Necessity is the mother of invention – It’s about time we took control of our transactional emails

Late last year we were struck with an epiphany. We had built a great app that was adopted and used by hundreds of thousands of users. We were hard at work optimizing our website, focusing on our online marketing and things were great! However we were late to realise that we had completely overlooked one of the most powerful channels to our users. The transactional emails!

Let me put some context into this. We are the makers of Creately, an online collaborative diagraming tool that’s well loved by our users. Find out more at creately.com. When we realised the emails sent from Creately are quite substandard, the natural step was to go through and improve them. Hundreds of emails have been defined inside Creately over time which are sent during various actions such as when a diagram is shared or when a purchase happens. Since these were added over a period of time they were quite inconsistent and didn’t speak the same language.

Improving the emails was not a simple task mainly because of all these emails being stuck deep inside the app code. The natural step seemed like pulling all the emails out of the code and putting them in the database as templates, so that they could be accessed by anyone and at the same time be usable by the app.

So we did that. We moved the emails out of the code into the database as email templates. We also built a simple interface where templates can be edited by anyone and not just the devs. Though we thought this would give us full power over the email channel to the user, it merely gave access to the emails which could be changed to look better and consistent. Whenever there was a need to add more personalisation to an email there was the need for devs. Whenever there was another data parameter required to be added, there was the need for devs. Nevertheless we could not see how each email template was performing. We could not understand what should be changed in an email so that the user’s perception of it would be improved. Marketing, sales or designers didn’t have the flexibility we wanted them to have to better engage users using our transactional emails.

Creative people in your team know how to write great emails and they know what data they need. But they don’t know how to get the data. The devs know how to get the data. The designers know how to pimp up the email so its appealing to open, to read and to click. You need to have the right platform for all of these talents to work together to achieve the best out of your emails to engage users better.

So we started working on it. We created an environment where the email templates have full access to the live app data (behavioural, personalisation, etc.). Data parameters can be defined and used in templates which pull the data straight from the database. User lists (recipients) can be defined based on the behavioural data in the database. Multiple templates can be used to test user response on particular a scenario. Most of all anyone in the team is able to come up with creative ways to use transactional emails.

The more we worked on it and the more we talked about it, it was clear that we were solving a real problem for app builders. More the reason we felt it should be made available to anyone who needs it. So here we are!

Postreak. A transactional email management solution that sits behind your firewall and connects to your database. Lets your app connect through a simple API to send emails. I’ll let the following video explain the product.

Creately right now utilises Postreak in production. Postreak currently works with SendGrid for delivering emails and MySQL for data. We are working on adding the capabilities of other delivery platforms and database systems to make Postreak available for more app builders. We are also figuring out the best user experience for developers and non techies. We will be going into private beta soon and you will be able to get your hands on it. Make sure to subscribe for early access. Currently we have no plans on what Postreak might cost but there will most definitely be a free version available. For any further inquiries feel free to write to support@postreak.com, we’ll be more than happy to talk.