Things to remember when creating HTML emails

There are a number of things to remember when creating templates for HTML emails, and I’m going to try and go through a few of them with you, the things we’ll cover are:

  1. Remember not everyone uses Outlook
  2. Remember the reading pane and preview
  3. Send a text only to gain greater audience reach

Ok so let’s run through these in some more detail.

1. Not everyone uses Outlook

An important thing to remember when creating your HTML email is that there is a large number of email clients that you will need to test on to make sure that everyone can read the information in order to get your message across. Some of the more popular email clients are Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, Outlook (& Outlook express), AOL, Mac Mail, Thunderbird, Entourage and Eudora. Because of the various rendering differences in these clients you are unlikely to get your email looking exactly the same in all of them. It can also be a time consuming job to test in all these email clients but the payoff is worth the hard work considering that the person receiving the email could be your next client.

2. Remember the reading pane

When you are reading your emails, be it in Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo etc do you open the email full screen? More than likely you are reading it through the preview pane. This means that when the user clicks on your email it’s likely that only the top 500 pixels of the email can be seen. It is therefore important to use this valuable real estate to get your message across.

If possible it is better to avoid using images in the head of the email as they won’t be automatically downloaded unless the sender is on your safe list. Using images means that the impact made by those first 500 pixels will be limited because it relies on a user action (downloading the images) before it can be seen.

3. Send text only to get greater reach

With the advent of the web being viewed on mobile devices we mustn’t forget that users are likely to read their emails on the move. An easy way to cater for several types of viewers is to send a multipart message whereby there is a HTML version sent as well as a text only so that covers all. The content can me exactly the same but you will just have to remember that any images that have a call to action will need to be changed into text links in that version.

The other advantage of sending a text only version is that it becomes more accessible to users that only use screen readers for example, there is much less information for the screen reader to get through in a text only version.

We’ll be following this post up with some more detailed information about creating HTML emails in the coming weeks but if you need any more information please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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