Weekly Blog Roundup – July 1, 2016

Happy Fourth of July Weekend! I know I haven’t written a blog post in a while aside from these “roundups,” but I’ve got something in the works! In the meantime, here’s some of the articles I’ve been reading the past week.

And let’s be honest, I’ve been reading a lot this week, so a thousand apologies for the thousand links. On the other hand, it’s some good reading material for you for a long weekend! 🙂 


Introducing Enhanced Social Posting” – Pardot

Pardot definitely is not meant to be your daily social media management tool. But their recent update to the tool makes Pardot one step closer to a one-stop shop.

Email Marketing

8 B2B email marketing examples that deserve a trophy” – Emma

Some pretty amazing email marketing examples in here. The Caterpillar example is one that you don’t see every day from the construction industry.

What is Emmet?” – Litmus

Emmet is an amazing tool for those who need to craft marketing emails on a regular basis. This isn’t Taxi for Email or anything like that. Emmet is meant to help you with the coding of your emails. Personally, I haven’t dug into it yet, but will definitely need to see how this could help my team.

The Top 3 Items to Consider when Logging Pardot Emails in Salesforce” – Paul B. Fischer

Paul hits on something here that I come across daily with my company, how do you choose what’s important or not important for your reps to see in Salesforce. I think the best point made is regarding the visibility of the information in Salesforce. I may have to write a follow-up post to that end. Thanks, Paul!

Marketing Automation Needs The Human Touch, Too” – GetResponse

The first of two posts from Kath Pay. This GetResponse post does a great job of reminding us that our marketing needs to be person-to-person, and not business-to-consumer or business-to-business.

Email Marketing Should Become Customer Service” – Mediapost

A second post from Kath Pay. This one is near and dear to my heart, even if it’s short. Great customer service is great marketing. And the reverse is also true, great marketing should be about great customer service. To that end, Kath Pay stresses that we marketers need to respect the expectations of our customers and “must deliver the promises they make when a consumer signs up for the email program.”

3 Ways the Job of Email Marketer Will Change by 2020—and How to Prepare” – Litmus

Some scary stuff in here if you or your company isn’t ready to change. If you are ready for change, some really fun stuff! I’ve been reading a bit about machine learning and email marketing, and this post from Chad White at Litmus brings up machine learning as one of the biggest changes coming to email marketing in the next 4 years.

The Importance of Email List Building” – Social Fusion

Short and sweet article with some basic steps on how to build your email list, and how to properly nurture your list.


What You Need to Know About the Voice Search Revolution From Microsoft’s Purna Virji #MNSummit” – TopRank Blog

Fascinating! While I don’t focus much on search in my current role, as a consumer and techie it’s always fun to see where tech is heading.


I’m not necessarily going to write about each of these, but I love reading articles on how other people work. My favorite spot for that is “Ways We Work.” Be sure to hit that up!

How the creative team at Favor works” – InvisionApp

Ways We Work – Becky Simpson” – Ways We Work

See Girl Work, Podcast Episode 12: In Conversation with Amandah Wood, Founder & Editor, Ways We Work” – See Girl Work


Could Trump Be Nurturing the Next Hitler?” – History News Network

There’s a lot of hyperbole in politics, so it’s hard to sometimes decipher the crackpots from the conspiracists from the actual historians. I don’t know much about the history of the US prior to World War I, nor the history of Adolph Hitler, but to me, the theory presented here seems more plausible than Trump actually being the next Hitler.

What the 1880s tell us about why the rich are moving to cities today” – Washington Post

“We have 80 years of essentially zero production of neighborhoods with these qualities,” Grant says. “We’ve spent the last 80 years building car-oriented suburbs. Then when the elites decide they want to go back into the city, there’s not enough city to go around.”

I’m a huge Jane Jacobs and Richard Florida fan. Huge. One of my favorite memories of my first job out of college was getting to tape Richard Florida speak at Iowa State University. Awesome. So, whenever I read a great story about cities, how they’re built, how they’re designed (or not designed), and how people move, well, I eat it up like my dog eats peanut butter.

What a real ‘Brexit Britain’ would look like” – Washington Post

A lot of noise these past few weeks about Brexit. While my personal stock portfolio has already jumped above pre-Brexit, there are several articles going around about the future. This is a fun little piece, not too based in reality, but fun nonetheless.

