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From July 12th, 2021

So, what is a Really Good Email anyway? Doug & Friends x Really Good Emails

Live text. Accessibility. The original Star Wars trilogy. These are just a few things that inspired the vision behind Really Good Emails and sharing our love for great email designs with the world. Matthew from our team sat down with Doug Dennison, CEO of MailNinja and Owner of Chimp Essentials, to chat about pizza, whales, the infamous Really Good Emails submissions queue, and the inspiration behind RGE.


Doug Dennison: Hi everybody and welcome to another episode of Doug & Friends with me, Doug Dennison, and my special guest today is the CEO of Really Good Emails, Matthew Smith, aka Whale. Thank you for joining me.

Matthew Smith: I feel like I need to make some kind of weird whale sound now, but yeah, it's good to be here.

Doug Dennison: You are briefly going to have to try to explain to people listening what the whale thing is all about. You did tell me before but just go for it in a nutshell.

Matthew Smith: Well, I've been around in design for about 16 years and one of my first forays into that world was I owned a design studio called Squared Eye. The character for that brand was this cute whale that if you are on a Dribbble or Twitter or Instagram, with a caveat there, I'll tell you in a minute, but basically, I have the username whale all over the universe as often as I can get it.

I switched from Squared Eye to doing some other things, but I kept the whale. At the time I knew all the right people at Twitter, Instagram, and some of that stuff, so I snagged this kind of cool name and it was fun. The interesting part of that is that I've now had three severe hacking attempts because of having that name so I don't recommend having a cool OG name. It's a pain in the ass and somebody is doing a story on the most recent one because it was pretty gnarly. Somebody started sending me endless pizzas to annoy me and threaten me and my family. They sent it to my parents, to my ex-wife, to my kids, and all these things to create a maelstrom of pizza that you pay for upon delivery so that I would give up the handle.

Doug Dennison: Wow.

Matthew Smith: Yeah, so that's a whole other story, but just a warning to everybody else, stay away from the OG handles. Your john25holidaytrip69, whatever your handle is, that's awesome, stick with it. You get no pizza.

Doug Dennison: That's bizarre. So when a new platform, I mean, we won't go too much into this, but when a new platform launches, are you straight on there, making sure that you just get whale, on the off chance you might want to use it in the future?

Matthew Smith: If it has any legs or if I'm interested in it. I recently started switching to, wherever dots are available because that's a site that I'm going to launch. You know, I'm 42, almost 43, and the social game isn't very interesting to me anymore. Primarily, I hang out on Twitter and that's a really good place for me.

The dopamine hit from a "like" isn't like it is on Instagram, the ads are better, and the community is better. I'm five years alcohol sober this June, and so anything that even smells like addiction, I don't like it, it doesn't feel right. I stay away from that kind of stuff.

It's fun to be on the internet. Most of the friends that I know now, that aren't in my community here, are friends who became real friends through starting as Twitter friends or forum friends, et cetera. It's even one of the things that I love about Really Good Emails. We've developed a community of people, or maybe the community was there, and we're a rallying group. The Email Geeks community is awesome. It's so similar to the early web and things are hard, it's hard to figure out email, it's hard to figure out design, it's hard to know how to use the tools, so there's a lot of banding together and it's just awesome. I'm stoked to be a part of it.

Doug Dennison:: Yeah, that leads me into one of my first questions. What was the idea behind Really Good Emails? What was your motivation? Why did you do it in the first place?

Matthew Smith: The background starts with another site that I built probably close to 10 years ago now, it was called Pattern Tap. I had been taking screenshots of headers, footers, articles, lists, link styles, and all kinds of design patterns. I was keeping them in Flickr. At the time, when Flickr was really big, I had all these folders or collections in Flickr. Then, Flickr introduced analytics and it was nuts to see how many people were accessing my Flickr collections of these different patterns. It even got some tweets from some very well-known designers, like Khoi Vinh who helped design the New York Times as you know it and see it now, and another woman named Verla Peters, who is a well-known designer. 

