Tag: best practices

Guide to a Better HTML Email Design – Part 3

2. Email HTML Coding Guidelines:

a. HTML Coding Do’s

  • Code HTML emails as a single Web page with the basic <HTML>, <HEAD>, <TITLE>, and <BODY> tags.
  • Code emails by hand where possible, as WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors typically add extra code that creates havoc with certain email clients. If you must use an editor, use Dreamweaver or Homesite, which do not add extra code to the design process.
  • Use HTML tables for the design layout.
  • Keep emails at a fixed width of between 500-620 pixels wide.
  • Instead of defining percentage widths use fixed widths. While this is not optimal, because people can and do resize their email windows when reading, sometimes using a fixed width is the only way for a layout to display properly in multiple email software.
  • Use only the ASCII character set. More advanced word-processing software often inserts odd characters, such as the trailing dot characters or smart quotes (curly instead of straight), which can hamper display or create delivery problems in some email software.
  • If you use CSS, include inline styles. Do not link to an external style sheet nor use embedded styles, as this code is often stripped out by email clients, creating display problems.
  • Make sure all tags have supporting closing tags. The most common HTML errors come from not having a closing </FONT> tag or having open <TD> or <TR> tags in the HTML. While your HTML might render properly in a browser, these errors can cause problems with many email clients.
  • Use the HTML table attributes within the TABLE and TD tags.
  • For example: to set the table border=0, valign=top, align=left (or center, if that is the design), cellpadding=0, cellspacing=0, and so on. This primarily helps older email readers to display the html email in a minimally-acceptable way.
  • Put general font style information in the table TD or DIV or P tags closest to the content. This can mean repetitive style declarations in multiple TD cells or DIV’s or P tag. Put font style definitions into heading (e.g. H1, H2), P, or A tags only when necessary.
  • Use DIVs sparingly to float small boxes of content and links to the right or left inside a table TD cell. Google Mail appears to ignore the CSS Float property but Yahoo! and Hotmail work fine. Outlook 2007 ignores floats.
  • Sometimes it is better to code a more complex table layout than rely on the Float property. Since email is easy to clutter, ask that the design put the floated content in the narrow side column. Floats are the one part of an email design that might require the design be reworked.
  • Animated GIF files are acceptable, but use them sparingly.
  • Use of images maps is acceptable.
  • If there is a spacing issue with the columns in the email design, first tweak the cellpadding and cellspacing attributes of the HTML tables. If that does not work, use CSS margin and padding attributes. HTML spacing works better with older email software than spacing with CSS.
  • If an image is cut up and spread across several HTML table cells, test the email with many test accounts. Sometimes it looks great in Outlook but shifts by 1 pixel or more in Hotmail and other services. Also consider putting the image as a background image on a new html table that encases all the table rows and columns that would display parts of your background image. sometimes this achieves the same effect as cutting an image up but with less code and better results.

 

Note that Outlook 2007 does not display background images. Be sure to test your email code with your target email client software.

  • If you use background images, use the HTML table attribute background= instead of CSS. It works more consistently across email software except Outlook. Define appropriate bgcolor for the TD’s so that the color is displayed when the images are blocked.
  • Be sure all your images use the alt tags, height, and width parameters. This helps with Google Mail as well as when a reader has their images turned off. However, Outlook 2007 does not recognize the alt= parameter.
  • Use the target=”_blank” attribute for the HTML A tags so that people reading with a webmail service don’t have the requested page appear within their webmail interface.
  • Avoid a big image above the fold in the email. This is another classic spammer practice and can increase the likelihood an email will be tagged as spam.
  • Make sure your email content displays fine without images.

For example: if you use a background image to provide a background color with white font color over it, make sure the default background color for that part of the HTML table is dark, not white. Also be sure your alt=, height=, and width= parameters are set for images so they can help readers understand your content without images. Turning off your images will help you catch these issues and ensure the HTML email will display effectively if people see your email with images off.

  • Test your HTML code. Make sure your code conforms to World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) HTML standards
  • When sending a multi-part message, remember to create the text version. Most email clients send HTML as a multi-part alternative by default. Failing to include the text part of the message can cause some filters to treat your email as spam.

