Gator Mail Hints'n'tips April 2007

Please check out the Communigator file manager here for load of usefull things to steel.

1. Take advantage of the preview pane

Always include preview pane friendly code in your designs, this uses basic HTML to render colour, branding and information before the email has even been opened.

2. Code emails by hand if you can
Programs such as Word / FrontPage are not ideal for designing HTML emails, because these "WYSIWYG" editors typically add extra code that causes havoc with certain email clients. Although CommuniGator cleans this code when pasted into your design, it is better to have an HTML programmer code your email template by hand to keep it clean. Otherwise, use programs such as HomeSite or Dreamweaver and remove any unnecessary code by hand.

3. Do not use canvas background images (they don't display in most email clients) and have always been a problem with Lotus Notes. Now Office 2007 uses Word to render email this is more of a problem.
See January’s hints & tips

4. Avoid pixel spacer gifs - pixel spacer gifs are used to force widths in table data cells to aid formatting, spammers use them, so you shouldn’t.

5. Avoid using Cascading Style Sheets
CommuniGator does support CSS but, as far as best practice is concerned, inline styling is a better option. Your designs will be delivered exactly as they should be. CSS on a Website can simplify the coding process and ensure a consistent style, but in HTML email, they can cause incorrect rendering in some email clients or simply get stripped out or overwritten. CSS can still be used in all its glory on landing zones.

6. Keep HTML emails from 500 to 650 pixels wide
HTML messages that are wider force the recipient to scroll horizontally to see the whole message.

7. Validate and check your HTML content - using the Validate HTML button built into CommuniGator you can quickly validate your email design code ensuring its conformance to W3C recommendations and other standards. CommuniGator has a spam checker allowing you to check your content before you send your campaign.

8. Avoid scripting in your emails
Do not use scripting in your email designs, take advantage of the built in functions of CommuniGator. Save any bespoke scripting for your landing zones, including Java Script.

9. Link to a Web version and text version of your email message
This benefits recipients whose email clients don't render your email properly, no matter how carefully you format it. To create a link to a copy of your email just simply link to landing zone ‘0’. As CommuniGator is capable of sending a 2 part Mime message don’t forget to include a text version with your design.

10. Use image alt tags
These show one or two words describing an image or an action when the image doesn't display because of slow loading time or default image blocking.

11. Use horizontal layout rather than vertical
This allows readers who scroll down in the preview pane to see more content in the pane. Eliminate story layouts and "skyscraper" ad formats that are more than the pixel equivalent of 4 inches deep.

12. Don’t overuse HTML functions
Keep the use of HTML functions to a minimum, for example, layout items such as layers are a bad idea. Don’t use any scripts in your emails other than the built in CommuniGator functions.

13. Personalisation
It is always a good idea to personalise your emails. ‘Custom Links’ enables you to merge data into your designs.

14. Text Version
Always include a text version of every email that you design, CommuniGator will automatically send a 2 part MIME message, if the HTML version is blocked the text version will be delivered in its place.

15. Good subject lines
Writing subject lines for promotional emails and newsletters is made much harder by the huge amount of spam sent on a daily basis. More and more people are becoming less and less patient when it comes to scanning their inbox.
You need to write a subject line that appeals to your readers and immediately lets them know that your email is not another piece of spam. Using CommuniGator’s ‘Custom links’ you can personalise your subject lines.
Many thanks for reading, we welcome your feedback: Submit a topic for the next bulletin (end of May)

Email marketers face consumer wrath

I said something along these line back in February - when I stated that due to the stronger reaction from recipients and email hosts - acquision email campaigns (cold emails) along with the buying of data may well be no its way out. Mainly due to consumer reaction, which will govern the way the ISPs react to sending servers and email addresses.

Business has always included cold calling or prospecting.
How do you know if a potential customer is interested if you never ask?
You would never know if you did not ask, and like cold calling, email is another tool in the sales kit.
Consumers are wise to this, and the days of the email sales pitch for legit marketing may be numbered.

...whole story here

E-mail marketing continues to hit home with shoppers, new study says

E-mail marketing continues to hit home with shoppers, new study says
Online retailers have good reason to continue to love e-mail marketing, says a new report from Forrester Research.
Today the average click-through rate for an
e-mail campaign is about 5% - the same rate as in 2003, says Forrester.
But e-mail recipients also are web retailers’ best customers. Consumers
who buy products advertised in e-mail spend 138% more than typical
non-readers and more than 50% of consumers who open and read e-mail
marketing messages also are likely to purchase other items on impulse.
“47% of consumers who think e-mail is a
great way to find out about new products or promotions are willing to
pay a premium for products that save them time and hassles,” says
Forrester analyst Shar VanBoskirk in the report “E-Mail Marketing Comes
of Age.”
The report also finds that three in five
customers who forward e-mail ads to friends are women and that younger
shoppers ages 18 to 34 represent one-third of all consumers who
maintain a discrete e-mail address for promotions.
“E-mail has reached almost universal penetration—97% of consumers and 94% of marketers use it,” the report says.