The Blogger Who Saved the Economy” – The Atlantic

GREAT short documentary. On par with the writing of Michael Lewis. Wonderful.

The Money Illusion

The blog of the aforementioned blogger. Good stuff.

For Fun

Yes, The Infield Shift Works. Probably.” – Fivethirtyeight.com

I love 538. Been reading since pre-Obama. They do great write-ups on sports as well (given they’re owned by ESPN these days, not the NY Times.) The Infield Shift is a weird aspect of baseball. Does it work? Is it baloney? Check it out.


Weekly Blog Roundup – June 24, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.

Email Marketing

How Machine Learning Takes Email Marketing to New Heights” – Only Influencers

Insightful, in-depth reporting on how machine learning (slash AI, or Artificial Intelligence) is already helping email marketers do email better. Kath includes three specific examples of companies using machine learning in the Email Marketing industry.

‘Spam King’ Sanford Wallace Sentenced to 2½ Years for Facebook Scheme” – NBC News

“Since 1995 — when he set up a company called Cyber Promotions to flood phones with junk faxes and, later, inboxes with junk email — King has lost numerous judgments in civil cases brought not only by Facebook, but also by the Federal Trade Commission, America On-Line and MySpace.”

Amazing that people waste their time for decades trying to spam others.

DMARC Changes Coming Soon To An Inbox Near You” – MediaPost

“Google and Microsoft will soon be embracing a p=reject DMARC policy, meaning that only Google can send email marketing messages from an @gmail address and only Microsoft can send email marketing messages from its suite of email applications, including Hotmail, outlook, live and MSN email accounts.”

I don’t see this affecting many corporations, as they will already be sending emails from their own domains. Can’t imagine there are too many legitimate marketers sending email from these domains.

Email Open Rates From The Top 5 Industries” – Winning Email

A simple list of the top industry open rates as of January 2016.

Salesforce Pardot

Salesforce Announces General Availability of Pardot Engagement Studio — B2B Marketing Automation Reimagined” – Salesforce Blog

Big update from Salesforce Pardot this week with the release of their Engagement Studio. Unlike their previously released Salesforce Engage that costs $50/user/month, Engagement Studio is a Generally Available release; every customer has access to Engagement Studio. This is a huge win for Pardot customers. I’ve long been a critic of the pricing strategy for Salesforce Engage, but that’s a completely separate topic.

Engagement Studio for Pardot” – Paul B. Fischer

A good write-up and tour of the new Engagement Studio in Pardot. Thanks Paul!


Weekly Blog Roundup – June 17, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.

Marketing (ish?)

Stop arguing about who owns digital. It doesn’t matter in the long run.” – Boagworld

I work in a very traditionally structured organization, where for several years the website design was owned by marketing, and the hosting/tech was owned by IT. I’d say it’s now 97-ish% owned by marketing. This post from Boagworld does a good job of addressing this issue.

Attracting and Retaining Good Digital Staff” – MediaTemple

Another post from Boag, but over at MediaTemple. People who work in Digital are a different breed, aren’t we? Here’s some tips on how to make sure we’re satisfied and productive.

Why Building Your Personal Brand Can be as Simple as Saying ‘Yes’” – Proposify [PODCAST]

I’m still on this personal branding kick while I start building up my blog, focusing on email marketing. So, I’ve been reading a lot on personal branding and what I can do moving forward.

Can we talk about gender diversity at email conferences?” – Only Influencers

A great article about an important topic. I know an incredible amount of women marketers. In fact, the majority of people on our marketing team at GreatAmerica are women. So, where is the same proportion of representation at conferences? I didn’t necessarily notice this at Dreamforce the last two years, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open on Diversity in the future!

Diversity: The Discussion” – Only Influencers

A follow-up discussion on the aforementioned link.

Email UX is Easy. Said No One Ever.

Creating new emails is so easy, isn’t it?


It’s easy to say that email marketing has become easier over the years, and for the majority of us, email marketing is easier.

I Didn't Choose the Email Marketing Life. It Chose Me.

