It was quite a surprise when Selligent informed us that Coolblue had won two tickets for the Litmus email conference. This year, the TEDC (The Email Design Conference) was held in London. We flew from Rotterdam to the English capital on 27 September with great expectations.

We arrived at our beautiful hotel in the City late Sunday evening. On Monday morning, we had a little time to explore the city, as the conference began in the afternoon. It was a perfect opportunity to enjoy the wonderful weather. We started with a stroll along the Thames then did a little shopping.

The conference started at 2:00pm with an excellent introduction by Justine Jordan and Fabio Carneiro. Their motto: “Email is awesome!” Over the two days, the presenters explained how to code simple email templates. They then gave us advice in improving our campaigns and some ideas to stimulate our inspiration. We also got an opportunity to meet specialists during “speed dating” sessions and to ask questions about our own emailing campaigns.

Litmus conference presentation

Three of the presenters made a particularly good impression on us. They were Mark Robbins, Alex Timlin and Parry Malm.

Mark Robbins | Building interactive email
We suspect that Mark Robbins surprised a lot of people with his presentation. He showed that it’s possible to make purchases directly from an email thanks to a few amazing design features. The numbers and colors of an email can be changed when the recipient clicks on it. The most impressive thing was that the total amount adjusts automatically in the body of the email. He also gave some examples of image carousel and played a game in an email. The best part was that his entire presentation was an email!

Alex Timlin | Turning big data into intimate moments
“A computer is more intelligent than a human being.” Based on the data it has at its disposal, a computer can make a better recommendation than a human being. However, Alex believes that large-scale personalization involves too many risks. Automated training doesn’t always work. For example, a computer can’t predict a fad. Only the combined work of data scientists and marketing specialists can produce the recommendations customers expect. In future, “engagement over time” and the “customer lifecycle” will have to be followed closely. From the personal standpoint: Should I send an email to this customer…or not?

Parry Malm – Does your subject line suck?
Everyone does an A/B test on email subject lines. The test compares one extreme to another, but doesn’t take emotions into account. Even though recipients open their emails based on them. Parry Malm believes that five important emotions are involved: “directness, urgency, curiosity, happiness and uniqueness”. These emotions condition whether or not an email will be opened. Ordering subject lines based on the five emotions identifies which are important and ensures that your subject line will have the intended effect.

Litmus conference lessons

In addition to the above-mentioned presenters, here are the most important lessons we took away from TEDC:

  • Take the disabled and the reading problems your readers may face into account. For example, the site provides detailed information on what to keep in mind when writing email for people who are color-blind.
  • “Localize your campaigns”: Take language into account to ensure you don’t make racist statements. A term may have a different meaning depending on the target culture. You have to be very familiar with the region where the recipients of your email live.
  • Use snippets to code email templates. Snippets are small sections of code you add to your HTML editor. Once entered, a pre-programmed section of code appears. They can save enormous amounts of time when you write your weekly electronic newsletter.
  • You can have a mobile version of email without media queries. The model adjusts to the screen size based on a number of calculations and to the “max-width”. Need a concrete example? Go to

Our stay in London ended after the two-day conference and we went straight back to the Netherlands. We increased our knowledge, met new people and had some time to enjoy London’s special atmosphere. We’re already putting some of what we learned at TEDC into practice at Coolblue. All in all, we’re very happy we won the tickets. Thanks Selligent! After these two inspiring days, we agree with Justine Jordan and Fabio Carneiro one hundred percent: “Email is awesome!

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