Email Templating: Disaster of the Century 2009

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Facilitated by Margot Brennan and Suzi Grishpul, Radical Designs

Let's share best practices for building HTML email templates that look good in every browser and email client.... let's face it: tonight we're gonna code like it's 1999.

Session Notes

WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get) sucks

Looking for resources for help, guidance and best practices

Tools for testing your email in different clients at the same time:

MailChimp Campaign Monitor

-Charge you about $5/run to give you screenshots of what your email will look like in different clients/browsers

Best practices of "what should a good email template look like?" change over time

  -used to be that complicated templates with images and links were what people wanted
  -Now more and more people are pushing toward simplicity

KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid

You can't test for EVERY permutation/combo of client/OS/browser so you need to PICK YOUR BATTLES

There isn't a tool out there yet that knows you're creating an EMAIL specifically and thus helps you with email-specific issues in your HTML

A lot of email newsletter-ing and blasting is managing the expectations of your recipients

One strategy is to create a separate template for a specific domain (a template to send to all Yahoo! users, for example)

How to avoid spam?

  -make contact with black listing organizations proactively BEFORE you're flagged as spam so that they can notify you

A good security measure is setting up an SPF record in your DNS setup

"Spam" is a relative term (spam to some people is worthwhile email to others) much of the time

The "Click Here to View in a Browser" link is important in a web-based email client world and a good catch-all for client-based viewing problems.

Many times simpler email templates give off a more personal sense but branding is important and can lend a professionalism to messages. Important to realize that these people signed up for your emails so they want your content, but not annoyances including visual annoyances.

Examples of clean email templates:, 1Sky

Good things about email newsletters:

  -Some people can have a commercially viable medium with email

At the end of the day, giving people content that they want from YOU is what it's all about. Don't let the design get in the way.