I was a young, naive, 27-year-old getting my first taste of email marketing with a “wonderful” ESP named Manticore. I would routinely spend days coding and fixing emails. The WYSIWYG editor wouldn’t have been state-of-the-art in 1995. It was a horrible experience.

Needless to say, once I started getting the hang of what it took to create HTML emails, I soon was on the hunt for a new, more user-friendly ESP. And about 18 months after I started, I led the drive and search for a new ESP, which turned into a search for a marketing automation provider as the industry changed. At the end of the day, we ended up with Pardot and haven’t looked back.

Marketing Automation to the rescue!

The difference between Pardot and the previous platform, Manticore, is night and day AND the effect on myself and our company was immediate. My time spent working on individual emails went from 3-4 days to maybe half a day, if not less. Today, I work on an individual email maybe once every 3 months because everything is pretty much on autopilot design- and coding-wise.

(As an aside, this changed me and my job role from that of email/web grunt to email/web strategist, and I now spend most of my time driving our email/web strategy instead of coding. FTW!)


One of the main criteria we used in our ESP/MA search was “how easy was it to create an email?” We wanted all of our marketing staff to be able to create emails on a regular basis without the need for fixing code on a regular basis. This is one of the main reasons we ended up choosing Pardot. Pardot’s WYSIWYG editor was light years ahead of what we were used to and what we saw among other enterprise-level Marketing Automation providers.

Design in IE MemeChange the Editor

Fast-forward 2-3 years and I realize now how difficult email design remains.

Yes, many tools exist to make design and coding easier. Tools to make troubleshooting easier. Guides on what CSS works in what client.

The million-dollar question remains: Why is it so difficult to create good emails these days?

It’s Outlook’s fault!

We all do this. You can hear me on a regular basis damning Outlook to eternal hell. It’s easy for all of us to blame it on the inbox – the Outlooks, the Gmails, and LotusNotes. But the blame also resides with us, the marketers, the designers, the technologists in charge of email marketing and marketing automation.

“Emails that provide a better user experience should be within reach of most marketers. They should not require any hand coding. All complexity should be hidden behind better, more powerful email creation tools. That’s our job as product people, and we are — at least partially — failing.” – OnlyInfluencers.com

There are plenty of what I call “email nerds.” The people who understand to their core, email is 600px wide, only use tables, Word sucks, inline CSS, and so much more. These are the people who know how to code the exceptions so the email renders correctly in Outlook. But in lots of companies, like mine, there’s only one of you (or me) – if you’re lucky. I think of other marketers in my metro area (roughly 200,000 people or so), and how many use ESPs like Constant Contact. These are the marketers who don’t have the resources, human or capital, to dedicate themselves to crafting hand-coded emails.

How to save the Everyman Marketer?

Where are the options for them? Where are the tools for the Everyman marketer? I’ve tried to make our templates or code-snippets “super simple” for anyone on our team to copy-paste into the email they’re creating. But the options are pretty much limited to creating one-off templates/emails for each email they create – which is tedious and time-consuming – or I create plain text code snippets and save them on our intranet for them to copy. This leaves our marketers open to copying or pasting the code incorrectly, and now the template doesn’t work as intended.

Where’s the drag-drop editor? How can I make that “snippet” process even easier? Even more simple?

Innovation in Email Marketing

Taxi for Email” is a good start in this direction. From what I’ve seen of the latest MailChimp editor, that’s a good start as well. While “Taxi” is something that anyone can use, most other similar tools are proprietary tools stuck within siloed software.

How do we move the email marketing industry forward and spread the knowledge outside of each of our silos? How do we get marketers and our budgets to place the same attention on email marketing that we do on social media? This despite the fact that email continues to be one of THE best ways to connect with customers and prospects.

No Best Solution. Right now.

The above missive isn’t really meant to answer those questions. Not for me, and not for you. We all have our own specific needs and wants, strengths and weaknesses. But we need to come together, as marketers AND consumers (because we are both), and push the marketing industry towards a more user-friendly email design future.

Weekly Blog Roundup – June 10, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.


6 subject line and preheader perfect pairings” – emma

While there are a never-ending amount of articles like these, it’s always fun and interesting to see where subject lines are heading. Emma shares some fun, and entertaining, examples of recent subject lines.

