Gitlab hero border pattern left svg Gitlab hero border pattern right svg

Emails & Nurture Programs


This page focuses on emails and nurture programs, owned and managed by Marketing Campaigns. In pivoting to the FY21-22 Segment Marketing Plan, the Campaigns Team is heavily focused on building a key element to driving top-funnel demand generation: an "always on", logic-based and persona-driven nurture engine.

When our ideal state top-funnel demand gen nurture engine is in place, we will be able to provide the right offer to the right person at the right time - based on their placement in the buyer journey (lead funnel) and their areas of interest, and in some cases, their location.

Some key foundational elements to achieve this:

Holiday coverage for severity::1 security vulnerabilities email communication

In the event of an severity::1 (critical) security vulnerability email communication is needed during the holidays, please create an issue using request-email template and ping in #marketing_programs tagging @marketing-programs

Email marketing calendar

The calendar below documents the emails to be sent via Marketo and Mailchimp for:

  1. event support (invitations, reminders, and follow ups)
  2. ad hoc emails (security, etc.)
  3. webcast emails (invitations, reminders, and follow ups)
  4. milestones for nurture campaigns (i.e. when started, changed, etc. linking to more details)

Note: emails in the future may be pushed out if timelines are not met for email testing, receiving lists from event organizers late, etc. The calendar will be updated if the email is pushed out. Please reference the Marketing Campaigns issue boards (described below on this page) to see progress of specific events/webcasts/etc.

Email Marketing Best Practices



A/B Testing

Email Templates

What are email templates? An email template is a reusable HTML file that is used to build email campaigns (according to Litmus).

Why are email templates important? Using an email template allows you to produce campaigns faster, since the underlying code is already written. Instead of having to rewrite an entire email from scratch for every send, you can simply add copy, images, and links to an existing template before testing and sending it to your subscribers (according to Litmus).

What email templates are available for us to use? In Marketo (Design Studio > Email Templates), the following email templates are available:

Standard marketing campaign email templates

Other email templates (WIP) currently but will include notification alert emails.

If you don't have Marketo access and would like to see what the email templates look like, please view the project Epic and corresponding issues.

NOTE: It is very important that you format your copy to align with the design of the email template you're using. This will improve efficiency of building emails, and ensure copy is best fit to the layout.

What if I want a custom email template? You may submit a request for a custom layout, but please note that the critical priority currently is to efficiently launch emails and nurtures into market. In your request, please tag @nbsmith and clearly describe why the existing layout is not satisfactory, how often and broadly the requested template will be used, and quantifiable benefits we anticipate from the new layout. To reiterate: Upon implementation of the critical emails and nurtures, we plan to devote more time and energy to developing and testing new templates, however the launch of lifecycle emails takes precedence over these requests.

Ad-hoc (one-time) emails - requesting an email

Important note regarding audience segmentation efforts and efficiency

Until our foundational Marketo database segmentations (noted in the overview at the top of this handbook page) are rolled out, there are challenges in targeting audiences efficiencly. If you would like to propose an MVC email, please remember that the tactical execution may be beyond bandwidth constraints.

Email Request Issue Template


To request an email send, please open an issue for consideration of your MVC email idea, and provide as much detail as possible (especially around the audience), and please respect if the determination is that "the juice isn't worth the squeeze" and that we may want to delay the launch until some foundational audience segmentations are established. Please review the Email Review Protocol section below for more detail.

SLA: There is a standard 5 Business Day SLA in place for new email requests. All details in the "Submitter Checklist" of the issue must be complete in order to be triaged to the appropriate Campaign Manager.

*Urgent security emails are exempt from this SLA.

All links in email sends, going to will need to be appended with utm parameters, following the nomenclature outlined in this document. This is the way we track and give attribution to emails.

Need-to-know details for the email request

Below are the information from the issue template that will need to be filled out before the Campaign Manager will create the email in the appropriate system:

Types of email requests

Approvals and notifications for email requests

Marketing related ad-hoc emails are sent at the discretion of the Campaigns team.

Terms of Service or Privacy Policy updates that impact all users must be announced on the company meeting, in the #whats-happening-at-gitlab and #community-advocates Slack channels, and approved according to the table below prior to submitting the Email Request.

Support and Security emails sent to a small subset of users should be announced in #community-advocates and #support_managers Slack channels, and mentioned in #whats-happening-at-gitlab if relevant.

The approval table below applies to non-Marketing emails.

