Interview with Jason Rodriguez, messaging expert


Jason Rodriguez wants you to create better emails – emails that are responsive and accessible… emails that can handle dark mode… emails that will help you get your message across as quickly and efficiently as possible. Fortunately, Jason also wants to show you How? ‘Or’ What create better emails!

If you don’t already know Jason, he’s worked professionally in email marketing, design, and development for over a decade, and was the community and product evangelist at Litmus for several years. (If you’ve ever googled something about deliverability or email design, you’ve probably come across a Litmus article, and maybe even an article written by Jason!) Jason is also the author of several books, especially The Ultimate Guide to Email Templates and The Ultimate Guide to Email Accessibilityand it publishes its own email newsletter called The Better Email.

Even better, Jason is also speaking at our upcoming online event, The Design + Marketing Summit. So we met him and asked him a few questions.

Q: How did you get into this industry, professionally?

I’ve always been a creative person and loved designing things. In high school, I learned Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign as part of the yearbook and newspaper teams. In college, I did the graphic design for my band’s flyers and CD covers. (I even created a few websites with iWeb and, yes, customized our MySpace page…) But it wasn’t until around 2007 that I started taking web design and development seriously, teaching myself HTML , CSS, web standards and enough JavaScript and PHP to be dangerous.

After accumulating enough work, I found a job at a local agency. Being in the Detroit area, pretty much every agency supports one of the Big 3 auto companies, so I quickly found myself building websites and in-house tools for Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury. As I was familiar with HTML and CSS, I was also responsible for creating HTML email campaigns for millions of subscribers in North America. I learned that email and web design, although they share the same underlying technology, are completely different worlds. Unfortunately, not many people were talking about email design online back then, so it took a lot of trial and error to figure out what worked in the inbox.

This led me to start blogging about email design and marketing, and eventually self-publishing a book on the subject. Since then, I’ve been working with email, learning the ins and outs of this archaic but surprisingly effective channel, and teaching others how to send better email campaigns to their subscribers.

Q: What is the most commonly underestimated or misunderstood thing in your corner of the design and marketing world?

Beyond HTML and CSS, the one thing email has in common with the web is a disregard for accessibility. While more and more email marketers have focused on accessibility over the past few years, most senders view it as an afterthought, if anything. But accessibility is just as important in email as it is on the web. By focusing on creating more accessible experiences for the people who really need them, you create better experiences for everyone on your list. Taking an accessibility-focused approach to email marketing leads to more engaging copy, more thoughtful designs, and a more seamless experience for all of your subscribers. It is worth the investment.

Q: Trick or obscure trick you use all the time?

While I pride myself on being able to manually code emails from scratch when needed, I also realize that it’s usually a huge waste of time. That’s why I’m a big fan of saving and relying on code snippets instead of writing them for every email or copying and pasting code from old emails. I use a tool called Alfred on my Mac and have everything from header tags to commonly used email templates saved as snippets. All I have to do is type a keyword in my text editor and all the pre-tested code I need is written for me. There are many tools that allow you to save snippets, but people either don’t know about them or haven’t taken the time to set them up, resulting in a lot of wasted time creating emails, without talk about potential. errors in their code that could affect how subscribers see their emails.


Q: What are you most looking forward to sharing in your next session?

I’ll be covering a lot of ground during my talk at the Design + Marketing Summit – from how to visually design more effective campaigns to some common coding mistakes everyone makes – but I’m very happy to share practical advice that everyone everyone can use whether they are designers, developers or marketers without any coding effort to speak of.

People use lots of different tools to create and send emails, but there are some very specific things they can do in their campaigns to make them more accessible and engaging for their subscribers, not to mention more value for their businesses. I plan to put a few together so everyone can send better emails, whether they’re coding them from scratch or customizing a WYSIWYG template in their email service provider.


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