Email trends & innovations we should talk about” – Only Influencers

AMAZING roundup of news and thoughts from the Email Innovations Summit. My favorite? “Beautiful UX in email is still too hard.” Definitely a MUST-READ.

The Wistia Guide to Calls to Action in Video Marketing” – Wistia

Video is more than a pretty moving picture. It’s proven to help move your customers along the sales journey. Make sure you know how to incorporate Calls to Action in your videos with this guide from the video marketing masters Wistia.

What can brands learn from brutalist web design?” – equator

I love simple. Minimalist. I’ve never heard of Brutalist design until I saw the below article from Vox. Once I started looking into as far as web design goes, it definitely tugs at my digital heart.

Brutalist architecture turns ‘ugly’ into a design statement. Here’s what that looks like on the internet.” – Vox

See above. The article that turned me onto Brutalist design.

Professional Development

Shine Theory: Why Powerful Women Make the Greatest Friends” – NYMag, The Cut

Written for women, but good information all around. Don’t be jealous of your successful friends.

5 Unusual Personal Branding Tips” – Inc.

Almost more of a round-up of personal branding tips. Check out the associated links in the article as well for some further reading.


Netflix Studied Your Binge-Watching Habit. That Didn’t Take Long.” – New York Times

We’ve known for a couple years that Netflix and Amazon are using data to create new shows. This article talks about how we consume those shows. What defines a binge?

The Drive: Numbers don’t lie; new app shows we’re not best drivers” – StarTribune

While I don’t live in Minnesota anymore, I use the app mentioned, EverDrive, to track my driving. It’s automatic, so I don’t have to think about it, and it gamifies safe driving, which is definitely fun!

7 Things Wrong with Donald Trump’s 7-Point Health Care Plan

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump released his “Health Care Reform Plan” today. Instead of throwing everything The Donald says out the window, I thought I would waste my time listing, point-by-point, my critiques of his reform plan.

Here goes nothing.

Since March of 2010, the American people have had to suffer under the incredible economic burden of the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare. This legislation, passed by totally partisan votes in the House and Senate and signed into law by the most divisive and partisan President in American history,

We can argue until we’re blue in the face about President Obama being divisive and partisan. What we can’t argue about is that Congress has an incredibly low approval rating. 1 If you’re looking for divisive and partisan, look no further than Congress.

has tragically but predictably resulted in runaway costs,

“On average, premiums have risen by about 5.8 percent a year since Obama took office, compared to 13.2 percent in the nine years before Obama.” 2

websites that don’t work,

Website works fine now. 3

Screen Capture of Healthcare.gov Home Page.
Screen Capture of Healthcare.gov Home Page.

greater rationing of care,

Sure, if you’ve got the money, you get whatever care you want. But, if you’re like over 40 million Americans before Obamacare, rationing takes the form of you not getting any healthcare.

Rationing of care? Been there, done that. 4

Rationing by price, or ability to pay, is familiar to most Americans.

higher premiums,

See above. True, premiums are higher. But so is inflation. Just in case you missed it above:

“On average, premiums have risen by about 5.8 percent a year since Obama took office, compared to 13.2 percent in the nine years before Obama.” 5

less competition and fewer choices.

“Trump said that under Obamacare, “you have no options,” for health insurance plans. That is true in about 10 percent of the counties where individuals buy their coverage on the government’s insurance exchange.” 6

“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported that 9 out of 10 returning customers using the national exchange, healthcare.gov, were able to choose from among at least three companies.” 7

Obamacare has raised the economic uncertainty of every single person residing in this country.

Uncertainty is a broad term. What could The Donald mean? In the past, when Republicans talk about “Obamacare” and “economic uncertainty” they talk about jobs, time spent on the job, and small businesses cutting jobs.

