs over multiple email clients is important because, as I mentioned earlier, the top 3 email clients which are iPad, iPhone, and Gmail are included in EOA’s test summary (Figure 3). Also, there are several versions of Outlook that are included in EOA’s test summary.  Outlook can be troublesome when trying to get an email layout rendering properly. By utilizing EOA’s email client test summary we can ensure that our clients will receive a great looking newsbrief.

Figure 3: Email on Acid Test Summary

 

Summing up our email rendering series

In summary, in part one of our series, we briefly discussed how we build responsive email designs by using a combination of inky and jinja templating languages. We also mentioned some of the techniques we use for image cropping to the most “significant part” of an image. Lastly, we covered the comprehensive test summary offered by Email on Acid.

Why is this important? At rasa.io our core purpose is to better inform the world. One way of informing the world is through our daily newsbrief. The reason we exist is to help people engage with relevant information more frequently. That’s why.

Are you ready to take your association emailing to the next level and leverage artificial intelligence to generate content that your users want to read? Are you ready to give your brand a boost? Contact the experts at rasa.io today.


AI Email Render-ation Sensation: How rasa.io Makes Emails Look Great - Part I

AI email render-ation sensation

At rasa.io we send a lot of email newsbriefs; in fact we send millions of email newsbriefs per month. And an important part of what we do is to help associations, and other organizations, engage with their members more frequently via their AI-curated email newsletters. So, it is important to build and deliver emails that will look great on a user’s phone as well as their desktop.

This blog is the first of a two-part series that will explore: first, the importance around coding superior email designs that will render - which is a fancy word for display - properly and look good for all email clients - which is a fancy term for email systems. The second part part of the series will focus more specifically on image rendering and then conclude with a way to test your designs across multiple email clients.

How people consume their email content

Currently, mobile email clients represent about 54% of all email opens according to Litmus email analytics. iPhone, Gmail and iPad are among the top 3 email clients. Gmail’s 75% of their 900 million users access email via their mobile device. With this in mind, it is important to build an email template that will work across multiple email clients and devices. (For a less technical approach to optimizing your association newsletter, read our blog on 15 ways to give your association news a boost!)

Email template language

At rasa.io, we use several tools to help us build responsive and beautiful email designs. To start with, we use an email templating language called Inky.

Inky provides a responsive grid layout and several out of the box components, and it allows developers to write a small amount of code and that gets compiled to a much larger chunk of code. This is important because the larger chunk of code will help with compatibility across email clients.

For example, in the image below, the image on the left is the precompiled Inky and Jinja syntax, (we’ll come back to Jinja); and on the right is the same bit of code but compiled to its full HTML form. The reason for this is that some email clients do not support modern web html elements such as <div> tags. On the contrary, <table> tags are guaranteed to work across most email clients. From a developer’s perspective, maintaining the bit of code on the left is preferable to the one on the right.

rasa.io artificial intelligence email rendering code example

Inky / Jinja to compiled code example

The Inky grid

Inky’s grid layout gives us the ability to separate and carve out parts of the email. The grid is primarily composed of rows and column components. Rows define horizontal sections of the email and columns carve up the row into side-by-side sections. Inky uses a 12-column grid and column sizes can be controlled via sizing classes. Once again, these inky components will eventually get compiled to a much larger chunk of code and that is what goes out to the email client.

+ Jinja

Let us briefly go back to the image above. All the bits of code inside the curly brackets {} are Jinja. Jinja is a python templating language. It allows us to create variables, insert conditional logic and to iterate through lists such as a newsbrief.

In the example above, we have a basic for-loop that will iterate through each item in the recommendations list. Through each iteration we typically expose attributes such as a recommendations title, description, source, or image, if one is available for the given blog, article, news story, or journal publication. Several of our emails contain images and it is important that we show images that are nicely cropped and formatted.

An email render-ation sensation part II

Next week, in the second installment of this blog series, we will first discuss image rendering. We will then conclude with how to test your code and designs across multiple email clients.

Are you ready to take your association emailing to the next level and leverage artificial intelligence to generate content that your users want to read? Are you ready to give your brand a boost? Contact the experts at rasa.io today.


rasa.io ideas for avoiding 3 common email mistakes

3 Common Email Mistakes to Avoid

Email isn’t dead, but we should still work to improve it

To quote a recent post on email engagement from ASAE’s Associations Now:The good news is that email isn’t dead. Far from it, really.” According to a recent study done by Adobe, we check our email often, very often, (perhaps too often).

Almost 40% of survey respondents reported reading every single one of their work emails. However, even though people are highly engaged with their inboxes, emails are still leaving people wanting more. Most emails aren’t satisfying.

How do you ensure that your organization avoids the common email pitfalls that frustrate readers? Here are 3 ways that you can avoid common email engagement mistakes:

1 Focusing too much on promotion and not enough on information

According to the same Adobe study mentioned above, 39% say the emails they receive from outside organizations should focus more on information and less on promotion. This is consistent with the trend that, in this day in age, consumers do not want to feel like they are being marketed to.

How do you avoid this pitfall?

Ensure that the content you send via email offers nutritious information that makes reading the email’s content worthwhile to the consumer. If you can’t create enough of your own original, information-nutritious content  - because, let’s face it, original content creation can be tough and time consuming - you can include articles and blogs from outside, trusted sources. (Still finding it tough to devote the time to compiling a rich content-dense newsletter? Let us help you out with automating the process.)

2 Not optimizing your emails for mobile

According to a study by MarketingCharts, over 50% of consumers’ emails are opened on their mobile devices. It is hard to believe that many of us continue to make the mistake of not optimizing our email templates to ensure they are mobile-friendly.

How do you avoid this pitfall?

