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

Microsoft to launch another email client, designers collectively hold their breath

Last Sunday, Microsoft made an announcement about the official launch of Windows Live Hotmail, the new version of Hotmail that will be rolled out to all of their users over the coming days. This wasn’t big news, we’ve all known about the beta for a long time and covered it in detail in previous posts. However, there was one little bullet point in the press release that actually was big news to us email designers.

In the coming weeks, Microsoft will introduce an additional e-mail client option for Windows Live Hotmail with the release of Windows Live Mail beta, a free consumer e-mail client available via download that will be a successor to Outlook Express and Windows Mail on Windows Vistaâ„¢.

Holy crap! We’ve got a new email client to contend with people.

Windows Live Mail comes to the desktop

After some digging around, we tracked down an entire entry by Live Mail Program Manager Tanja Fournier about the new email client on the Live Mail blog. It’s always been a bit confusing to us. There was Outlook 2007, regular old Outlook Express, and then when Vista came we got Windows Mail. On top of this Microsoft have also been offering Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta from their Live Beta site since July 2006.

Thankfully, the press release points out that this new app will be the official successor to Outlook Express and Windows Mail on Vista, and will be built on the Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta foundations. This is great news, because this version in particular had seen loads of improvements since its release and was starting to shape up as a great desktop email client (pictured below).

Screenshot of the Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta

The new app will feature plenty of decent features like easy synchronization of Hotmail and POP accounts between the desktop and web-based versions and a cleaner, faster interface. That’s all good and well, but what are the implications for us email designers and marketers?

Unsubscribe and spam complaint integration

Screenshot of the Windows Live Mail Desktop BetaCurrently, Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta (pictured above) supports the Unsubscribe functionality we mentioned here last week, reducing the chance of false spam complaints and giving subscribers another way to unsubscribe from your lists.

The current beta also features integration into Hotmail’s junk mail feedback loop which already hooks directly into your Campaign Monitor reports. This means that we can report on any spam complaints made by Live Mail customers, whether they use the web or desktop version. Disappointingly, this option is off by default in the current beta, so let’s hope this is switched to the default option for the final version.

What about CSS support and image blocking?

We’ve done some CSS testing on the Live Mail Desktop Beta and can confirm that unlike Outlook 2007, it does in fact use Internet Explorer to render all HTML emails. This means it features almost perfect CSS support (yep, even position and float work nicely).

The problem here is, neither the press release nor blog post mention if this will continue with the new app coming in the next few weeks. Of course, given the fact that this release will be built on top of the Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta, there’s a very good chance the same rendering engine will be used. This is further backed up by the fact that Outlook Express and Windows Mail on Vista both use the IE rendering engine already. You can breath a tentative sigh of relief if you’re using CSS based layouts for business to consumer based emails.

Like Windows Live Hotmail (that’s the web-based version if it’s starting to get confusing), it appears that the desktop version will block images by default. We also noticed an option in the preferences to show images by default for any recipients in the safe sender list or the user’s contacts, following a similar path to the web-based version.

Key takeaways

  1. The new Windows Live Mail (for the desktop) is shaping up to be Microsoft’s best email client yet for email designers and marketers. You’ve got to love great CSS support combined with List-Unsubscribe functionality and feedback loop integration for spam complaints.
  2. No news yet on how strongly Microsoft will be pushing the new email client, but if it’s delivered via Windows Update as a replacement for Outlook Express and Windows Mail for Vista and promoted to all Hotmail users, this client could quickly become one of the most popular in the world. Right now we’ll have to wait and see how they play this one out.
  3. Giving consumers only one free email client (Windows Live Mail) is way better than confusing them with a choice between 4 possible alternatives.

We’ve been in touch with Microsoft about getting our hands on a copy of the final version of Windows Live Mail, and will post an update here the moment we find out more.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 4 Comments

It’s t-shirt voting time people!

OK, so we were hoping for maybe 3 or 4 funny suggestions from you guys for our upcoming t-shirt design. Forget that! 61 comments and more than 100 suggestions later, you guys have come up with some absolutely hilarious ideas that we can't wait to print.

We spent a few hours today casting an internal vote and came up with 9 of Freshview's favourites. It was a tough call and there were a few we didn't include because, while they were hilarious, they probably weren't something you'd wear to your grandmothers ;) So what are you waiting for, tell us which shirts you'd actually wear and we'll do the rest.

Cast your vote now

Thanks again to everyone who made a suggestion. We'll be sending those behind the selected designs a copy of each of the shirts we print, along with some free credits for their account and other goodies.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 1 Comment
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