In my past experience, I did not like designing and producing HTML email marketing campaigns. The emails that I created had their conceptual birth in another medium altogether: a Catalog, an Advertisement, or the Website. The concept and strategy was already finalized before it had gotten to me. At that point it was all about production.

How I see email working for 37signals
I want to take a different approach with 37signals email. Because we are not ready to start redesigning the marketing sites, I see an opportunity to use email as a means to experiment with concepts in anticipation of the redesign. That’s right. I am reversing that conceptual flow often practiced at many online retailers. Email isn’t going to follow what’s already been laid out. It’s going to lead the way. This is email as an inexpensive design and content testing platform.

Here’s the original design for the first Highrise email test:

Original Highrise Email

I am hoping to address some marketing site issues with this email. There is no place currently on the Highrise site where customer stories or tips can be found. We have a great Product Blog with stories and tips, but you can’t sign up for Highrise there. It is also difficult to know that we have Basecamp and other products if you’ve come to the Highrise site directly. Maybe Basecamp will suit your needs better. This is how we did it with this particular email. A few emails down the line might take a different direction altogether.

One caveat about using emails as a design and concept testing ground is that email clients are not perfect. The original design had to be adjusted slightly. You can see what we finally ended up with here:

Design compromises aside: Email becomes the perfect platform to perform this synthesis experiment. Elements and concepts from the design above may or may not make it into the final site design. That is still a ways away. We’ll cut our concepts for a site redesign over a span of several emails in the coming months. Would you like to see how it comes along? Sign up for our newsletters to see where these emails take us.