Email for Marketers

A new chapter

In May 2018, I moved to NYC and joined the newly formed Email Pod at Leanplum to lead research and design over its enterprise email capabilities. Our preliminary research revealed that our product was lacking in key areas that allowed marketers to do their job effectively. By focusing on solving critical jobs to be done and use cases, we were able to deliver real customer value and elevate the product to the highest NPS scores we’ve ever seen on our platform.

Measuring our competitiveness of over 60 different feature dimensions across these jobs of the email marketer

Storyboards of a customer's use case against current and future Leanplum use cases allow us to visualize what it takes to make a customer successful and plan our product roadmap

Finding the right problems to solve

We began our user research by interviewing over 30 enterprise customers that had used our legacy email features. We wanted a deep understanding of their use cases and what was preventing them from getting the most out of email in Leanplum.

Some learnings:

  • Marketers wanted to be able to easily build and deploy campaigns but did not have the technical resources to do so 
  • Marketers had no visibility into testing and previewing their personalized emails
  • Marketers needed feedback and validation to ensure that there were no mistakes along the creation process

Results of customer interviews clearly demonstrating a need for a better composer experience

To reinvent the wheel? Or not?

One of our biggest competitive advantages as a mobile-centric platform was our central user profile that could be used for specific targeting and personalization across channels. Enabling marketers to use that information in email meant they would be able to create better cross-channel campaigns resulting in higher engagement and conversions. However, building and changing email templates on-the-fly was not easy for marketers, especially those without a dedicated technical resource.

Was this compelling enough to build a completely new email editor for our needs or should we instead whitelabel an off-the-shelf drag-and-drop editor? Ultimately, we decided upon the latter after evaluating our options and researching competitors. That decision proved to pave our way towards faster adoption and delighting our customers due to saving massive development efforts of building tools from scratch.

An email action in Campaign Composer

Drag and drop email editor

Template manager

Let the users guide the way

After we released the drag and drop editor, the next biggest pain point to emerge from our research was the need to be able to preview and test the highly personalized emails they were composing. We worked closely with our customers to come up with the next solutions that would enable their success. Preview mode, which allowed marketers to test their email while impersonating a user, was an especially impactful feature set because it finally allowed marketers a way to see how their highly personalized emails actually looked like for real users, shedding light on what was previously a blackbox area of our product. In order to give users what they want, you have to really listen to them.

Some additional key use cases made possible by working closely with our customers:

  • Managing a library of email templates
  • Validate if personalization syntax was working during composition as an error check
  • Sending the preview (with impersonation) to a test device in order to see it live
  • Impersonating a user and spoofing event parameters that would normally be triggered locally
  • Testing an email against different clients, browsers, and spam filters
  • Saving content in an email as a reusable snippet and being able to update all instances of the used snippet

Preview by impersonation

Spam report

Saving a snippet

Learning from the past

Having learned from our experience in releasing Campaign Composer, our product development process and release strategy for Email was a much more human-centric approach. Upon the release of new features, we carefully informed customers of the changes that they would be seeing and guided them in accomplishing their desired use cases. Monitoring FullStory sessions and follow-ups with customers informed the appropriate iterations and improvements, which was especially important and timely when we noticed users getting lost or low scores.

Strategically triggered in-app surveys were crucial for us to measure the success of our releases and get quality feedback

Satisfaction of email features were the highest contributors to NPS


Do deep research to understand the ideal user/customer and their use cases. If you can make them successful, everything else  will naturally follow.

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