Default image blocking continues to gather momentum

For the most current results on image blocking in email clients, view our updated post.

Screenshot of the new AOL.com mail interfaceAOL recently updated their web-based software for all AOL.com and AIM.com email accounts. We've had a quick look around and even done some preliminary CSS testing. The good news is that CSS support is top notch, as in as good as Yahoo!, which was great to see. The not-so-good news was that images are now blocked by default for all unknown senders.

In the scheme of things, this isn't really that big a deal. Image blocking is the norm in most modern email clients and we've been promoting the idea of designing for images being turned off for the last couple of years.

So why are we even bothering announcing this? Because some people need to hear things 10 times before they sink in. We still see the occasional customer sending largely image based designs for their clients. We point them to our makeovers and reports, but some still don't seem to get the point.

Consider this another tap on the shoulder about image blocking.

On top of getting your design right, make sure you check out our other tips for minimizing the negatives of image blocking, such as becoming a "safe sender".

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 5 Comments

T-shirt update: The votes are in!

First off, a big thanks to everyone who voted and left comments in our quick survey. We had hundreds of votes cast and decided to go with the top 3 designs as voted by you. Luckily for us, there were 3 fairly clear winners, and the number one choice got a vote from almost half of you. That one's gonna be popular.

Not long now...

Right now we're working with a professional designer to bring the selected designs to life, and as soon as that's been finalized we'll be announcing the winners and final designs here. Hopefully this won't take more than a week or two to wrap up.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 9 Comments

Add inline CSS to your web version, unsubscribe and forward to a friend links

If you're used to coding your email newsletters for Gmail, you're probably an expert on inline CSS by now. As our recent CSS research highlighted, Gmail doesn't support the <style> or <link> element. This means if you want your links to be in a size 11 font and a light blue color, you'll need to code something like...

<a href="http://www.campaignmonitor.com" style="font-size:11px;color:#4fb5e9;">Visit the web site</a> to find out more

OK, kind of annoying but it works. But what about our automatically generated links for unsubscribing, linking to a web-based version and adding a forward to a friend link. As you know, these are generated after you import your design from the tags present in your HTML, such as <unsubscribe> and <webversion> and up until now you couldn't add your own inline CSS to them. Well, not until today anyway.

Introducing the style="" attribute

By adding a style="" attribute to the unsubscribe, webversion and forward a friend tags, we'll automatically add that inline CSS to the personalized links we create for each recipient.

Using our example above, let's say we want to make our unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email blue and in size 11 font.

<unsubscribe style="font-size:11px;color:#4fb5e9;">Unsubscribe</unsubscribe> from our monthly newsletter list

We'd get <a href="http://www.unsubscribeaddress.com" style="font-size:11px; color:#4fb5e9;">Unsubscribe</a> from our monthly newsletter list

You can use exactly the same technique for the web version and forward to a friend tags too, such as <forwardtoafriend style=""></forwardtoafriend> and <webversion style=""></webversion>.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 15 Comments

Testing the plain text version of your email

When you create a campaign with Campaign Monitor, you can select to send it in plain text, just html or multipart text+html formats. Now testing an email that is just text is pretty straightforward, and testing the html portion is also easy, but how do you see the plain text part of a multipart email? Here's how to check what people will see if their email client is setup to show text only.

Testing using Thunderbird

Thunderbird screenshot showing View menu

Thunderbird is a cross platform, free email client, and it lets you easily view the plain text version of a multipart email.

View / Message Body As / Plain Text

Testing using Apple Mail

Mail screenshot showing View menu

Apple Mail has the same functionality built in:

View / Message / Plain text alternative

In both clients, you can swap back and forth between html and text views.

Outlook: Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a way to view the plain text in Outlook. We'd suggest you just grab Thunderbird and use it to check your campaigns. Now that Campaign Monitor remembers your test addresses it's even easier to set up a consistent test process.

Read this post Posted by Mathew Patterson - 8 Comments

Fresh new gallery entries

The Medium Competitive Review Desktop

We've been adding fantastic new entries to our design gallery recently, in a variety of different styles. We've also made it easy to browse the 20 most popular gallery entries; perfect for some instant inspiration.

You can also subscribe to the gallery's own RSS feed to be notified when we post new entries.

Read this post Posted by Mathew Patterson

Designer Interviews: Needmore Designs

Kandace Nuckolls

Today we're talking to Kandace Nuckolls, founding partner of Needmore Designs, a Portland based design firm that's been using Campaign Monitor for themselves and their clients for more than 2 years. We asked Kandace about how she pitches email marketing to her clients, charges for her services and even the biggest email marketing mistakes she's made to date. We'll be bringing more fantastic insights from some of our clever customers over the coming weeks.