 

b. HTML Coding don’ts

  • HTML should not contain any JavaScript or any other script embedded in it. Some email clients do not support JavaScript, and others view it as a security risk.
  • Avoid using CSS for positioning. The support is very limited and will, more than likely, result in a broken layout for most of your recipients.
  • Avoid nested tables if possible. Some email clients, especially Lotus Notes and Netscape Messenger, might not render them correctly.
  • Do not use canvas background images. Most email clients do not display canvas background images. Background images for individual table cells are generally acceptable but might not appear in some clients such as Lotus Notes.
  • Do not apply attributes to the <BODY> tag. Attributes placed in the <BODY> tag are often flagged by spam filters and increase the likelihood of your message getting bulked or blocked.
  • With multiple embedded images, which also might cause the email to be blocked
  • Do not use EMBED tags.
  • Avoid embedding forms, such as surveys, into emails. Some email clients such as Hotmail might not pass the data through to the collection point. Instead, link to a Web form through which the recipient can complete the survey.

 

 

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Guide to a Better HTML Email Design – Part 2

  1. Email Layout:
  • Determining the layout design. Single column and two-column layouts work best for emails because they control the natural chaos that results when a lot of content is pushed into such a small space as email. Use a consistent HTML template.
  • Add in a header that contains logo, view online links if the email is not rendered properly on recipient email client, instructions to add sender email id to recipients address book (improved deliverability), etc
  • Body or the main section that contains the main content of the mailer.
  • Footer – should contain unsubscribe, contact us and forward to friend links and sender’s general terms and policies.

 

You can notice the email layout in the images below from Target, a top retailer mailer from USA. The header has all relevant detail of add to address book for inbox delivery, view online version, brand logo, etc.

Email Header

 

The body of the mailer has a consistent look with a single column view, with a clear offer and an actionable main link. You can also notice actionable links to other categories of products on the retailer website. You would also notice more offers, clearance sales, and other attractive discounts at the bottom of the main offer.

Email Body

 

You would notice multi-channel contact points for engagement on other digital channels and fine print of offer details, etc.
Email Body - Social Media Links

 

You would notice in the footer below, all relevant details on why you are receiving this email, to opt-out from further communications, company policies, etc.

Email Footer

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Guide to a Better HTML Email Design – Part 1

Email marketing is one of the most powerful and effective forms of marketing today. It is quick to deploy, offers immediate and highly-measurable results, enables advanced segmentation and personalization, and delivers a high return on investment.

However, achieving maximum results from your HTML email requires experience and expertise. Simple mistakes in the implementation of HTML emails can seriously affect delivery or usability and cripple your ROI.

To help marketers optimize results from their email marketing efforts, Kenscio has created this complete guide to create effective HTML email. These technical and design best practices give marketers the ability to improve their own email marketing campaigns. This guide is best shared amongst email marketers and the HTML coding staff that supports your email development efforts.

In this guide we will cover:

  1. Email Layout
  2. HTML coding do’s and don’ts
  3. Validate HTML content and avoid using scripts
  4. Using forms in HTML emails
  5. Font and font size
  6. Color
  7. Background colors
  8. Font colors
  9. Buttons, charts & other supporting images
  10. Style sheets
  11. Images
  12. Image alt tags
  13. Creating a Web version of your email newsletter
  14. Preview panes and blocked images
  15. Number of hyperlinks
  16. Phishing and HTML Links
  17. Message file size
  18. Length of email messages
  19. Personalization
  20. Individualization
  21. Navigation of email messages
  22. Search capability in email
  23. Email format/Versions
  24. Add to Address Book
  25. Forward-to-a-friend functionality
  26. Rich Media/Flash
  27. Video email
  28. Tips Email Deliverability to Inbox
  29. Five common flaws that you can avoid in Email Marketing Campaigns

Everyday we will cover the above topics in details. Keep visiting the Kenscio blog to learn in depth of each topic.

Your feedback and comments are most welcome!

Happy Reading!

@Kenscio Email Design Team

Copy rights to articles on Kenscio blog reserved. Any article from Kenscio blog can be reproduced by providing credits to Kenscio or providing a link back to Kenscio blog.

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Why Customer engagement with your email marketing campaigns is very critical?

Email marketing is a lot more like dating..

If you offer attractive benefits, then the relationship is on, but if you don’t, the subscriber will cut you off. Whether it happens immediately or over a period of time, the primary goal for marketers is to pique subscriber interest and get them heavily engaged with your product and service.

