When I conduct email campaign reviews for my clients, I repeatedly discover the same errors. The following are the most frequently made errors when coding HTML emails:
1. Designing your message with a WYSIWYG editor.
While you can design an attractive message in DreamWeaver or FrontPage, how will it look as an email message? WYSIWYG editors generate code that is frequently unclean and can wreak havoc on your layout when displayed in various email clients. If you intend to send HTML email, you should familiarise yourself with the language to ensure your code is clean.
2. When working with images, use relative paths.
It is critical to pay attention to this if you are using a WYSIWYG editor. The majority of WYSIWYG editors will create a relative path for your images automatically, referencing the graphic from your C: drive. Regrettably, when you view the message on your own PC, you will not notice the error because the image will display correctly. Ensure that you use absolute paths and that the image is accessed via your web server.
3. Inappropriate CSS usage.
Numerous email clients support only a limited amount of CSS, and the majority will not reference an external style sheet. Additionally, due to the fact that some clients ignore head tags, all styles should be defined below the body tag. Complex CSS constructs, such as div positioning, should be avoided. The best results are obtained when CSS is used inline and sparingly.
4. Scripts, videos, ActiveX controls, and so on can be embedded.
Email clients do not handle embedded objects due to security concerns; instead, they display the object as a broken image. And Outlook 2007 will completely ignore the object, so your reader will be unaware it exists. A fantastic workaround is to take a screen shot of your object and link to the online version.
5. Ignoring the text version’s coding.
Even if your subscribers request an HTML version of your newsletter, it is critical to create a Multi-Part MIME. HTML-only messages are regarded as spam by some email clients (even f they display the HTML version). They look for a Multi-Part MIME and penalise the message if the text version is missing. Additionally, if your reader is checking his email on his PDA, the email client will almost certainly default to the text display.
6. Using an excessive number of images and insufficient text.
It is critical to maintain an appropriate text/html ratio to avoid triggering spam filters. And never, ever, ever create a message that is entirely comprised of large images, as this is a surefire way to land in the spam folder.
7. I am not responsible for the preview pane’s coding.
Over half of your readers will view your message via the preview pane, and if it does not appear to be interesting, they will likely never open it. Keep your message’s most compelling content at the top.
8. Insufficient testing.
It is not sufficient to send yourself a test copy of your message. You must test on a variety of platforms and with a variety of clients.
Time required to implement: While designing, testing, and implementing an HTML email message does take time, the increased conversion rate is well worth the effort. In my experience, it takes about three hours to reach the point where you’re ready to hit the send button.