I just kind of blew this thing open and I spent a bunch of my time designing a new site. I spent a lot of barter hours having a friend of mine build the site and I sunk so much time into this thing. Then, I was able to sell it, but only for about $25,000. That was like, “wow, lesson learned.” I dumped all this energy into it and that's what I got out of it, but I was well known for it. I made it on the web by getting known for that. 

Fast forward, maybe five years, and I had led creative at a couple of different startups and I had been very involved in helping our customers get connected with the brand, the product, et cetera, and that meant touching email. However, I was consistently surprised how much of a second-hand experience email was getting in terms of a product getting all this attention and detail, and then it was usually a secondary thought, “Oh, what do we do with the emails? I don't know. Let's get a marketing agency to just do them for us.”

I couldn't believe that because the customers were getting exposed to emails, at least as much as the actual product, if not more. So I thought, “Oh, this isn't right. Well, let me go see what's out there.” I looked at “best welcome email,” “really good onboarding series,” “triggered emails,” and was looking up things because I didn't know what I was doing, I'm just a designer. I wasn't finding a great set, it was hard to find. Since I knew enough about how Pattern Tap worked and how that attracted users and the model there was an advertising model, and so I said, “You know what? I bet you, I could do it a lot easier these days.”

I took about 10 or 15 emails and I stitched them together in Photoshop. I put it up on a WordPress site that I grabbed off a template and within about a day I had the site, I had the URL, and I wrote my friend Mark DiCristina at MailChimp, and I said “Hey dude, I think this site needs to be a thing. What do you think about MailChimp sponsoring it for like $1,500 bucks a month?” I was going for it, that was way above what I thought I could get. He just sent me this reply with the GIF from Jerry McGuire where it said “you had me at hello” and so I was just psyched. I couldn't believe it. 

Right away I realized I didn't want to stitch all these emails together, this is going to be crazy, this takes way too much time. Immediately I worked out an arrangement with really my first contractor who's still working with us, her name is Chin, and she lives in the Malaysia area. I found her on or Upwork or something, but she's become a real part of the team and we get to know her and her story. Until we got the technology to not need stitching together she was doing all of that for us. It was just a fun way to start it. 

Then, from there I put the product on a tool called Assembly, which was a way to collaborate on a project across borders. That's where I met Mike Nelson and Matt Helbig and they joined the fray and started adding to it. We started having our own email newsletter, which seemed appropriate. These days, I think we're up to about 7,500 or 8,000 emails. We reject probably 90% of what we receive, which doesn't feel great. I don't love feeling like I'm rejecting people's submissions, but we have a high standard of what we think makes a really good email and we try to maintain that. 

Now we're working on some things that will hopefully be revealed this year to show people what we've been working on. More or less, we're trying to be in that space where we're serving people to help them strategize. For example, if I'm strategizing on an email series, I'm going to to find out what people are doing for welcome emails. What are they doing for their onboarding? What are people doing or our competitors doing for retention? I'm able to get a lot of, not just a good design example, but also I can read the copy and see the strategy. I can go and see the code and see how they're handling unique display types. I could even grab that code, go pop it in a text editor, and then change things to make it my own. 

We just tried to create a space where there was more transparency around emails, where on the web, you get to see the web, you have a URL that you can go to that website, and then you can right-click “view source” and see how the code was built. That’s the transparency and beauty of an open-source language like HTML and CSS. Why shouldn't email be like that? That was our effort, it's been fun. 

We've had UNSPAM now for 2 years. We’re probably not doing anything this year because of COVID, we barely skirted by before COVID hit last year. It's been fun to bring the community together and not just around email, but around our shared humanity within the email space, believing everybody's doing the best they can, wanting to explore diversity and equity among the community. It's just been a neat experience.

