October 22, 2019 | Email Marketing

It’s Lit! (mus): 13 Features We Love In Our New Email Marketing Tool

We do a lot of emails. A lot.

With so many email marketing campaigns & projects cycling around the office at any given time, keeping things organized through edits and iterations can be tricky.

Litmus Logo

We knew we needed something to keep everything in order from start to finish, and we started looking hard for a better tool.

That’s why, when it comes to simplifying the email creation process—from initial idea through the building, testing, the send itself, and beyond—few tools have made more of an impact on our process than Litmus

Litmus logo

For the past few months, our thoughts on Litmus as an all-around email tool have evolved from “this is pretty neat” to “how did we ever live without this?”

Here’s a look at why Litmus has become such an invaluable tool for an agency focused on efficiency.

Our Favorite Features:

  1. Advanced HTML Builder
  2. CSS Snippets
  3. Grid View
  4. ESP Integration
  5. Work with Clients
  6. Team Collaboration
  7. Seamless Proofing
  8. Email Client Previews
  9. Spam Testing
  10. Checklists
  11. Track Engagement
  12. Discover Locations
  13. Campaign Analytics

 

An Email Builder Built For Email Builders

There’s an old saying in the email marketing world:

“An email marketer is only as good as the tools (s)he uses to build campaigns.”

(Ok, whatever, it’s not an old saying. But it’s still true, and we’re sticking with it.)

Litmus does a lot of things, and an email builder is just one of them. Plus, at the end of the day, it’s not even the only builder we use. But when it comes to bringing all those ideas and tools together into one easy platform, Litmus has made a huge difference.

 

Easy to Import HTML From Other Builders

Sometimes, it’s nice to keep things simple—and for our design team, that meant keeping the email building process in BEE Pro, their preferred building tool. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be some crossover, and Litmus makes bringing everything into one single stream fast and efficient.

Litmus - Email Builder

Litmus includes a few easy ways to bring HTML in from another builder, including everything from a simple copy-paste to direct integration with Google Drive. This helps minimize the steps between our preferred builder and the robust testing & analytics of Litmus—shortening what could otherwise be a tedious process.

 

So Close We’re Finishing Each Other’s CSS

It’s no fun repeating yourself—especially if you have to repeat yourself a hundred times. 

That’s why one of our favorite features of the Litmus builder is the option to build reusable code snippets. This lets us quickly save those most-frequently-used chunks of code, and to pull them up later as we’re in the building process.

Litmus - Snippets

Plus, Litmus’s handy CSS autofill feature makes in-line coding and styling even easier—like Litmus knows what we want before we even say so. It’s nice to have someone listen, you know?

 

Grid View—Making it Even Easier To See The Skeleton

…not just for Halloween season anymore.

This “skeleton” is actually an element-by-element breakdown of each piece of an email. By activating Grid View in Litmus, our designers can quickly switch from any HTML element in the email preview pane and be directed right to that specific spot of code, and vice versa.

Litmus - Email Builder Grid View

That means less time combing through lines of code to find the specific element and more time spent actually getting things done and dusted.

 

Simple Integration With Preferred ESPs

As an agency, we’re used to working with clients’ preferred email service providers—it’s that flexibility that makes our expertise so special.

But we’ve got a secret:

Litmus makes it pretty easy.

Litmus - ESP Integrations

That’s because Litmus can integrate most popular ESPs—including Mailchimp, Salesforce, CampaignMonitor, and more. This lets us pretty much eliminate the copy-paste process and instead allows our designers to pull code directly into the ESP of our client’s choosing.

Plus, when we make updates in Litmus, those updates carry over to the ESP automatically.

Proofing

Like any creative pursuit, an email isn’t truly finished until it’s been thoroughly reviewed, edited, and perfected. We knew we needed an easy way to track comments, edit requests, and iterations on each and every email we build—and keeping all of that conversation on separate email chains, with multiple teams, was getting way too confusing. 

Fortunately, Litmus streamlines that with some pretty simple innovations that have made the proofing process easier, faster, and more efficient.

 

Easy To Pull Clients Into The Process

In a fast-paced design process, static screenshots shared via chat just aren’t enough to keep everyone on the same page. That’s why we needed a tool that we could invite our clients to experience hands-on, and Litmus lets us do just that.

Litmus - Invite Clients

By inviting clients into our Litmus account, we can give them easy access to the design process in real-time. Plus, we can keep tight control over who can see what, meaning we can keep the clutter at a minimum and let clients see exactly what they need to, when they need to (and nothing more).

 

Designed with Team Collaboration in Mind

One of the biggest benefits of an agency environment is the chance for our team members to touch multiple projects at once, but keeping the right people on the right teams organized and moving in the same direction can also be a challenge. 

Litmus - Teams and Groups

We like how Litmus lets us assign each of our internal team members to specific clients and accounts within Litmus, making it even easier to make sure our team members can keep a close watch on what’s happening with each project along the way. If we need something from somebody on our end, letting them know is just a comment away—and if everything’s all good, we can see who has given final approval before we send the email.

 

Comments Keep Everyone Aligned on Edits

The need for one simple collaboration space was really the driving force behind our search for an email tool. Sure, we’ve got a CRM and direct contact with our clients—but sometimes you just want to have all comments, edits, and suggestions in one place.

Litmus did us one better by putting all of that right on each email itself, and that’s made a huge difference in our approval process.

Litmus - Proof Comments

Now, our designers and writers can get a quick and holistic view of the entire email iteration process, including a quick rundown of all comments and suggestions on each email.

Best of all, we can tag comments to the exact point on the email they’re referencing, helping to minimize confusion when there’s just that one comma that needs to be added.

