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As a distributed team, one of the best parts of coming together during our retreats is simply being able to work together in the same room. It gives us an opportunity to take advantage of the spontaneous creativity, conversations and ideas that sometimes only arise when we’re co-located, chatting over breakfast or brainstorming how best to answer a customer support ticket. To capitalize on this and give it some structure, we have a hackathon – an activity that allows us to quickly and creatively tackle opportunities for growth that we see across our business. This year’s hackathon was our third. The theme?

“Let’s make customers’ lives easier.”

We also added a voting component so that the winning teams could win a cool trophy (and bragging rights) in the process!

The economically-named “Golden Rocket Pigeon of Victory” and the “Regular Rocket Pigeon Man of Almost Victory” – built by Paul!
With a bit of planning and pitching projects, the teams were able to get going on Day 1. We built nearly 20 prototypes and scrappy MVPs of internal and customer-facing projects. In the days and weeks that followed, we prioritized and put those projects into the product queue and have been bringing them to life.We’re now ready to start sharing the first releases!

Here’s a rundown of what you’ll see first, out of the gate, of our Chicago Hack Week projects.

What we built

In short, we worked on:

  • Tutorial videos which show, don’t tell, the power of
  • A CSV importer which makes it easier to add both people and attribute data to
  • An option to archive old Layouts, to help you stay organized
  • A Link Status Check tool for the composer to help you see if your links are working
  • Data interactives: see how to build messages with data
  • …and the ability to copy workflow items across workspaces and campaigns!

Read on for more! Academy

You can do a lot with, and learning about all these possibilities in our documentation can be overwhelming, especially for the new user. Until this hack week, most of our documentation was text-based (with the occasional gif).

The Academy project created videos to give everyone a new avenue for learning or leveling up existing skills!

So far, we’ve got video explanations of:

Importing People and Attributes via CSVs

“I want to upload a list of people with a CSV!” has been one of, if not the, most-requested features in, and now it’s here! Check it out:

We’re rolling this feature out slowly, but fear not! If you haven’t seen it already, it will be available in less than two weeks—it’s a big feature, and we want to make sure it’s just right before everyone can board the ship! (But if you really really want early access, get in touch!)

Archive layouts & The Link Checker

In addition to our hackathon, we also did all-hands support every day during the retreat– meaning, everyone in the company got together to answer support tickets that we received in the past 24 hours. These two projects were inspired by customer support requests that we encountered during support week!

Archiving an old Layout

We don’t let you delete Layouts that are being used by sent newsletters and campaigns that are currently running; but what if you don’t ever use that layout anymore? You could delete the campaign, but you don’t want to lose that data.

Good news! Now, you can have your data and keep your Layouts organized, too. We split the Layouts area into “Active” and “Archived” layouts: Archived layouts will be available for reference later on, and won’t show up in either Active Layouts or in the Layouts menu in the composer.

Link Status Check!

With one click on the Link Checker, you can see that all the links in a given message are working links — without having to click each one individual from the Preview or a test message. This way, you can quickly make sure that none of your links are broken and, if they are, quickly fix them!

Data Interactives!

Behavioral and event data is the straw that stirs the drink; we tell our customers this a lot and many of you experience this first-hand as you get up and running.

For those of you who are new to or need help showing other team members how behavioral and transactional data can power personalization within message content, we built some interactive examples for our website. These examples show you how your emails can change, becoming more dynamic and personalized, based on the data you send us. Check them out, and see the power of data in action!

Behavioral data

Transactional data

Copying workflow items

The hackathon winner! Having to manually copy message content or replicate whole campaigns is time-consuming and frustrating. After CSV uploads, adding the ability to copy workflow items has been on our to-do list for a long time.

Now you can copy individual or all workflow items (that’s messages, delays, attribute updates, and webhook actions) from one campaign into another. And that includes copying items across workspaces!

Unfortunately, the confetti isn’t included with the feature; that was just for the internal presentation.

This was fun!

We learned a lot from this hack week, and we’ve got even more improvements (not just features!) that we want to realize after some more iteration and thought.

Rest assured, though, whatever we do end up shipping from this hackathon or the next, our goal will always be the same: to make your lives easier and messaging to your customers better!