I'm glad to do it. Many days I feel burned out, but I guess I should say this is a side project. Not one of us is full-time. Sorry, that's not entirely true, we just hired one full-time developer to work on our new stuff and that's our first time doing anything like that. Most of us have made very, very little money off of the project because we've poured it back into UNSPAM or supporting the community or trying to build the product, which is challenging when you have six people that are full-time on other jobs and doing this on the side, but it's been worth it. 

It's neat to see people benefit. I think email is one of the most important channels around, there's so much opportunity to treat customers more personally, more effectively, and gain their trust and give them things that matter to them through a medium that is more conversational than one-sided, the way a website is. I get excited about it.

Doug Dennison: Yeah, I mean, it's great. I'm a fan of Really Good Emails and we have a board on there. We showcase emails there as well. It’s great and if you haven't gone to it's a great resource.

So you reject a lot of emails that are submitted there, right? What are your criteria for a really good email or what is it you're not looking for? Only because if anybody's listening, they know when they're submitting, like, “alright this is what these guys are looking for”. What makes a really good email?

Matthew Smith: It's a good question. Thing one to throw out there would be, I think most recently our current queue of email submissions is something like maybe 600, and so I apologize in advance for the people who've submitted and had to wait. We have so many submissions to work through and again, we're all part-time so it's a challenge to work through them, but thank you for submitting them. 

What we're looking for first and foremost, is does the overall design and experience serve the customer? Right? That's what we're going to lead with. That is intuitional, meaning I'm not necessarily the customer, so I don't know, but I've been in design for a long time and I have good intuition about this so I'm using that. Some of those things that do serve the customer are appropriate text sizes across mobile and desktop. It has easy scanability, an email needs to have what I like to play, something called design golf, that I talk about on some of the other podcasts, interviews, and things I've done. 

The idea is when you're creating a design, in this case in email, every time you add a difference, a different button, a different color, a different line, a different bit of topography, like a plain text email with no links is zero points, that's the base, and every time you add another point, you need to make sure it's doing a job. Generally speaking, most email designs are not at the level that the current web is at, like good web design, and we need to keep upping that. As you use one strong, clear bit of topography, let's say Helvetica 18 point regular, and if you decide you need to make your headings different, that's appropriate, but they need to be doing a job. It needs to be probably bold and bigger to do the effective job of helping people scan through the email. If it's not, then it's not doing its job. It's a heading, but it's almost a heading by name and not effect.

Those are the kinds of things that we're looking for. Other things include, does it have live text, we're going to generally value emails with live text over image text when we can. Some emails are so wonderful that if they have image-based texts, they make it through. My heart dies a little bit every time that happens, but whatever.

It’s looking at accessibility, it's looking at does the email do its strategic job? Meaning is it showing somebody at the top of the email, what the job of the email is, and how it is serving the customer? “Hey, here's this sale, here's exactly what's on sale, here's exactly how much it costs, here's what you do about it. Would you like to learn more? Here are three sub-points and another CTA.” That kind of patterning helps the person be able to get the information they need and then go to the sale. Things like that.

The reason we reject most designs is they're too busy. They're chaotic. There’s not enough white space between sections so it's hard to read and scan. They have broken parts. Sometimes, if there are too many grid alignments, meaning if you have a left alignment, and then there are three or four different left alignment points instead of a clean line all the way down, that causes a lot of cognitive dissonance for the viewer where they're having to jump around. Things like that we markdown. It adds up. 

The ones that make it through are good examples for you to look at. See what about them helped them get through and mimic those.

Doug Dennison: Yeah looking around, not necessarily on Really Good Emails, but I get a lot of emails myself and sometimes you look at an email and go, “That is a beautiful email. That's great. I can see from a design point of view, that's an amazing piece of art”. However, effective email sometimes isn't the most beautiful-looking thing.

Do you balance between design and effectiveness? Do you try to balance the two things there? Because obviously, you can always tell when an email has been designed by a non-email professional, completely in Photoshop, and then they slice it all up and put it all together and it's all images. It is completely design-focused. It may look beautiful, but it is not very effective. You must balance between the two I'm guessing.