How did you gets started providing email marketing services to your clients?

Needmore Designs

We began by sending out our own semi-monthly newsletters. Our clients loved them and began asking if we could help them create something similar. We also started noticing the large number of poorly-designed, mismatched mailings going out, and felt that we could offer to bring the design of a website into an email.

Has it been hard to convince your clients to embrace email marketing? How do you approach this and any tips to share?

"We began by sending out our own semi-monthly newsletters. Our clients loved them and began asking if we could help them create something similar."

We work with a lot of artists, musicians and creative businesses-people who have a real need for mailings. In fact, many of our clients were already keeping their own mailing lists on spreadsheets and manually selecting all of their recipients for every announcement.

What we offer is an easy way to have visitors sign up right from a client's website, which helps to grow their fan base (they end up with many more people on their list-specifically interested people-folks who have already been to the client's site). And, sending is much easier. Now that MailBuild is also an option, we are able to offer exactly what our clients want, whether it is a do-it-yourself mailing approach or an individually designed and sent campaign.

How much of your current schedule is spent on email marketing for your clients?

"Everyone can benefit from the communication and sense of community that newsletters create and encourage."

Because we now offer email newsletters with every website we produce, the time we spend is just another facet of the project. We feel strongly about this! Everyone can benefit from the communication and sense of community that newsletters create and encourage. Also, many of our clients are opting for MailBuild, a fairly easy setup and design since the design mirrors the sites we are building.

How do you charge your clients for your email marketing services?

We charge a flat fee for initial design and integration with the website and then a fee per mailing. We include access to statistics along with this fee. For some clients, we also have post-campaign meetings to chat about results and future changes in their campaigns.

What do you think is the biggest benefit of email marketing?

We learned with our own mailings that they are a great opportunity to create community and keep your business in the minds of others. Also, we are compelled to create interesting emails so that people use the "forward to a friend" feature and spread the word.

From your own experiences, what's the biggest challenge right now in email design?

Personally, my biggest challenge is to hold myself back from gratuitously using graphics when they're not actually needed. I have to be sure to always check emails with images turned off, to make sure they still work. I got a mailing from a friend's list yesterday that was nothing but a page full of blue, and three broken image icons! You never know when something might go wrong, and the images might go missing. Be sure folks can still read what you have to say.

How do you communicate campaign results back to your clients?

We give them a log-in to their control panel. Every once in a while, we'll sit down with a client and go over their results (what they mean, how we might tweak their mailing in the future). You can tell right away which ones are the "statistics freaks" - they quickly become engrossed in the details!

Has it been hard for your team to transition from web design to email design?

The biggest challenge has been learning about different email programs and their interaction with HTML. However, this isn't all that different from web design - you should use the right tools to get the job done. They complement each other very nicely.

What's the biggest email marketing mistake you've made to date?

That would be just last week, when we sent out a newsletter for our personal project, Gone Raw. We spent some time perfecting the copy, double-checking the email list, and getting everything in order. We sent out the list, and promptly went out for a celebratory drink (or three). When we checked back the next morning, we discovered the site had gone down almost immediately after we sent out the mailing (this never happens, we swear!) and had been down for about 12 hours. Oops.

Any email marketing secrets to share with your fellow designers?

Keep it simple. Even our mailings probably have too much graphics. As many similarities as email has to web design, there are very significant differences, too. There's something to be said for sending out plain text emails, though being a designer, I just can't bear the thought myself!

From the Needmore Designs portfolio...

Here are 2 gorgeous samples from the Needmore Designs' Campaign Monitor portfolio.

Gone Raw
New at Needmore
Read this post Posted by David Greiner

It’s time to start targeting

Mark Brownlow just put together a great motivational piece to encourage email marketers to start sending more targeted emails to their subscribers. I loved this quote in particular, which is something I’ve heard variations of countless times before…

One might get the impression that segmentation and targeting is just for those with degrees in computer science or a big fat wad of cash to throw at database vendors. I’ve seen the faces and the questions at workshops: “Ugewh! Sounds great but we don’t have the skills or resources to do that kind of thing.”

Mark’s right, even basic forms of targeting are a big step forward and can lead to better results and less complaints and list fatigue. Our custom fields and segments feature makes it so damn easy to capture data about your subscribers. Combine this with our segments feature and you can create targeted sub-lists in a matter of seconds. If the quote above rings true to you, checkout this 5 minute video walkthough where we cover the simple process of adding custom fields and creating segments in your account. Targeting your subscribers doesn’t get much easier.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 1 Comment
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