Email marketing company sees multi-channel future

Ryan Allis, CEO of Broadwick Corp, which markets IntelliContact, and
other email marketing programs, says the future of Web marketing is
evolving into “a multi-channel world.” That means companies will want
tools that not only handle email marketing, but also blogs, RSS feeds,
and cell phone communications

...whole story here

ESPC - email behaviors of todays consumers survey

Consumers Savvy About Managing Email According to ESPC Survey Results; Embrace Numerous Tools and Methods to Manage Spam Reporting and Unsubscribing.

- 90 percent of panelists stating they would appreciate having an
"Unsubscribe" button directly in their email program

- and 80 percent
wanting access to a "Report Fraud" button

- Senders should ensure they are recognizable in the "FROM" and "SUBJECT"
lines of their emails, given results indicating that 80 percent of
panelists do not open an email prior to using the "Report Spam" button.

- In addition, trust in "Unsubscribe" links is high with 80 percent of
panelists using them; half of these respondents click on them even if
they are unfamiliar with the sender.

View the survey summary

Download the Executive PDF


Consumers Are Savvier Spam Defenders Than Previously Thought

The survey,
conducted in December 2006 by marketing research firm Ipsos for the ESPC, found that 73 percent of respondents have used e-mail for six or more years and over 80 percent check their e-mail at least once per day.
It also found that the majority of respondents will report a message as spam based only on the information available in the subject line and sender's address, according to Trevor Hughes, executive director of the Email Sender and Provider Coalition.

Another interesting finding of the study:

The ESPC originally assumed that large numbers of recipients were using the “report as spam” button to unsubscribe to legitimate marketers. However, that was the case for only 20 percent of messages studied, said Hughes. Regardless, he believes the survey is a call for greater tools to be made to consumers
...whole story here

Email marketing specialist Pure is eleventh fastest growing new media company in UK

Email marketing specialist Pure ( is the eleventh fastest growing new media company in the UK, according to Media Momentum’s Top 50 awards announced in central London on Tuesday night.
...whole story

Lask of Passion in the Email Industry?

Provoking words from email insider:

The article "A Lack of Passion" basically said:

"Why are the SEO guys and the RSS guys so passionate about what they do?
Maybe because it seems so cutting-edge. Maybe because they’re not
embarrassed to say what they do at a cocktail party.

But at some point we need to declare proudly: "I'm an email marketer. I drive business forward."

We need to recast how we view ourselves. Email requires dedicated,
passionate people involved in it, because like or unlike SEO, it is
rocket science. There is a lot to know, technically, creatively, and
intellectually. And we need to believe that what we do is actually a
good thing"...
this was followed was followed by

the article "Passion Redux" which was a follow up as the first article received so much attention from the blog sphere...

It's not quite as interesting but worth a read after the friost one none the less...

...check it out here or above

Email Stat Center

Email Stats Center is a collaboration between Brightwave Marketing (Atalanta, USA) and the Email Experience Council.

It is full of Statistics about email marketing - mainly US based obviousely but usefull none the less


...whole story here
...and here

A prime example of Transactional and dynamic content emails

-- March 26, 2007 -- Responsys, a premier provider of on-demand
email and marketing automation solutions, today announced that Intrawest
Corporation, the world leader in experiential destination resorts, is
successfully using Responsys to drive bookings and loyalty by delivering a
more relevant experience to potential, new and repeat resort visitors.
Visitors to many of Intrawest's eleven North American mountain destinations
-- including Whistler Blackcomb, Copper Mountain and Winter Park -- now
receive highly personalized emails providing vital information on the
resort location, nearby airports, check-in time, lesson packages, rentals,
snow conditions, and weather reports. Hardcore skiers and snowboarders can
also receive immediate notification automatically triggered by prime snow
and weather conditions. the whole story here

Double Opt-In Face to face sign up

Voltimum has received its third award in less than a year, this time
coming from a prominent marketing group in the US, MarketingSherpa Inc.