Matthew Smith: Yeah, we're bringing our experiences. We talk a lot about this as a team. We have several people on the team that have all done email from different perspectives. Some of us are marketers, some of us are hands-on, heads of email programs, and some of us are designers like myself. Our unique perspective is that there is no not design. You're either coming to an email and creating an aesthetic that serves the customer or you're not. We probably lean toward the idea that aesthetics should not be left behind.

I know some emails are very performant because they're a little bit predatory, they prey on people's fear of missing out or some needs that maybe aren't being met. I think we're not trying to support some of those. We're looking for emails that balance performance and design. Obviously, we can't know how well an email performed. Wouldn't that be a nice superpower, but we don't have that so we're using our best judgment. 

I do think we're not going to be able to cover everything. Can you imagine if we tried to capture emails that we thought were ugly, but probably performed well? Where would we put them? We've thought about that a lot. I think our unique perspective is that it has to make it in the design door and then we evaluate performance as important, but secondary. That's just our unique perspective. Believing that design softens the customer's experience in a helpful way and aids the performance or aids the strategy in being performant.

Doug Dennison: Okay. I'm guessing you're the recipient of a lot of emails yourself, right? 

Matthew Smith: You have no idea.

Doug Dennison: What drives you mad? What mistakes do people make over and over and you think, why are you doing this, you should know better?

Matthew Smith: Most people make emails far too complex. They're working way too hard on them because of that. The amount of effort that I know goes into some of these emails with just an incredible level of complexity, that's unnecessary. This idea of design golf again, is how do you get down to what I would call a minimum viable email and reducing the number of differences down in your email to the smallest possible version? It makes your email so much more essential so that the customer can effectively look at the email, know exactly what it is trying to do, and then solve it.

The other thing that I think often gets missed is copywriting. I feel like very limited, simple, but good design with great copywriting is going to win all day long and just do fantastic. There's great stock photography out there that you can use, especially from Unsplash or things like that, but great copywriting, you can't make that up. It's not just fun copywriting, it's copywriting that does a job for the customer that serves them, that understands them. 

Lastly, when you can do custom photography, even if it's not perfect, your phone can take awesome photos if you get some methodology or some small training to see how to create great product photography. 

Sorry, my dog is growling at me. We've got people working on our deck outside, so she's been inside. 

Doug Dennison: Part of the modern world.

Matthew Smith: I think if you can do photography that's not stock it's been proven that it converts better and it can be effective, again if it's done simply. Generally, I see most people adding far too many things to emails and they're making them too complex.

Doug Dennison: Yeah, I completely agree with that. I think it comes back to that whole adage of newsletters are dead. Because, if you think of the traditional way people did email years, years, and years back where they would wait to send a monthly newsletter, cram all of their stories and their features in the press, and all the kinds of traditional newsletter things a company would send out every month. 

However, nowadays, it's moved more towards smaller, shorter, simpler messages, a lot more frequently, more personalized, targeted, and the thought that less is more when it comes to email. Less copy, less imagery, and just focusing on one message. It drives me mad when you see an email and there are about 10 different things in there, 10 different products, 10 different messages, and calls to action. I think if you can simplify that and boil it down, that's 10 emails. Spread them out and send 10 emails for 10 different messages, rather than one email with 10 different messages in one email. That's what we try to encourage.

Matthew Smith: A lot of email marketers think, “well, how do I do this? How do I create the right email series that people are going to like?" Well, I like to think about this relationally and I've given talks on this that I love giving because it’s about relationships and understanding, empathy and personal relationships, and relational dynamics, it’s such interesting stuff, but it's stuff a lot of us intuit. 

If my girlfriend were to tell me, “Hey I'm exhausted from work. It's been a rough day”, but then if I came to her and said, “Hey, what's for dinner?” That would be like you're an asshole, and I wouldn't need to know that. Instead, I know, okay, girlfriend is tired, rough day. I have a couple of options; I can ask her, where can I get takeout for you, where can I take you out to eat, can I make you a nice meal, or would you like to zone out and I'll leave you alone for the night so you can decompress? That's investigation. I'm getting to know her needs, but I'm being attentive to them. 