Ensure that email templates you choose are simple and sleek, so they can be easily consumed on all of the various email platforms. Include relevant and engaging imagery. Also, ensure your images are not too abundant and are reasonably sized. Even if you have a sleek email template that, in theory, displays well for mobile viewers, if you have too many images and/or they are too large to load quickly, you run the risk of distorting the entire look and feel of your template.

3 Sending one-size-fits-all emails

One size fits all = one size fits none. According to a report by Campaign Monitor, the vast majority of us understand the importance of personalized messaging, but far fewer of us are actually executing on that knowledge. Why aren’t we more actively segmenting our audiences and personalizing, particularly when it comes to newsletters? Because it takes time to learn about how to segment effectively and to implement that knowledge into our processes.

How do you avoid this pitfall?

You can realize the power or personalization without spending considerably more time putting together your emails. The power of artificial intelligence is here right now to not only personalize your email content, but also to automate that personalization. You now have the ability to leverage sophisticated tools to deliver people the content they want to read - a compilation of your internally published pieces along with authoritative external publications - on an individual basis.

Email personalization automation

You can easily modernize your organization when it comes to your email communications. Contact rasa.io today to learn how we can help you automate your newsletter process, all while personalizing your content for each individual member.


use rasa.io to send automated personalized relevant ai emails to your members

3 Reasons Why Email Isn’t Dead

3 Reasons Why Email Isn’t Dead

Nowadays we see new electronic communication outlets popping up at a more rapid pace than ever. With all of these different outlets for marketing and customer engagement, people are quick to say that the email is dead. Here’s why they are wrong:

1 - The research is there.

Even with hundreds of new ways to get your message out, research shows that email is still highly effective when the content is relevant to the reader. According to a Hubspot study, 70% of consumers report reading all or most of their emails. So, how can you make sure your content is relevant?

At rasa.io, we are dedicated to delivering perfectly curated, personalized news to each individual receiving your emails. Infusing your organization’s promotional and educational content with industry news that is specifically customized to each reader will result in higher open and click rates and thus a better chance of your organization’s messaging getting seen. Just take a look at our case studies.

2 - It’s all about evolution.

Industries are constantly evolving as new technology becomes available. We’ve seen companies who were once industry giants become extinct because they failed to evolve their customer experiences.  

For example, retail stores are closing all over the country and constantly receiving bad press for these failures. At the same time, Direct to Consumer brands like Warby Parker and Bonobos are opening more and more brick and mortar stores. Neil Blumenthal, the co-founder of Warby Parker explains, "I don't think retail is dead. Mediocre retail experiences are dead."

The same goes for email marketing - email isn't dead, mediocre email is dead. If you are sending out the same stale emails, your members will disengage.

We use our cutting-edge artificial intelligence tool to learn each users’ interests, behaviors, and preferences so that you can evolve and maximize the quality of their member experience. Our reporting gives our partners access to these insights so that they can use them to increase member loyalty.

3 - A new, automated normal does exist.

We didn’t invent email newsbriefs, we’ve made them better. Another way we’ve done that is through automation. Not only do we personalize the content within each member email, our automation provides a way for your organization to constantly update, evolve, and improve your member communications without the disruption of manually sending out emails.

Put the ‘ai’ in your email.

Contact rasa.io today to request a quote and learn about how we can help you use AI to stay relevant and maximize your member experience.


John Spence using AI to automate and personalize email newsletters

John Spence Case Study: Making Email News... Awesomely Simple

John Spence: World-renowned business speaker, thought-leader, and consultant

While the majority of our clients are associations, today we are excited to post about the success of one of our business influencer clients: a world-renowned speaker, thought-leader, and consultant in the business world, John Spence.

Our partnership with Spence is rather unique. His rasa.io newsbrief primarily consists of the articles that he - and some of his peers in the business influencer space - Tweet out to their followers, in addition to posts from The John Spence Achieving Business Excellence blog. Our rasa.io Artificial Intelligence automatically compiles the content that Spence determines to be relevant to his community, and then our AI individualizes the articles in each email based upon subscriber interests. 

Spence explains the value of his rasa.io newsbrief

John Spence and his marketing team have been enthusiastic about the value our newsbrief provides their community of subscribers from the very beginning; Spence describes that value in his own words:

“I have already had several people tell me that they love the newsletter and that the content is fantastic, which is especially cool because the AI is custom generating content for each reader. Also, I love it because it is hands off,  I set the parameters, it knows where to pull from, and the AI only puts up articles that I know will be of value to the readers. I know that I'm not wasting my readers’ time, and that they will find value in everything I send to them.

My rasa.io newsbrief content represents my individual brand and the way I believe in doing business; the product allows me to automatically distribute these important articles, along with my self-published content - all personalized for each member of my community - on a regular basis.

The [engagement level] has exceeded my expectations: 40% of my subscribers open our rasa.io emails. Beyond that, for the group we have gathered the most Artificial Intelligence information on, our open rate is about 60%. It feels great to know that the training, education, and business research resources I am passing to my followers are being used to help them grow.”

Read the John Spence case study in full!

Deliver the value of automated AI to your community

We are passionate about using AI to filter through the noise and deliver authoritative content that is of tangible value to our customers’ communities. What’s more, is that our personalization comes at no additional time cost to our customers’ teams. Instead of spending their time hand-segmenting emails, our customers spend their time reviewing the user insights they gain from our analytics dashboard. They can use those insights to develop their own internal content plans to achieve optimal value for their readers.

Learn more about how rasa.io can help you to personalize content with AI and automatically disemminate your valuable internal content to your readers.

Our upcoming webinar

If you are interested in learning about how you can do a better job of promoting your own internal content, register for our upcoming webinar: Promote Your Content Effectively to Drive Member Engagement.

Image credit: www.johnspence.com