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The Litmus-Microsoft partnership and the future of email- our Interview with Litmus’ CEO

Author's avatar By Robert Allen 05 Sep, 2016
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We interviewed Paul Farnell, CEO and Co-founder of Litmus about their new partnership with Microsoft

If you work in email marketing you may well have heard of the new partnership Litmus have just announced with Microsoft. Because it's such a big industry first, we talked to Litmus' CEO to find out more about the workings of the deal and how it will affect both email marketers and the future of email itself.

Congratulations on the new partnership with Microsoft, can you give us an idea how this will affect how email marketers use Litmus? Will Litmus’ capabilities be changing?

Thank you! We’re very excited about the partnership and anticipate some great work with the Outlook team. There will not be any differences in how email marketers use and test in Paul Farnell Litmus. The goal is that when viewing an Email Preview of an Outlook client, incidents can be directly forwarded to Microsoft from Litmus. We’ll be adding an in-app feedback loop that customers can use to report problems in Outlook. Through the direct, in-app feedback loop, the Litmus team will triage the bug reports and work with Microsoft to prioritize. Our hope is that the more participation we have from the email marketing community in identifying rendering issues for Outlook, the easier it is for the Outlook team to prioritize key problems and develop solutions.

After we took investment last year, we’ve been able to take on larger problems for email marketers. Exciting things are happening for Litmus, and we’re eager to make some new announcements about capabilities in the coming months.

Working directly with a major email client is a first both for Litmus and the industry as a whole. Do you think this signals a wider change where email clients start to engage more with email marketers, or are Microsoft just an exception to the rule?

The partnership is huge for everyone involved in the email community. Now that we’ve established a relationship with Microsoft, we’re hoping other email providers will follow in their footsteps. We’re always open to additional partnerships that will help the email marketing community evolve and advance towards making email better.

Will rendering issues with older Microsoft email clients be addressed (e.g. older versions of Outlook) or is this just a deal where issues are addressed with new Microsoft email platforms as they are released/updated?

Caitlin Hart, Program Manager at Microsoft: We are seeing tremendous growth of Office 365 subscriptions, which gives users the latest and continuously updated versions of Office apps, including Outlook. As users on older versions of Outlook upgrade, the number of versions of Outlook email developers need to target will become much simpler. We also have consolidated Outlook.com and the web version of Outlook in Office 365, which reduces yet another separate version. We’re looking forward to when all of our users can enjoy the latest, greatest, and consistent, Outlook experience as easily as they do for the versions of Outlook that are updated through app stores.

According to your email client market share statistics, Outlook and Outlook.com are number 6th and 7th respectively. All the top 5 positions are taken by either Apple of Google owned clients. Do you have plans to develop similar relationships with these email clients in the future?

Our partnership with Microsoft is a huge step for the email marketing community, and now that an open relationship has been established, we hope other email providers will follow suit. We are always open to discussions with any webmail, mobile or desktop email software providers. If and when other partnerships take place in the future, we’ll always share the news with the email community.

Now that you have the partnership in place with Microsoft, you’ll be in the know about any new Microsoft email client updates. What is the best way for email marketers to stay up to date with these? Will you be releasing them publicly or will only Litmus members be finding out?

When any changes or updates are made to Outlook email clients, we will be the first to announce the news to the email community. In order not to miss any Outlook updates, users will want to keep an eye on the Litmus blog, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to email updates.

What Microsoft email clients will the new rendering bugs feedback loop feature work for?

The feedback loop will help identify rendering issues and bug fixes for Outlook on Windows and Mac, Outlook.com, Office 365, the Outlook app for iOS and Android, as well as Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mail.

As more users move to Office 365, the number of versions of Outlook email developers will test in will become much simpler. We also know that Microsoft has consolidated Outlook.com and the web version of Outlook in Office 365.

It’s a big deal getting such a major email client to work with email marketers for the first time. How did you get talking to Microsoft and was there any particular factor that convinced Microsoft to break the habit of a lifetime and start engaging with email marketers?

We started conversations with Outlook last year, but things really began to take shape in early 2016. That was when we were able to get a good idea of what to expect from a partnership and how Litmus could help the Outlook team. One of the reasons Microsoft looked to Litmus is our relationship with the email community. Since Litmus’ inception, we’ve focused on having truly authentic conversations with customers. That includes genuinely empathizing with the people we are creating tools for. We wholeheartedly supported the Email Standards Project’s effort from 2007 to 2010 to create email coding standards. We even had a small hand in getting AOL’s Alto Mail app to support responsive design. Simply put: Our customers want better email standards, so we do, too. Our success has made us a leader in email creation, testing, and analytics, as well as a trusted source within the email community.Our cause has always been to “make email better.”



Author's avatar

By Robert Allen

Rob Allen is Marketing Manager for Numiko, a digital agency that design and build websites for purpose driven organisations, such as the Science Museum Group, Cancer Research UK, University of London and the Electoral Commission. Rob was blog editor at Smart Insights from 2015-2017. You can follow Rob on LinkedIn.

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