When we do that with our customers and we think about who our customers are. What are they going through? What is sucking in their lives? What is going great? Then, craft your message to that reality. It's not very difficult. It takes a couple of people just being slightly empathetic to be able to figure out that these long emails we've been sending are probably pretty taxing to the moms that we have as our primary audience. Maybe we should interview some of our customers and find out what content is doing it for them. Oh, it turns out one simple tip, three times a week, extremely simple, is the magic sauce for this group. Then, that's a very clear call to action on what to design and how to develop it and et cetera.

If you think about all these things much more relationally, I think that gets interesting. For example, the emails that you were doing a while back that were so great about the email tips. I can't remember the exact name that you all had for them, but I just thought they were amazing because from a customer point of view they were getting out of the way. They were solving some interesting education problems. However, meeting me in my busy day and not giving me this exhausting 20-minute article to read, helped me get educated in snacks rather than a five-course meal. Stuff like that. 

Doug Dennison: It's about serving the person you're sending to, it's about serving your audience rather than your agenda.

Matthew Smith: Exactly. 

Doug Dennison: Okay. Are there any hard and fast rules in creating emails that work, that are effective, that are really good, or is it always context-dependent, depending on the person you're sending it to, your message, the goal ultimately? Are there things that people can take away and go, “I'm going to apply this now to my emails because I know that’s what's going to work”?

Matthew Smith: It's a good question. I think there are some standards that are appropriate. First, there are the things to not do, which have to do with ethics and other things. I won't cover that in my answer, but I think people need to be ethically responsible.

Then, you’ve got to be responsive. You need to make sure your email is viewable on a mobile or there's a high probability that it could fail because of how many people utilize mobile email. Outside of that, I think the essential standard is it's a little bit like, we were talking about this the other day, the product that we're working on right now for Really Good Emails, our motto internally is it has to be better than copy and paste and copy and paste works very well. It’s pretty straightforward, super standard, super simple, get out of the way, so our emails have to be better. A designed email has to be better, not in a light way, not in a superficial way, than text email. Sometimes text email is the way to go. 

If your message, if your design is not quantifiably more effective at serving the customer than a text-based email, then maybe you should look at text. I think it's a subject line drawing them in using something that serves them through either giving them information or piquing their curiosity, and a pre-header that amplifies that, or gives a little bit more information. Then, creating the top part of your email that is clear and precise, and then going from there.

Doug Dennison: Yeah, I think it's kind of what you were saying. What you've touched on previously is that people get hung up and focus on the wrong things. They get focused on spending hours on structures and complicated layouts and fancy designs, when really simple wins.

As long as it's focused on the person you're sending it to, make it simple. Don't get too complicated, but focus on the right things. Don't get focused on complicated structure, but instead focus on effective copy, making it original. Don't just copy and paste it from your website, repurpose it for email so it's effective. 

Matthew Smith: Yeah, that's exactly right. 

Doug Dennison: Cool. Okay. All right. In terms of structures and layouts and things, I always favor simple as well. I always look at emails on Really Good Emails and whenever we are designing an email I don't say, “Look at what we did six months ago”, I always say, look at Really Good Emails. See what people are doing right now. Look at the bigger brands. Look at what they're doing, because these people are split testing everything. They know what's working, they’re ultra optimized. A lot of them structurally, when you go into the code, strip out the images and hide the images. They are so simple in terms of structure, a lot of them are one-column layouts. I always favor that as well. 

Do you think a simple one-column structure works better?

Matthew Smith: Back to your question about context, I think it depends. There are types of content, Pinterest might be a good example, where if all of the images from a Pinterest email came in as one column it would be sort of exhausting because I would have such a long email. When I have an array of photos, for instance, it can be helpful to have multiple columns. 

