Ten HTML tips for e-mail. Ignore them at your peril.
Does your email newsletter contain a text link that directs readers to a Web version if they can’t read the content in their email clients? If you don’t, you should. But that alone won’t absolve you of the sin of bad HTML design.
In the days when primitive email clients (like early AOL) routinely chewed up HTML, linking to a Web version was your only defense. Today, just about every email client can properly render HTML. But you must still format it correctly. Linking to a Web version without correcting malformed or nonstandard HTML is the lazy marketer’s way to deal with HTML that doesn’t properly render.
Besides, bad HTML is only part of the problem. Now that major desktop and Web-based clients for both business and consumer recipients use image blocking and preview panes as default settings, that link may not even appear if you drop it into a single, large HTML image.
As we’ve noted before, you should design the top three to four inches of your message with text and HTML that tells readers what offer or content they’ll find below. This encourages them to turn on images and take the desired action. Otherwise, they may just delete your message without reading it, particularly if all they see is a big, blank white space.
The list below identifies 10 common HTML tips. Compare it to your own HTML before you send your next campaign or newsletter.
Ten HTML Tips: Ignore at Your Own Risk
Test, Test, and Test Again
It’s the same old song: test your message multiple times before you send it. It’s critical with HTML, partly because it’s so easy and low-tech to do on your own. Check with your email service provider to see if it can do this for you, or contract with a third-party service. Perform the following tests:
You can find more advice in our earlier column, "Seven Steps to a Better Template."
Take the time to do HTML right, if you want to keep on deliverin’.
Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.
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As director of ISP relations and delivery, Kirill Popov creates and enforces strict usage and anti-spam policies, maintains ISP and community relations, and oversees all abuse and policy investigations and inquiries for EmailLabs clients. Kirill works with clients on best practices, content, design, and list hygiene to minimize potential delivery issues. He's a registered member of the SpamCon foundation and representsEmailLabs on AIM's Council for Responsible E-Mail.
Loren McDonald is vice president of marketing at e-mail marketing automation company EmailLabs, overseeing corporate marketing activities and client consulting services. He has 20 years experience in marketing, consulting and strategic planning. Earlier, Loren was founder and president of Intevation, an e-marketing services firm specializing in e-mail and SEM. He's held executive marketing positions at companies including USWeb/CKS (marchFIRST), NetStruxr, and Arthur Andersen.
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