“President Obama’s health-care reform hasn’t meant less time on the job for American workers, according to three newly published studies that challenge one of the main arguments raised by critics of the Affordable Care Act.” 8

“…a December report by the Congressional Budget Office, which found Obamacare could reduce American work hours by the equivalent of 2 million total jobs over the next decade. However, the CBO projected that workers were likely to reduce their own hours voluntarily, because they would no longer have to hang on to full-time jobs to maintain health insurance, rather than being forced out by their employers.” 9

As it appears Obamacare is certain to collapse of its own weight,

I encourage you to Google “obamacare collapse” 10 and look at the number of right-wing articles that appear. However, if you read further, most of what the “collapse” refers to is the closing of most of the co-ops 11 created by Obamacare.

the damage done by the Democrats and President Obama, and abetted by the Supreme Court, will be difficult to repair unless the next President and a Republican congress lead the effort to bring much-needed free market reforms to the healthcare industry.

Do I even need to respond to this last part? Our Republican Congress has “lead the effort” to repeal Obamacare 62 times. 12 Where is the Republican “reform?”

But none of these positive reforms can be accomplished without Obamacare repeal. On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.

Good luck. We’ll see if you still have a Senate Majority if you’re the top of the GOP ticket.

However, it is not enough to simply repeal this terrible legislation. We will work with Congress to make sure we have a series of reforms ready for implementation that follow free market principles and that will restore economic freedom and certainty to everyone in this country.

Again, there have been over 60 votes to repeal Obamacare. There have been no votes to reform. There have been no votes or discussion to make Obamacare better.

By following free market principles and working together to create sound public policy that will broaden healthcare access,

“According to the CDC and Census data, for the first three months of 2015 the uninsured rate is 9.2% down from 15.7% before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. For just the 18 -64 demographic the same study shows the uninsured rate at 13% down from 22.3% in 2010 when the ACA was signed into law. These represent the lowest uninsured rates in over 50 years according to the study.” [Note] Obamacare Facts, “Obamacare: Uninsured Rates” [/note]

make healthcare more affordable

Again? Okay. “On average, premiums have risen by about 5.8 percent a year since Obama took office, compared to 13.2 percent in the nine years before Obama.” 13

and improve the quality of the care available to all Americans. [emphasis his]

Accountable care organizations, prevention and wellness completely covered, better care access on evenings and weekends, electronic health records, and remote care are just a few of the patient benefits from Obamacare. 14

Any reform effort must begin with Congress. Since Obamacare became law, conservative Republicans have been offering reforms that can be delivered individually or as part of more comprehensive reform efforts. In the remaining sections of this policy paper, several reforms will be offered that should be considered by Congress so that on the first day of the Trump Administration, we can start the process of restoring faith in government and economic liberty to the people.

Congress must act. Our elected representatives in the House and Senate must:

“What is clear, however, is that the Republican alternatives, such as they are, would remove coverage from many who have it now.” 15

  1. Completely repeal Obamacare. Our elected representatives must eliminate the individual mandate. No person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to.

Pretty much repeats my last point. Many people who gained health insurance through Obamacare would lose it under Republicans.

  1. Modify existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines. As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state. By allowing full competition in this market, insurance costs will go down and consumer satisfaction will go up.

Removing the prohibition of selling health insurance across state lines will encourage health insurers to move and relocate to less-regulated states. What does this mean for the consumer? Less-regulated insurance plans.

But don’t take my word for it. 16

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 11.52.15 AMScreen Shot 2016-03-03 at 11.52.47 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 11.52.47 AM

  1. Allow individuals to fully deduct health insurance premium payments from their tax returns under the current tax system. Businesses are allowed to take these deductions so why wouldn’t Congress allow individuals the same exemptions? As we allow the free market to provide insurance coverage opportunities to companies and individuals, we must also make sure that no one slips through the cracks simply because they cannot afford insurance. We must review basic options for Medicaid and work with states to ensure that those who want healthcare coverage can have it.

If you currently receive employer-based insurance, deducting medical insurance premiums would be “double-dipping,” as most premiums are paid with pre-tax dollars.

Trump is correct that we cannot currently fully deduct health insurance premiums. My question is how do you pay for these deductions? How much would this cost?

As far as Medicaid, Obamacare did expand the reach of Medicaid. It was Republican-controlled states that declined Medicaid Expansion.  17
Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 12.12.19 PM Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 12.12.08 PM

  1. Allow individuals to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Contributions into HSAs should be tax-free and should be allowed to accumulate. These accounts would become part of the estate of the individual and could be passed on to heirs without fear of any death penalty. These plans should be particularly attractive to young people who are healthy and can afford high-deductible insurance plans. These funds can be used by any member of a family without penalty. The flexibility and security provided by HSAs will be of great benefit to all who participate.