Generally speaking, the traditional width of an email at around 600 pixels with a reasonable body copy of somewhere between 16 to 20 is a really nice way of receiving some pretty straightforward content. Plus, if the typography is well taken care of, then getting your message in front of the person so that they can read it quickly, scan what's interesting, and be done, or, take the necessary action; I find single-column to generally be the most effective. 

Some of the most standard-looking designs are consistently some of my favorite and easiest to read. For example, I think Everlane kills it at this from an e-commerce perspective, just really elegant, super simple emails, easy to read, et cetera. I think from a newsletter perspective, if you look up MailChimp on Really Good Emails, you'll see they have a long history of just a great job of sending out email newsletters in one column that just read clean and simple. Some of the designs in there I got to design with them, which was fun.

Then, I think Postmates has done a great job, and Unsplash does a great job as well. Recently, I've been impressed with Zapier, some of their latest work. Framer does a great job at that. It's a style, but it can be adapted to any kind of brand. I find that an email, generally speaking, and you need to know your audience, but generally speaking, it is not a place where people want to read long-form emails. They want to get in, get out, and move on with their day. 

The difference between one column and two-column is you're adding complexity, not just two different places to look, but visually you end up having more borders, and every time there's a little bit of a border, there's a difference, and a little more visual noise. You've got to make sure that that's doing a job, not just a neat layout.

Doug Dennison: Yeah, we create templates for people and sometimes templates can be quite restrictive so you end up using the same kind of layouts for all of your emails. However, I always recommend that you have five, seven, nine different modules so that you can mix them up. 

You mentioned a few brands that you, what is it that you like about them structurally? Have they got a similar flow and feel throughout all of their emails or do they kind of mix it up each time? 

Matthew Smith: It's a good question. These emails that I'm interested in, generally speaking, have a strong design pattern or a strong design language. They use consistent sizes for headings, they use consistent sizes for body copy, they use consistent layouts for imagery, they have consistent ways of displaying links, et cetera. It creates a visual pattern that the user can then easily go through, and see, read, and doesn't need to rethink, “What is this?”, each time they see it. 

A lot of times I see designs come in where there's a different color for each section of heading and there's different types of CTAs, et cetera. What you're doing there is you're ruining any potential design language. A design language is, when I see a red sign that's octagonal with white letters in the center, it means stop. Honestly, it could be written in Arabic and I would know that means stop. That patterning in our emails and our designs is and should be, the same or similar to what's on the website that you're working with. It is a way of creating a communication language so that people can more rapidly ingest what it is you're trying to say. My favorite emails are consistent in that way while allowing for variation from section to section.

To your point, having modules is a great way to build what I would call an email design system, where you have components and each time you make a change to the headings, then it adapts across all the headings, across all those components. Then, you can have these different types of components that serve different purposes and mix and match them on different kinds of emails. 

Doug Dennison: We've talked a lot about email design and Really Good Emails. I'm just going to turn this over to you because we will go through the quickfire questions that I ask everybody to wrap things up.

The first question and you've had these in advance so you've been prepped, you should have some answers prepared for this. What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

Matthew Smith: I would tell my 16-year-old self you're doing a great job. You're doing the best you can. Life is going to be super challenging, but you're up for it. I would probably tell my 16-year-old self if there's any way you can avoid alcohol, do it. 

Doug Dennison: It’ll take you years to get over it.

Matthew Smith: Yeah, I'm not neutral on the alcohol story. I could go on and on about it, but I think the biggest thing is I would just try and encourage myself that you're doing a great job. Life is challenging and I think we need a lot more encouragement. I needed that when I was 16 and I'm proud of the work that young guy did, he was killing it.

Doug Dennison: Yeah. Would you have listened to yourself? That's the other question. 

Matthew Smith: F*** no. 

Doug Dennison: I wouldn't have either.

A second one, what is the best advice you ever got?

Matthew Smith: This is an interesting one. I think the best advice that I've ever received has come through, and I'm sort of beating this drum, but through my recovery work. The work that I've done is about learning to let go.

