More NewsStudy: HTML E-Mail Has Hidden Danger

Study: HTML E-Mail Has Hidden Danger

A new report says the top e-email programs poorly render many HTML marketing e-mails.

E-mail marketing company Silverpop Systems announced the preliminary results of a study that found the most popular email programs did a poor job handling HTML emails, possibly presenting a roadblock to a fast-growing segment of the email marketing industry.

The Atlanta-based company’s study, which viewed 700 HTML marketing messages in nine of the most popular email programs, found that 42 percent of the messages were rendered improperly, with 13 percent being unreadable or containing “extremely disruptive errors.”

“Many email marketers we work with are not aware of the challenges and opportunities around HTML emails,” said Bill Nussey, Silverpop’s chief executive.

The biggest problems arose in the business email program Lotus Notes 5.0 and AOL’s versions 4.0 and 5.0. In these two programs, which represent a combined 77.5 million users, nine out of ten HTML emails contained disruptive errors.

Much of the errors, Silverpop found, were the result of improperly formatted HTML messages. Kent Allen, an Aberdeen Group analyst, estimates that properly formatted HTML messages can drive response rates from 10 percent to as high as 40 percent.

With a much higher success rates than text emails, HTML marketing messages have been growing swiftly, both overall and as a percentage of the email marketing industry.

According to Jupiter Research, which is owned by IAR parent company Jupitermedia, HTML-formatted messages will make up 42 percent of all email marketing messages this year, an increase from 31 percent last year. By 2007, Jupiter forecasts HTML messages will make up 59 percent of email marketing.

The new version of Microsoft’s popular Outlook email program has e-marketers concerned, because it ends the process of previewing HTML emails, in the hopes of cutting down on a popular method used by spammers to verify email addresses. Many industry watchers predict the move will drive down the open rates email marketers report to their clients.

Silverpop plans to release the full report next week, at the online advertising industry’s @d:tech conference.

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