We can already use Health Savings Accounts. They are already tax-free. They already are allowed to accumulate. They already are a part of an individual estate and passed on without an estate tax, or death penalty. They already can be used by any family member.

  1. Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure.

Wait, do you mean like the comparison tool I can use with my insurance provider? Where I can look up the procedure, the facility, and the physician performing the procedure? 18

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 12.30.23 PM copy

True, it’s not complete transparency, but that’s not an Obamacare problem. That’s a medical industry problem that can still be fixed and needs to be fixed.

  1. Block-grant Medicaid to the states. Nearly every state already offers benefits beyond what is required in the current Medicaid structure. The state governments know their people best and can manage the administration of Medicaid far better without federal overhead. States will have the incentives to seek out and eliminate fraud, waste and abuse to preserve our precious resources.

Are these the same states that have refused to accept federal funds to administer state Medicaid programs? Are these the same states that refuse to administer their state Medicaid programs, privatizing that administration instead?

  1. Remove barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable and cheaper products. Congress will need the courage to step away from the special interests and do what is right for America. Though the pharmaceutical industry is in the private sector, drug companies provide a public service. Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers.

Drug reimportation, while not typically a Republican policy centerpiece, is an idea with bipartisan support. 19 Traditionally, the barrier to implementing drug reimportation has been the pharmaceutical industry and the politicians they buy through lobbying.

Looking at the big picture, though, we need to look at where the pharmaceutical industry spends money. The price of drugs is a more complex issue than “drugs are cheaper in other countries.”

“Advertising dollars spent by drug makers have increased by 30 percent in the last two years to $4.5 billion, according to the market research firm Kantar Media.” 20

“The AMA’s new policy recognizes that the promotion of transparency in prescription drug pricing and costs will help patients, physicians and other stakeholders understand how drug manufacturers set prices. If there is greater understanding of the factors that contribute to prescription drug pricing, including the research, development, manufacturing, marketing and advertising costs borne by pharmaceutical companies, then the marketplace can react appropriately.” 21

Like much of Donald J. Trump’s campaign and candidacy, this plan is a bunch of hot air. There is nothing of substance. There is nothing within this “plan” that is new. There’s nothing here that would actually help Americans.


Bulletproof Email Button Roundup!

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.49.06 AM
The original situation.

Came across this thread the other day. Spot on for anyone designing emails, and a great discussion, with lots of amazing shared resources on creating “bulletproof buttons” for email design.

I thought I would take a moment to write up my thoughts, and share some of those resources as well.

Best Resources for Creating Bulletproof Buttons for Email

1) SexyButton – A Responsive, Universal, HTML Email Button

"SexyButton" from BluePrint Interactive
“SexyButton” from BluePrint Interactive

Many of the resources this list includes are home-brewed solutions created by email marketers for their own in-house marketing needs. The “SexyButton” created by BluePrint Interactive is no exception. Not only does BluePrint provide the code for “SexyButton,” they also include a writeup of it’s creation, an explanation of the coding, and examples of how the “SexyButton” renders in different email clients.

Pros: Code available for end user. Button renders correctly. in most common email clients.

Cons: Only code based. Need to know HTML to edit button.

2) Bulletproof email buttons – The Holy Grail of Bulletproof Email Button Creators, Buttons.cm.

Bulletproof email buttons from Campaign Monitor
Bulletproof email buttons from Campaign Monitor

Buttons.cm from Campaign Monitor is a very easy tool to choose what options you desire for your button. They’ve included several different examples as well, so you can start from a template and change to what your email design calls for.

Pros: Allows user to change specific parameters of button design. Gives visual example of final button design. Copy HTML code directly from creator.

Cons: If your email template is <table> designed, you’ll need to fix things a bit to make the button work correctly.

3) Cheshire Impact – “Top 5 Free Call to Action Button Generators.” 

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 2.13.52 PM

A great resource from one of the premiere Pardot expert organizations. Cheshire Impact goes through 5 different button generators, each with their own value-adds. Great resource to check out. Be sure to follow them on Twitter as well!