One of the things that I've learned as somebody who's trying to run a company, run two companies actually. My main thing is I run a design studio called Bunsen where we do creative for biotech and life sciences companies, and it's incredibly rewarding. I do that and Really Good Emails. 

While running Really Good Emails, one of the best pieces of advice that I've ever heard from a therapist was, “the amount of control you try and maintain in life is directly commensurate to the amount of suffering you experience”. They're proportional. Because of that, I spend a lot of time looking at what I'm trying to control and observing that, and saying, “Is that something I can let go of?”. Doing that over the last five years has dramatically increased my joy. That's probably one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received.

Doug Dennison: Cool. Okay. The third one, who inspires you and why?

Matthew Smith: The people that inspire me, honestly, are the people in India right now who are suffering through COVID and figuring out life with very little resources and figuring out how to love each other despite that, and show up for each other.

I have enormous admiration for people who suffer and take that suffering and let it soften them. I have heroes, like these days my spiritual mentor is a woman named Tara Brock, and she doesn't know she's my spiritual mentor, but I love her podcast and I love what she does. I learn a lot from people who've suffered well and have let it turn them into people of compassion. Those are the people I look for in my life. 

Doug Dennison: Okay. Slightly lighter one, what is your favorite album of all time? I'll go for a song if you haven't got an entire album.

Matthew Smith: No, consistently I come back to Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins. Yeah, for me it was like 1994, I think maybe 93 and the, “Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known.”, just gave me chills. It's just so damn good. Whenever I need to wake up and just feel like today is going to be insane, it's going to be so good, I just start blasting that whole album. It’s that and Blood Sugar Sex Magik by Red Hot Chili Peppers is my style.

Doug Dennison: It’s their best album. We're a similar age and you've had the same musical experience as me growing up. The whole ’90s was just a wash of great music. 

Matthew Smith: Yeah, agreed. 

Doug Dennison: Cool, last one, what is next for Matthew Smith? What's the next thing you're working on?

Matthew Smith: For me, growing Bunsen, my design studio with one of my best friends, Michael, has just been an incredible joy and Really Good Emails is in a great spot. What we're working on is the idea of being able to allow our users to collect and share emails the way that we already do, internally, and strategize and communicate about them with their teams. We're excited about where we're heading with that and that just gets me excited. Getting Bunsen moving and being able to work with science-oriented clients who are changing the picture of health and wellbeing in the world is incredibly meaningful for me.

I realized through a lot of personal work, obviously that I've been kind of talking about on the show here, how important it is for the next 30-40 years of work to be meaningful. For me, I worked hard on figuring out what it is that I'm about and I landed on this phrase, “I design relationships between people and organizations that drive human positive impact”. That is what Matthew Smith is here on this earth to do and so I'm pursuing that. Some days that means design, some days that means taking my kids out to Wendy's and getting a Frosty and just trying to listen to their days.

I'm having a good time. I'm grateful to be here.

Doug Dennison: Yeah, good. Matthew, thank you very much for your time. This has been great. Where can people sign up, hear about you, find out what you're up to? 

Matthew Smith: I think is always a good place to kind of see what I'm up to and keep up.

Obviously, check out, where you can get a ton of inspiration about how other companies are doing emails and then use those as a guiding light about how you can make your emails. Sign up there and start collecting emails. You can also find really good emails on Twitter at @reallygoodemail because we ran out of characters. Can't do that on Twitter. Then, I’m on Instagram as well. Yeah, sign up for our newsletter where you'll get a lot of great information and updates on what's happening, best emails of the week, those kinds of things. Great article curation. 

Be good to each other. That's a real hope for me and what we're putting out in the world. 

Doug Dennison: Good. Lots of positivity. Thank you very much, Matthew, and thanks for being a guest on the show. 

Matthew Smith: Yeah, it's great to be here, Doug. Thanks so much for having me and keep up the great work, man. 

Doug Dennison: Thank you very much.





CEO at Really Good Emails. CEO at Fathom & Draft. I love to hustle and have fun. Ask me anything. Have a great day.

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