So, how committed are you to developing a solid, long term relationship with your subscribers?

Marketers define engagement by how active their subscribers are, as well as interaction with their marketing efforts. Marketers can measure engagement through things like opens, clicks, and conversions. For marketers, high engagement means their marketing efforts are working which translates into higher ROI.

Engagement is great for marketers to measure how effective their programs are, but honestly ISPs don’t care how many clicks or conversions you get.

ISPs only care about their users – which happen to be your subscribers!

Their primary goal is to make email enjoyable and useful. The #1 concern with email users is subscriber fatigue. We get so much email that we can’t keep up with it all.

We also get a lot of spam, which is the largest obstacle for ISPs. ISPs do block a lot of spam.

Microsoft received 8 billion email messages per day. Out of those, 90% are spam.

Now, the ISPs do a pretty good job of blocking spam, but some legitimate mail does get caught by spam filters (less than 1%). Even though ‘less than 1%’seems like no big deal, it also means that around 55 million legitimate messages are still getting caught. ISPs like Microsoft are now focused on reducing that number and making sure that people get all of the email they want.

 

Measuring Engagement

Currently there are only two webmail providers that are using engagement metrics, Hotmail and Gmail.

They don’t care how well your marketing program is working. They just want to know what email their subscribers want, and which subscribers they can trust for feedback. Meaning – marketers won’t be rewarded by padding their lists with inactive addresses to keep their complaint rates low. The ISPs give more weight to trusted subscribers. They know those subscribers are active and real people.

There are three main factors that Hotmail considers when defining subscriber engagement.

  1. 1. Messages read, then deleted
  2. 2. Messages deleted without being read
  3. 3. Messages replied to

This individual analysis overrides global filters, so your emails may land in the inbox of one person, but get delivered to the spam folder by default in others.

Gmail recently released their Prioritized Inbox to help their users sort through all the clutter.

Google Prediction attempts to predict what is important to a user based on their actions. Like Hotmail, it will look at things like how often, or not, you read messages from a particular sender. Gmail also looks at the types of email you ‘star’, whether it’s addressed directly to you or not, and how the user ranks its importance.

Gmail Priority Inbox Layout

This is what Gmail Priority Inbox looks like

 

To most marketers, this looks like bad news.

  • How on earth will we know where our email gets delivered now, if they’re using subscriber level filtering?
  • What do I need to do to make sure my email gets priority and is delivered to the inbox?

Don’t despair! A lot of the things you are doing now will still work, but there may be some things you will need to start doing.

 

Seed list monitoring is still important!

You will hear a lot of nonsense that “seeds don’t work anymore.” This is not true at all. Seed lists measure how you are performing against the global filter. It’s also still important to track your reputation.

Monitor your Reputation!

Reputation is still main driver for determining default mailbox placement.

Reputation consists of:

  1. Complaints
  2. Unknown Users
  3. Honeypot Addresses/Spam Trap
  4. Sending Infrastructure
  5. Sending Permanence
  6. Subscriber Engagement
  7. Content

Ignoring its importance can land you in trouble!

 

Complaints are still important to measure and reduce..

The ISPs will be calculating complaint rates based off of active subscribers instead of total volume sent. Therefore, you may see an increase in complaint rates, even though the total number of complaints remained the same. You should continue reducing complains and begin to dig deeper into the reasons WHY your subscribers are complaining.

Common factors for complaints..

  1. Lack of permission or disclosure at the point of email collection
  2. Mailing too frequently
  3. Content isn’t relevant or what was expected

Analyse the data points you currently have to find those trends.

Things you can do.

  1. Remove dead addresses
  2. Win back inactives, before it’s too late
    1. Subscribers who are ignoring your emails are soon lost to you – recapture them before it’s too late.
    2. How often should you remind subscribers to stay active? It depends on mail type and frequency, but generally if subscribers are ignoring your emails for a quarter, it’s time to take action.
    3. Win-back strategies are no longer something you should think of once per year. In order to optimize deliverability, senders should implement a strategy to win those inactive subscribers back.
  3. Re-engage the dead ones
    1. Some marketers re-permission subscribers that didn’t previously re-engage with their win-back campaign. This type of action will trim your list of dead addresses which include spam traps and unknown users. It will also help remove complainers.
  4. Manage Frequency
    1. A key reason subscribers complain and unsubscribe is because they goo much email from us.
    2. Frequency testing – you could look at response rates to figure out the optimal frequency. But a really simple way is to use some data that you already have – complaint data. You can also look at unsubscribe rates or simply ask your subscribers the exact frequency in which they would like to receive email from you.
    3. People complain the most after 1 email indicating an issue with the sign up process, then really start complaining after 15 messages or so. After 43 emails, people lost interest. What does your complaint file say?