4) Litmus – A Guide to Bulletproof Buttons in Email Design. Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 2.16.19 PM

This is more of a background on bulletproof email buttons, which is a good place to start if you’re looking into the reasons why you should include non-image CTA buttons in your email designs. We can still make our designs “pretty” without being reliant on having an image-based email design!


How language gives your brain a break

Here’s a quick task: Take a look at the sentences below and decide which is the most effective.

(1) “John threw out the old trash sitting in the kitchen.”

(2) “John threw the old trash sitting in the kitchen out.”

Either sentence is grammatically acceptable, but you probably found the first one to be more natural. Why? Perhaps because of the placement of the word “out,” which seems to fit better in the middle of this word sequence than the end.

Great read for all types of writing. (Via MIT)

Salesforce Pardot – Import User Sync Issue

Came across a “bug” with Salesforce Pardot yesterday while uploading new sales Users.

I’m writing this as a warning to other Pardot customers, and as a suggestion to Pardot. 


  1. Change the User Import process to automatically dedupe existing Users.
  2. Add functionality so that Salesforce Users are automatically synced to Pardot Users, including User Role.

Here’s the sitch: 

I had a .csv of all of our Full License Salesforce.com Users that I needed to import to Pardot.

Pardot Users Menu Animation
Pardot Users Menu Animation

Once I selected the .csv file in the import window, and matched the correct fields for import, I finished the process, and clicked “Confirm and Save.”

A couple minutes later, when I got the email saying the import was completed, something crazy happened.

I lost Admin access to Pardot.

Unbeknownst to me, when I imported the .csv file, I indicated that the User Role should be Sales. Because I didn’t indicate the User Role in the original .csv, Pardot used “Sales” for all imported Users.

Pardot - Users Role
Where the mistake happened.

You might ask yourself, if I saw that under User Role, I’m specifically warned, “If the Role field is not mapped, all users imported will be assigned this role.” why did I continue to import?

Because, earlier in the process, Pardot specifically notes “Any users who already exist within Pardot will be skipped during the import process.” So, I thought, this is not going to affect any current User in Pardot.


I was wrong.

It took several hours for Pardot Support to provide me access back to the account. For those several hours, our team had no Admin access to our Pardot account. Yikes!

Today, everything is resolved and back to normal.

Here’s what YOU can do to help:

If you’re a Pardot customer, click on both links below and “upvote” the two ideas for this situation (or related situations).



Let’s make it clear to Pardot and Salesforce that we need to see greater connectivity between the two systems at a default, and not as a higher-priced add-on.



Will Alfred App Kill Society as we know?

Evan Selinger, a professor of philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology, is skeptical of outsourcing apps like Hello Alfred. He urges us to look at the bigger picture. Is it truly giving us more time or just the illusion of it? What do we lose when we stop doing the little things? (via PBS Newshour)

Tech-age butlers aren't just for superheroes anymore
Tech-age butlers aren’t just for superheroes anymore – PBS Video

A year ago, an app like Hello Alfred would have been extremely attractive to my household. We were in the middle of trying out services like Plated, Hello Fresh, and Club W, hoping to avoid the doldrums of planning ahead and choice with the latest app.

PBS Newshour looked at Hello Alfred, a seeming clone of services like Taskrabbit, where you pay to have someone else take care of the less pleasant tasks in life. In a certain light, this is the natural progression of the “lifehacking” movement into the app world.

But what does lifehacking bring to our lives? What happens when we outsource our lives to Others?

Lifehacking is a larger symptom of the value our society places on doing more, on being busy. We value the illusion of living more than actually living.

1. “As a society, we are so overworked and so stressed out that we need to outsource as many tasks as possible.”

What is Plated?
Description of Plated

“…so you can create great food with less effort.”

When we tried Plated, it was because we wanted to outsource tasks in our lives. We felt too busy to shop, too busy to plan ahead. When we came home, we didn’t want to think, so we found and paid someone else to think for us — Plated.

Plated is a great example of the current wave of “life outsourcing” because it’s stated aim, creating great food with less effort, is something that is attractive to many families.

My wife and I, however, learned some valuable lessons from Plated.

