Results from Litmus’ big-ole-survey of email production methods and issues. An interesting view of what folks are doing/using out there. Go over to see them and grab yourself a copy of the 2016 State of Email Production eBook. It’s very good.

Summarised below.


The report breaks into the sections: Who took the SurveyTeam CompositionContent PlanningProduction CyclesEmail Design & Development ToolsQuality AssuranceApproval ProcessEmail PlatformsInterventions & Apology emails.

Who Took The Survey

900 diverse professionals, Q3(ish) 2015

Majority of these muti-hatted:

  • 70.4% Email coding/development
  • 62.4% Email strategy
  • 61.3% Email designing
  • 61.2% Email performance analysis/analytics 
  • 58.3% Email planning
  • 48.4% Management of email marketing projects 
  • 39.0% Oversee all email marketing channel activities
  • 36.4% Email copywriting
  • 13.4% Oversee all marketing activities
  • 5.9% Oversee all business operations

60% working at mid to large companies (over 100)

33% B2C, 26% B2B, 23% Agency/freelance

U.S. bias but over ⅓ primarily do business outside US

Team composition

Size of email team:

  • 1-2 (41%) (rising to 48% for companies of under 500)
  • 3-4 (27%)
  • 5-6 (13%)
  • 11+ (10%)

Proportion of email developers in the team seems to be between 25 and 50%. (Percentages not explicit: correlation seen between percentages of numbers of devs to percentages of the size of whole team. Perhaps easier to understand if you just look at page_7.)

“Companies with 500 or more employees were twice as likely as smaller companies to use freelancers and agencies.”

Content planning

Planning Software

Vast majority (83%) use Google Apps or Microsoft Office. Next up Basecamp or Trello (14-18% with Trello more popular outside US). Jira is a bit player @ 2.5%

Production Cycles

Broad variety in implementation of templates: Coding from scratch (2x as likely for agencies); editing code (of template or of previous email); WYSIWYG editor; reuse header and footer +snippets from old emails; library of components or modules

Emails in production: 45% have just 1-5, 23% 6-10 … 10% over 30

Production cycle: 32% a couple of days; 25% one week; 19% 2 weeks; (tailing off from here)

Time spent on tasks (Data logic, Copywriting, Design, Coding, Testing): tends to be a couple of hours per task – peaks at one to two hours and tails off

Email Design & Development Tools

HTML editors used: Dreamweaver plus something else is the trend. (top of the tail off are the ESP editor and Sublime Text – with Litmus builder a strong showing at 4th with 21%)   

Design programmes used: overwhelmingly Photoshop (80%+). Add design in browser and Illustrator with a third each

[Now for the seriously geeky tools not used by most…]

Use of Emmet plug-in (HTML & CSS workflow tool): only 6%

CSS inliners not used by 73%. (My old favourite Premailer doesn’t make the list)

HTML frameworks: roughly split between an internal custom created framework (44%) and none (38%). Strongest third party offering used are  HTML Email Boilerplate (8%) and MailChimp Blueprints (7%)

[Static site] generators: 95% do not use one (Handlebars, Middleman, Assemble, Jekyll or other)

Task Runners (automation of repetitive tasks like inlining and sending test emails): 93% do not use any (Grunt, Gulp, Codekit and other)

Preprocessing not used by 92% (Sass the most popular at 3%, then Haml, Less, SCSS, other)

Post processors not used by 93% (to sanitise CSS. no specified tools)


Checklists: extensive (21%), short (53%), none (26%)

Email preview methods: preview software (55%), use various inbox providers (18%), employees emails (19%), only occasionally (2%), no (7%)

Email preview software: Litmus (79%), ESP tool (15%), Email on Acid (14%), Return Path (8%), other

Extent of testing: Focsed on most popular email clients (47%), Focused on users’ email clients (28%), aim for excellence on all email clients (25%)

Documenting QA issues: via email or [Slack] (42%), PM app comments (34%), Ticket tracking app (18%), Google docs or similar (4%), comments in design feedback app such as Invision or Notable (4%), comment on ESP platform (1%), verbally (2%),  another method (7%), none (4%)


Number of people to approve a send: 1-3 nearly 70% (US companies tend to have more in the chain)

Highest level in company for approval: 38% marketing manager

Approval usually on same day or one day before send (77%)

Email Platforms

51% use one, 28% use two platforms, 12% use three, 9% use 4 different ESPs

Platforms: Salesforce (27%), Mailchimp (23%), IBM (12%), Oracle (12%), Marketo (8%), Campaign Monitor (7%), then a long tail. ends with 10% using homegrown solutions

Interventions and Apology emails

Halted sends due to an error in the last 12 months: zero (32%), one (23%), two (18%), three (9%), four (3%), five+ (15%)

Apology emails: zero (49%), one (27%), two (14%), three (5%), four (2%), five+ (3%)

Last updated on 30th August 2018