 

 

 

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Best Practices on Constructing an Email Newsletter and Improving its Performance

Here are some great ideas to improve your email newsletters for better performance.

 

Subject line: Use concise subject lines, emphasizing the recipient’s benefit and prompt him/her to take action. Personalization and Individualization with Title, First Name (or Last Name), City, Login Id or Email Id will also greatly benefit.

Editorial for your readers: According to a recent survey, subscribers are engaged more by newsletters with an editorial, than a newsletter without a proper introduction. Another positive effect of the editorial is that you can highlight particular elements of your newsletter to your audience

Directory for a better orientation: If your newsletter consists of several articles, then a link directory is essential. This way your recipients can reach the article they are most interested in reading with one simple click. But make sure you don’t over burden them with too many articles.

Add to address book: Benefit from the positive effects an attractive image can bring you by ensuring that all images and illustrations are directly shown to your subscribers by simply asking your readers to add your email address to their address books. ISPs provides greater deliverability of your newsletter by directly putting them in the inbox of the recipient bypassing spam filters and enable images in the newsletter automatically.

Opportunity to subscribe: If a person receives a forwarded newsletter he/she should immediately have the opportunity to subscribe, so make sure you offer the possibility to subscribe after the obligatory unsubscribe link.

Show the recipient’s email address: State the recipient’s email address to raise the credibility of your email and facilitate readers who receive your newsletter several times to subscribe with the right email address.

Link to profile data: Your recipients should have the chance to update their profile. That way you are you able avoid unnecessary unsubscriptions.

Link to View Online link: Provide a view online link for subscribers whose email servers blocked the images, so that they can visit the landing page directly through their browser.

Engage with your audience: get people encouraged to share travel reviews/ advices / tips / pictures. Offer free reward points for people who help friends and family sign up for our newsletter.

Enable Social Media links: get your subscribers to interact with your social media accounts and share it with their networks.

Enable Forward to a Friend link: get your subscribers to share the email newsletter with their friends and also to invite them to join the newsletter subscription.

Take advantage of every single touch point: Think about every way you can increase subscribers, taking advantage of every contact you have with your customers and prospects. Have a subscription box on every page of your website; at events or in-store promotions ask if the interested person would like to receive the newsletter and preferably obtain permission there and then; add a footer to all staff emails; promote the benefits of signing up by enhancing the subscription value with customer testimonials and offering incentives for sign.

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7 ways to increase your email campaign click rates

After working hard on your email campaigns, you want to make sure that people read it and click the links inside. In this article, you will discover 7 ways to help improve the click-through rate of the links in your email message.

Have you ever received a direct mail letter that asked you to put a big “Yes” sticker on the offer letter and return it? If you returned the letter, they know there’s a good chance you’re interested in the offer. The “Yes” sticker is just to get you involved.

Email marketers can use this idea, too, for maximum success in your opt-in email marketing campaigns. Placing links in your marketing is one way to get your audience to interact with your message. It also helps deliver your audience to your website.

Read the entire article at Kenscio’s website http://www.kenscio.com/resource-center/7_ways_to_increase_your_click_rates.pdf

 

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Guidelines for Email Design – Create effective HTML Emails keeping current best practices in mind.

Guidelines for Email Design – Create effective HTML Emails keeping current best practices in mind.

Long gone are the early days of HTML email marketing, when we could just drop one big graphic in our files with an image map defining the different areas the graphic would link to. Over the years, as a range of email readers multiplied with varying support for graphics, and spammers abused the support of imagery, the rules of using graphics in HTML emails have changed considerably.

Read the entire article on Kenscio website at http://www.kenscio.com/resource-center/Guidelines_for_Email_Design.pdf

 

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