The From Line

Sending, Managing & Monetizing Email

Gmail Themes - more potential rendering issues

I came across this one and it seemed good enough to share, I hope Pivotal Veracity adds Gmail Themes to their rendering testing offering soon:

"The introduction of Gmail Themes-which allows users to change default background, text and link colors in their inbox-has made it even more difficult to code HTML emails so that they render consistently in Gmail. The problem arises when subscribers use certain Themes and marketers don't define the color of every background, text and link. Under certain circumstances you can end up with light text or links on a light background, or dark text and links on a dark background, making the email difficult or impossible to read.

For instance, here's a Nov. 21 JC Whitney email viewed in Gmail with the "Classic" theme (top URL) and the same email viewed with the "Contrast Black" theme (bottom URL):

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_y48VWOPr6lU/SStz_B7JLBI/AAAAAAAADHE/I_YdmiHdikY/s1600-h/112108+JC+Whitney.jpg

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_y48VWOPr6lU/SSt0UUvFXfI/AAAAAAAADHM/J1zvJkWoHEs/s1600-h/112108+JC+Whitney-black+background.jpg

 In this case, the preheader text and product names disappear (because it's black text on a black background) and the vertical navigation menu becomes practically unreadable (because it's yellow links on a light blue background). So what was a well-designed email with a good balance of images and HTML text is now partially illegible.

Based on the findings of the 2008 Retail Email Rendering Benchmark Study, my estimation is that approximately 40% of all retailers have the potential to be significantly affected by this rendering problem.

The solution is to define all your background, text and link colors."

 

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Email Rendering in Outlook 2007: What a Pain!

Anyone that has Outlook 2007 on their PC has definitely caught themselves saying “Hmmm…something doesn’t look right here.” Why, you ask? Well, it’s simple.
 
The Internet Explorer-based rendering engine that has always been used for viewing email, has been replaced by Microsoft Word. While Microsoft Word was used for composing email messages in Outlook, the end result of this switch was a major discrepancy between how an email looks in creation and how they appear once received in the Outlook inbox.
 
As an email service provider, we feel it’s our responsibility to discuss the limitations imposed by Outlook 2007 since many of our clients are using that platform.
 
Here is a detailed list of commonly used elements that are NOT supported by Outlook/Word 2007:
 
    * Background Images (HTML or CSS)
    * Forms of any type
    * Flash or other plugins
    * CSS floats
    * Replacing bullets with images in unordered lists
    * CSS positioning
    * Animated GIFs
 
So what does all of this mean for you – the email marketer? It’s pretty much guaranteed that unless your emails are extremely simple, you will run into problems with Outlook 2007. One solution would be to reduce the complexity of your HTML design to accommodate Outlook’s limited display capabilities for the time being.

If all of this techie “mumbo-jumbo” is leaving you completely confused, keep these few things in mind.

  1. Do NOT panic! Your entire contact base is not going to switch to Outlook 2007 overnight. You have plenty of time to strategize and revisit your email designs.
  2. You will still be able to use your brand and “design” in your email design; you may just have to jump through a few hoops to get it right.
  3. If possible, try to get a trial of Outlook 2007 installed where you can do some testing.

 
Designing emails for effective rendering across all of the widely-used email programs may require more time, resources and strategy but it will prove to be worth the while in the long run. Most ESP’s (including Gold Lasso) offer cost effective solutions to assist in rendering optimization and testing. For more information about these solutions or rendering optimization, please contact the Gold Lasso client support team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Pre-Fab Email Templates Suck! Here's Why

If you're a marketing manager for a mid-sized company and insist that your email service provider offer you a bunch a pre-fab templates you're lazy and should be fired! Pre-fab templates were great back in the day when email marketing was novel and a limited number of marketing mavericks experimented with the medium however the day of pre-fab templates for real marketers has come and gone.

Just think about it, email service providers that push pre-fab templates such as Constant Contact or iContact cater to hundreds of thousands of tiny companies sending to millions email recipients. Since there is only a finite number of templates that these email service providers offer, this means that a large number of companies have the same look and feel to their email marketing efforts without any differentiation to cut through the clutter. If you're a marketing manager at a mid sized company do you really want your email marketing to look like Joe's Bicycle Shop down the street? What if your boss subscribes to Joe's Bicycle Shop email and you unknowingly use the same template? Do you think you'll have your job for long?

I know lifting and plagiarism are common practices among marketers but for G-d sakes don't copy something that's sub-par and meant for people lacking creative abilities. And if you are a small company that's serious about its email marketing it doesn't take much these days to create a professional looking custom template. Any graphic design student at your local community college can create something far better then what an email service provider will give you. Remember, benchmark the best not crap!

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Five Tips for Writing Better Messages

The technology to deliver e-mail marketing campaigns is better than ever. The success of the campaign, though, is still only as good as the content that the message includes. Follow these tips for improving your copy.

  1. Know your audience – good marketing is all about knowing what the audience you’re trying to reach will react to. The goal of the message, and the text within the message, is to achieve a reaction from the reader. To achieve that reaction, you need to know what the reader’s wants and needs are. In most cases, the marketer can make some assumptions about the reader by looking at demographic information. Find out what the audience’s likes and dislikes are and tailor your message accordingly.

  2. Include a call to action – messages should include an action step for the audience to complete. It might be to make a purchase or complete a survey or simply to visit a particular Web site. Whatever the action is, it should be clear and easy for the reader to complete.

  3. Keep it short and sweet – don’t ask that your readers go through mountains of text to reach the information they want or need. Anticipate what it is that they want or need and give it to them. No one has time to read through long messages, nor do they want to.

  4. Write, review and revise – a common mistake for marketers is that they write the message and send it out, ignoring the two last (and arguably the most important) steps of the process. Write your copy and take a step back from it before you review it with a fresh eye and make the necessary revisions.

  5. Consistency in marketing is essential – if you don’t have a set of key messages that you draw from, create one today. Key messages are short statements that convey the most important elements of your company/organization or campaign. All marketing copy should include the key messages. The goal is for the reader to see the messages so they reinforce what it is you want them to do.

Writing e-mail copy that conveys a consistent message and encourages the reader to act is an art. With these easy-to-implement tips, you can take your message text to the next level.

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Rejuvenate Your Email Campaigns

If the email component of your marketing plan is in a rut, it’s time to rejuvenate your campaigns. Here are four ways to bring some life back into your messages.

Engage readers by asking them to respond to a poll or survey. Every once in awhile, it’s important to give your readers a way to participate in the message and the organization by including a survey or poll question.  It’s also a beneficial tactic to give a snippet of information to readers. It’s not a scientific study, but you’re not claiming it is.

Design a new template. It’s important to stay consistent with the visual brand of your organization, but don’t shy away from altering the HTML template to attract the readers’ attention.

Add some personality, don’t just personalize.  Personalizing a message with the first name is pretty standard in this day and age, now it’s time to add some personality. Professional, compelling messages don’t have to be devoid of humor, voice, and a unique tone.

Split campaigns – if you’re not doing them, it’s time to try now. If reporting metrics are okay, but not great, try creating split campaigns for you next message and break outside your marketing mold with creative content and a strong call for action.  The results may surprise you.

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The Email Monetization Playbook
Email Monetization Playbook
69 Must Scan Pages For Publishers!

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Email Monetization Playbook
69 Must Scan Pages For Publishers!