For those who send emails after trade shows to all the prospects who stopped by their display stand, MarketingSherpaVoltimum's winning creative samples.
suggests 'definitely taking a look at

MarketingSherpa says it 'loves the personalisation (especially the

photo of the actual booth rep spoken with) and the request for
permission. This firm doesn't assume that just because folks gave booth
staff an email address it means they want to get email. This is a style
of double opt-in (sign up at the booth and confirm via email afterward)
that US firms should copy'. High praise indeed.... the whole story

HTML Email Rendering in Outlook 2007

From Bambi...

HTML Email Rendering in Outlook 2007

Traditionally it has been easy for designers to get their HTML email rendered correctly in Outlook, the dominant desktop email client. Unfortunately this is about to change with the release of Outlook 2007.

Previously Outlook has always utilised Internet Explorer for rendering the HTML but now Microsoft have decided to utilise Word for this purpose.

If anyone has ever used Word to create a HTML you will know how limited its capabilities are.

To see the impact of this on your HTML emails we tested 128 creatives in Outlook 2007. 28 of these (21.9%) had rendering problems that otherwise would have not existed in previous versions of Outlook.

What HTML does Outlook not support?

On the whole most common HTML tags are supported hence why 100 creatives rendered perfectly. However background images (background colours are OK) do not get displayed. This is the most widely experienced problem with the tested emails.

In addition the <Margin> tag does not allow you to space your text from the edge of a table cell.

Emails that suffered the main issues were heavily reliant on CSS. While Outlook 2007 supports CSS there are many limitations.

Again the main issue is the lack of support for background images defined by CSS.

Linked CSS style sheets are not supported so make sure you include all CSS within the HTML.

Formatting of bullet points in CSS can cause the bullet points to be forced out of line from each other.

Image dimensions specified by CSS are not applied by Outlook. Therefore we saw on a couple of occasions emails being stretched to the width of the correct image size, not the specified width.

The other common issue is CSS used for positioning being ignored, leaving the email a complete mess.

To help customers overcome these issues we are adding an Outlook 2007 preview in our Inbox Preview feature.

Another useful resource is the Microsoft guide to HTML & CSS rendering in Outlook 2007.

Other issues with Outlook 2007 include:

Phishing – Outlook looks for emails that claim to be from someone but are in fact from a spammer looking to trick you into giving confidential details. Outlook will block the message content including images and links.

Junk Mail Filter – If the Outlook filter catches your email as spam it will block the HTML version, just leaving a stripped plain text version. Another article will focus on the Outlook 2007 spam filter.

Other useful links

outlook 2007 validator:

Word 2007 HTML and CSS Rendering Capabilities in Outlook 2007 (Part 1 of 2)

Word 2007 HTML and CSS Rendering Capabilities in Outlook 2007 (Part 2 of 2)

MS office dev center

Office Add-in: Creative Commons Add-in for Microsoft Office

AOL email concerns for Week Beg 02-04-2007

*Complaint rate: 0.24% :: 06/04/2007 :: Friday

*Complaint rate: 0.38% :: 05/04/2007 :: Thursday

*Complaint rate: 0.23% :: 04/04/2007 :: Wednesday

*Complaint rate: 0.55% :: 03/04/2007 :: Tuesday

*Complaint rate: 1.36% :: 02/04/2007 :: Monday

*Complaint rate: 1.46% :: 01/04/2007 :: Sunday

AOL blocked servers

Over the last few weeks we had a lot of trouble getting through to AOL with emails - 3 out of 7 of our severs were being blocked. AOL were accusing us of having some compromised script on our servers - I have had many talks with AOL and they were not helpful.
The process that decides to block certain IPs is automated. When an IP gets a certain complaint rate it is blocked.
SO, Stuart, Adrian and Mark decided to switch off the three accused servers between the hours of 2:30pm and 11am. This was on the 3rd of April 2007.
On Tuesday 10th April 2007 Roger and I have discovered that two of the three accusied servers are now working with AOL and these are the two whitelisted ones! Mark Hla did not want to turn the two back on until the third was also freed up - but the third is not on the whitelist and is having trouble getting on there
On Wednesday 11th April 2007 Roger informed me that the thrid has now been freed up after Roger sent an email from the accused server to Mohammed at Aol postmaster.

I am now waiting for a response from Marc Hla about switching the servers back on permanently...stay tuned!!!

This is the sugar Project Task where all of my work is written up for this

Hotmail Feedback Loop

We are now on the Hotmail Feedback Loop - called the JMRP (Junk Mail reporting Program)

And according to the SNDS Monitoring System - hotmail love us!!!