Users to be contacted Approval by
<1,000 reply-to owner
1,001-4,999 PR, reply-to owner, community advocate
5,000-499,999 PR, reply-to owner, community advocate, director+ in originating department
500,000+ PR, reply-to owner, community advocate, director+ in originating department, e-group member

Email review protocol

All Campaign Managers and reviewers should adhere to the following protocol for every marketing email that is sent to ensure brand consistency and quality in our email program.

We use both Marketo and Mailchimp to send ad-hoc emails. Marketo is the primary system for all marketing emails and the regularly scheduled security updates. Mailchimp should be used for emails to users as these users are not in our marketing systems (unless they have signed up for content). Examples of emails to be sent through Mailchimp: Critical security updates, support updates that impact a specific subset of users, suspicious account activity notifications.

Email Nurture Programs

Visualization of current nurture streams

Requesting to add leads to a nurture program

Note: in our future state nurture system, leads would be nurtured appropriately through logic based on:

These future state nurture programs will be aligned to Use Cases, with three streams to clearly designate the stage of the buyer journey (Awareness, Consideration, and Purchase/Decision) and therefore deliver content relevant to their stage of the buyer journey.

Interim additions to nurture programs (while future state and system requirements being built out)

While the future automated nurture system is in progress, to request to add a segment of leads to a nurture, please create an issue request for Marketing Campaigns. The campaign manager will assess the request and can add the leads to the proper stream via a 'Request Campaign' marketo flow step.

Current Nurture Programs

SaaS trial nurture

SaaS Gold trial nurture communication are sent via Marketo and Outreach throughout the 30-day free trial period.

Goal of the Marketo nurture: Educate trialers on key features within GitLab Gold SaaS tier.

Goal of SDR Outreach nurture: Qualify and meetings setting for SaaS Gold trialers.

» Email copies for SaaS Gold package trial nurture

Self-hosted trial nurture

Self Hosted Ultimate trial nurture communication are sent via Marketo and Outreach throughout the 30-day free trial period.

» Email copies for Self-hosted Ultimate package nurture

Integrated campaign nurtures


Process for bi-weekly newsletter

Open an issue using the Newsletter Request Template, including the newsletter send date in the issue title.

Epic of Past and Upcoming Newsletters

Creating the newsletter in Marketo

A day or two before the issue due date, create the newsletter draft. It's easiest to clone the last newsletter in Marketo:

  1. Go to Marketing Activities > Master Setup > Outreach > Newsletter & Security Release
  2. Select the newsletter program template YYYYMMDD_Newsletter Template, right click and select Clone.
  3. Clone to A Campaign Folder.
  4. In the Name field enter the name following the newsletter template naming format YYYYMMDD_Newsletter Name.
  5. In the Folder field select Newsletter & Security Release. You do not need to enter a description.
  6. When it is finished cloning, you will need to drag and drop the new newsletter item into the appropriate subfolder (Bi-weekly Newsletters, Monthly Newsletters or Quarterly Newsletters).
  7. Click the + symbol to the left of your new newsletter item and select Newsletter.
  8. In the menu bar that appears along the top of your screen, select Edit draft.

Editing the newsletter in Marketo

  1. Make sure you update the subject line.
  2. Add your newsletter items by editing the existing boxes (double click to go into them). It's best to select the HTML button on the menu bar and edit the HTML so you don't inadvertently lose formatting.
  3. Don't forget to update the dates in the UTM parameters of your links (including the banner at the top and all default items such as the "We're hiring" button).

Sending newsletter test/samples from Marketo

  1. When you're ready, select Email actions from the menu at the top, then Send sample to preview.
  2. Enter your email in the Person field, then in Send to you can add any other emails you'd like to send a preview too. We recommend sending a sample to the newsletter requestor (or rebecca@ from the content team for marketing newsletters) for final approval.
  3. When you are satisfied with the newsletter, select Approve and close from the Email actions menu.

Sending the newsletter

  1. When the edit view has closed, click on the main newsletter item in the left-hand column.
  2. In the Schedule box, enter the send date and select Recipient time zone if the option is available.
  3. Make sure Head start is checked too.
  4. In the Approval box, click on Approve program.
  5. Return to the newsletter issue and leave a comment telling requestor (@rebecca from the content team for marketing newsletters) to double check all has been set up correctly. Close the issue when this is confirmed.
Git is a trademark of Software Freedom Conservancy and our use of 'GitLab' is under license