One, it’s great food. Two, you still have to cook it yourself. Three, it’s pretty damn easy to create great meals, you just have to have the right recipe and ingredients.

So, what happened? We learned to simplify our grocery shopping and meal planning and stopped using Plated. We did, because of financial necessity, what many other families do: build your week’s menu out of ingredients you can use in multiple ways for multiple meals.

We’ve simplified our breakfasts and lunches, so the only meal we need to plan for each week is dinner; everything else is pretty much on regular rotation – autopilot.

And the reason for this was the same reason why we chose to use Plated, to stop thinking and stressing over our meals. We now have a healthy balance of eating out, convenience foods/meals, and home-cooked dishes.

We still outsourced, but instead of using an app, we simplified the entire process instead.

2. “Silicon Valley is trying to disrupt friction in our lives. We should avoid friction.”

To me, this is one of the main theses of Silicon Valley and/or VC investment culture today:

Take a common pain point and create an app or service, providing your company recurring revenue to solve that pain point in a person’s life.

But why?

Why do I need to pay a subscription service for replacing my furnace filters? Really? Buy a six-pack, put them next to your furnace, create a monthly reminder on your phone. Done. And you know what? It costs a lot less than a subscription.

So many of these apps and services seem to be coastal phenomena, rather than actual game-changers; they address extremely local problems that make venture capitalists seem to think these coastal problems (and “solutions”) much far-reaching than they are in real life.

Once the real world evaluates the “solutions” that Silicon Valley proposes, more often than not, the solution fails. Only when the solution affects a larger population, or solves a “real” problem, can it truly succeed long term.

Laundry services as apps cannot scale. They merely switch out one solution for a complete copy, just with a prettier app (or app, period.) Wine subscription service? A swap for a visit to the local liquor store (or gas station, here in Iowa) would be warranted instead. Take any of these service-based apps, and you’ll find that the solution proposed doesn’t hold much of a candle to services already provided by society at-large.

3. “What kind of person do I become as I outsource more of my life?”

I thought this was the more intriguing question posed by the Newshour article, and one that I hadn’t fully thought about until coming upon the question.

The idea the question poses to me is the precursor to the feelings and emotions I now have towards services like Plated and Club W. If I were to outsource more and more decisions of my life, what do I have left?

Yes, I do like the utopian idea that the more I outsource, the more I can focus on what is “meaningful” in my life. Or the idea that the monetary value of my time outweighs my own time spent on menial tasks.

I can see the points and values of those arguments.

But, I think the Newshour article wants us to go deeper than that first level question. What I think we need to ask ourselves is this, “What creates meaning in our life?”

The goal of outsourcing tasks is to simplify.

I see two ways of accomplishing the goal of simplification.

One: Hire out.

Two: Cut out.

What our society tells us today is that we need to hire out, we need to be constantly and consistently doing more. We need to watch more television shows, then read the books those shows are based off, then read the blogs, be on Twitter, pick up our kids, cook meals, read bedtime stories, do laundry, walk the dog, pick up dog poo, clean the litter box, go to happy hour, work on a side business, write our blog, you name it.

Tired just reading that list, aren’t you? I am.

In the long run, hiring out, outsourcing, is worse than doing the task ourselves; outsourcing hides the real truth from us and from society.

We do too much. We are too busy.

4. “I don’t have to worry about <insert concern here> because <app or service> will take care of it.”

When does it stop? When do we stop outsourcing our lives and start living them? When we outsource our lives to apps and services that allow ourselves to ignore what happens in our lives, we lose a part of our humanity. That statement may seem a little too “pollyanna” for some, but please recognize that this comes from a family that has tried these apps and services.

There is no quick answer, no easy way to “not be busy.” An app, by itself, is not going to make your life easier. A service, by itself, is not going to make your life easier. What is going to make your life easier and seem less busy is to focus on the items of importance.

Frankly, our society is so preoccupied with quick fixes that we stop working towards a better future if the fix takes too much work. This preoccupation permeates our society all the way from the individual and family level, to the heights of corporate and political leadership. We’re looking for the quick buck, the quick solution to our problem, the diet pill, and so forth.

The easy solution?

Focus on living. Focus on life. Your family. Your friends. Your community.

Don’t live a Facebook life, or an Instagram life. Live your life.