The default setting in almost all email client software is to suppress the display of images. This means that the recipient will need to make a conscious decision to enable your HTML in all its glory before they see the fruits of your many hours of labour. Even worse, if you are sending to web based email clients such as Hotmail, it is likely that the recipient will first have to mark your email as 'Safe' and then move it to their inbox before the option to display the content is even presented to them!! Based on this knowledge, here are our top three things to think about when designing your next HTML email.
Test Your Email "Naked"
As we all know, first impressions count for a lot, so always make sure that the first time you see your email design the images aren't included. After all, this is exactly what 99% of your recipients will see when it hits their inbox. If the copy in your template isn’t strong enough to stand up on its own two feet the propensity for recipients to opt to enable the rest of your HTML content will be low. Your campaign open rate is generated by the image download, so you will have a big impact on the success of your campaign if the most compelling message in your HTML isn't in your written content.
Design For Preview
Now that you have a proof of your HTML design with no images, send a test copy to your own inbox. It is highly likely that you will have an active preview pane in your email client and even if you don't have one yourself, according to the 2005 EmailLabs study around 70% of your recipients will. And this data was recorded before the introduction of a preview facility in clients such as Hotmail and Yahoo. It is therefore imperative that you can capture the attention of your recipients in what has become the prime position in your email template. Time to have a bit of a rethink before copying the banner from the top of your website and pasting it into the top of your HTML email, because, as we discussed earlier, no one is going to see it!!
Get recipients away from your email. We all know that HTML email design can be problematic. The rendering of your design may differ greatly for each recipient depending on the email client they are using, and the issues above show that a large proportion of your content may not display at all. Our top tip then is quite simple, design your email to encourage recipients to get away from their email client and into a browser based experience (whether this be through the use of landing zones or into your corporate website). Once in a browser your creative juices can really begin to flow!! Copy can be image heavy, laden with media clips, Flash and Java script and nearly every recipient will see all of your content 100% of the time. Better than this, you will have captured the fact they have clicked through and therefore recorded their interest.