A Guide to CSS Support in Email

Update: This study has since been superceded by the new and improved 2008 Edition

Since the rise of Internet Explorer, web designers have had to test their designs across multiple web browsers. No one likes it, but we've all copped it on the chin, written a few hacks and moved on with our lives. After all, 3 to 4 browsers aint that bad - and they finally seem to be getting their act together.

If Internet Explorer is the schoolyard bully making our web design lives a little harder, then Hotmail, Lotus Notes and Eudora are serial killers making our email design lives hell. Yes, it's really that bad.

Inspired by the fantastic work of Xavier Frenette, we decided to put each of the popular email environments to the test and finalize once and for all what CSS is and isn't supported out there.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 198 Comments

Gallery: Mom Advice Newsletter

See the complete email designToday we’re highlighting a great looking monthly newsletter sent by Mom Advice, a popular and useful resource for all the Moms of the world.

The newsletter is simple - it does a few things and does them very well. Most importantly, the content is engaging and very well written. The email includes three great articles, interesting sites of the month and other articles their target market should find interesting.

The colors and clean design looks great and is nice and consistent with the Mom Advice web site. They’ve also managed to slip in a link to the web version and a reminder about getting into the users address book to reduce spam filtering and encourage images to be displayed by default.

Designer:  Ryan Clark  |  See the complete design

Read this post Posted by David Greiner

New feature: Export the Recipient Activity Report

Screenshot of the Recipient Activity Report

While we make it very easy to export your unsubscribed and active subscribers out of your subscriber lists, itís always been a challenge to extract that data on a per-campaign basis.

We just pushed an update live that now allows you to export any part of the Recipient Activity Report. To refresh your memory, this is a pretty sweeping report that lets you access information on recipients who:

  • Opened the campaign
  • Did not open the campaign
  • Clicked a link
  • Did not click a link
  • Unsubscribed

Now you can export any one of these reports into a Comma Separated Values (CSV) or tab delimited text file with the click of a button. This one's been pretty high on the wish list for lots of customers, so we hope you find it useful.

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Tip: Weird Hotmail Formatting Tip

One of our customers recently spotted a strange and very annoying Hotmail bug that modifies the appearance of your email.

If you include the word News in your campaign followed by a colon, so News:, Hotmail will automatically convert this into the following JavaScript link.

javascript:ol(‘News’);

When you think about it, this term can easily appear in tonnes of emails. Can anyone say Latest News:? The worst part is, clicking it will take you to a Hotmail 404 error page.

We assume Hotmail is doing some kind of conversion thinking this is the news: protocol for newsgroups, but this doesn’t seem to actually work anyway.

We’ve been in touch with Hotmail about his issue, so hopefully it’s something they resolve soon, but in the mean time, avoid using News: anywhere in your email content if you’re sending to Hotmail recipients.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 4 Comments

Gallery: Kiwiproperty.com Newsletter

See the complete email designThis was a great looking monthly email newsletter designed by New Zealand based Catch Design for Kiwiproperty.com.

Most of use have seen plenty of real estate emails before, but this is certainly one the better presented examples that I’ve seen. The colors are great and the large font size used for the main titles makes the email very easy to scan.

Asking for your subscriber’s feedback at the bottom of the email is also a great idea, as long as you’re aware of the limitations of form support in email. In this case, it might have been a good idea to link to a web based version of the form if anyone has trouble giving feedback.

Designer:  Hamish Stevenson  |  See the complete design

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New feature: Personalize your confirmation emails

Personalize your confirmation emails

This has been a heavily requested feature for a while now and it's great to get it out the door. From today, you can easily personalize your subscribe confirmation emails.

If you're using a single opt-in list, you can add your subscriber's first name, last name, full name or email address to their optional confirmation emails.

If you're using a double opt-in list, you can personalize both the initial verification email (where the subscriber needs to click a link) as well as the optional confirmation email.

Verification and especially confirmation emails can be very effective in getting off on the right foot with your new subscribers. Here are a few ideas you can try:

  1. Start by welcoming your new subscribers (by name if possible) and encourage them to add your sending email address to their address book. This can dramatically increase the chances of it being delivered and displaying as intended.
  2. A great way to encourage new people to join your list is by offering a free white-paper or other resource. By sending a confirmation email, you can qualify their email address and send them the link to their reward from the confirmation email.
  3. Develop that relationship a little further. Remind each subscriber why they signed up and let them know they should be looking forward to when they receive your next newsletter.

As usual, you can also provide fallback terms if we don't have your subscriber's name on file.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner

Gallery: River City Church Newsletter

See the complete email designEveryone at Campaign Monitor was a huge fan of this monthly newsletter sent for the River City Church by Jacksonville based Livingston & Partners.

They seemed to have ticked every box in our recent design guidelines, including:

  • Link to a web-based version of the email in the header.
  • All important headlines and links are text and not images.
  • Alt text used on all images (which makes a better experience in Gmail).
  • The most compelling content to encourage an open (the newsletters highlights) are in the top left, great for preview panes.
  • They ask their recipients to add their sending email address to their address book to improve the chances of images being displayed and the campaign not being filtered as spam.

The email has even been designed using CSS for layout, which will degrade gracefully in older or more restrictive email environments. Mark Wyner would be so proud ;) Fantastic job and a great poster child for modern email design.

Designer:  Jon Livingston  |  See the complete design

Read this post Posted by David Greiner
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