Testing

Sending an email without testing it first? Don’t be surprised when your open rates take a hit. All too often, emails go out that haven’t been fully vetted against all email clients, spam filter, blacklists, and more. That can make things can look bad… as in, “this is going straight to the Trash” bad. 

Fortunately, Litmus takes testing to a new level with some pretty robust integrations that let us check our emails against pretty much every possible stumbling block in the book. That means less time spent trying to figure out what went wrong, and more time to figure out what can go even better next time around.

 

Preview Across Outlook, Gmail, Apple Mail, etc. As We’re Building

What’s good for Apple may not be great for Google—and yes, a lot of people still use Outlook.

One of the biggest foibles to creating an email in one builder is not knowing with certainty how it’s going to look across all email clients.

Litmus - checklist previews

Litmus answers that by offering real-time previews of how your email will look across all major email clients as you’re building, meaning it’s quick and easy to spot & fix mistakes long before a bad draft gets to your readers.

 

Spam Testing Helps Avoid Those Awkward Open Rate Fails

It’s a bad feeling: you go through the trouble of planning, building, perfecting, and sending out an email for a client—only to have the open rates barely budge. DOA.

The culprit? Spam filters.

These days, testing against spam filters is basically a prerequisite for any email marketer. That’s why we like Litmus: it tests against dozens of different spam filters and common blacklists to make sure your email is compliant with industry standards.

Litmus - checklist spam testing

Plus, Litmus also aligns your email infrastructure to ensure your email is being properly authenticated using DKIM and SPF, and helps ensure that your DMARC record is set up correctly.

Together, these improvements help to make sure your best email efforts aren’t going to waste as your well-crafted emails sit in somebody’s Spam folder.

 

Checklist Keeps Things Moving Forward Smoothly

Everybody likes a good checklist. 

(Don’t check us on this—it’s true and you know it.)

When it comes to keeping an email moving forward, having a checklist can be the make-or-break factor in getting things built, edited, tested, and ready to send without making dumb mistakes. That’s why we were so psyched to dig into Litmus’s Checklist feature, which lets us make sure we’ve done everything we possibly can before an email is sent to the client (and, even better, to their lists).

Litmus - checklist steps

The Litmus checklist extends well beyond just spam filters and email client previews; it gets down into the nitty-gritty of good email design, including:

  • Checking subject lines, from addresses, reply-to addresses, and preview text for optimal inbox presence
  • Catching broken links and verifying that clicks are being tracked
  • Checking what each email looks like with images turned off (for those non-visual consumers)
  • Testing loading speed to make sure things pop as soon as a user engages
  • Making it easy to share all steps along the checklist with all relevant team members.

Using the awesome power of the checklist, we can follow all of our best practices to a “T,” and know exactly where we messed up if something gets missed. Nothing like a little insurance policy to make you feel better before you hit “send.”

Review, review, review (analytics)

If you’re one of those marketers who builds out an email, approves it through the review checklist, hits “send,” and then sits back and breathes a sigh of relief, I have bad news—you’re doing it wrong.

As with all content marketing efforts (of which email is definitely a part), the post-send review is just as important a step in the process as the actual creation itself.

That’s why Litmus’s robust analytics and review platform has been such a useful tool for our email team: it lets us keep close watch over what’s working, what’s not, and what we need to repeat next time.

 

See All Aspects of Engagement - From Open rates to Forwards & Prints

There’s a lot of hay made about attention metrics for email like open rates and read time—and don’t get me wrong, those are huge and always important—but they don’t tell the whole story around email engagement. 

What about forwards to folks not on your contact list? What about the real old timers who print emails out to share internally?

Litmus - analytics open rates

These are the infamously unquantifiable metrics that agencies and brands have never quite been able to get a hold of… until now. Built to measure as many avenues of engagement as possible, Litmus actually measures all of these factors to give a bigger, badder, and more holistic view of what users are doing with your email once it hits the inbox.

 

Track Opens Across Geolocations

It’s one thing to know how many people are opening your emails, or how much they’re doing once they’re in there; it’s another thing to know where those engaged recipients are. For marketers looking to build out geo-specific lists based on previous engagement, this data can be crucial. Litmus makes keeping an eye on it easy.

Litmus - analytics geolocation

By knowing where we’re seeing the most engagement on our email campaigns, we can more efficiently pick out which regions are most engaged with the campaign. We like to call those our “hot zones”—and they can tell us a lot about when and how we should strike next.

 

Quickly See How Well Campaigns Perform Over Time

Analytics for each email are big—but long-term trends are even bigger. We love a good graph of data over time, and Litmus gives us a pretty thorough snapshot of performance for campaigns and clients both immediately post send and over the long term. That way, we can quickly see (and communicate to clients) which campaigns do well in the long run and which strategies we should revisit later on down the road.

Litmus - analytics long term

We Love To Say “Send It” (And Not Just On The Mountain)

At the end of the day, email still plays a big role in how brands communicate with their customers—but without the right tools to guide the process, keeping things moving and measured can be a real pain.

We like Litmus. It’s efficient, easy, built for teams, and really just made for making our lives easier. Plus, we’ve kinda become experts on it, and we’ve brought quite a few clients on board. The results have been pretty impressive, both internally and for our clients… and it’s starting to make us wonder how we ever did without it.

Look, we know that email can be tough. If you’re in search of a better way to keep your flow going strong without getting lost in the inbox, give us a call (or, to stay on theme, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and we’ll let you in on how Altos can turn your email marketing efforts up to 11.

Conor Snell

Let's Put Our Minds Together.

Work With Us