Downtime explanation

A huge apology to our customers who saw a delay in the delivery of their campaign today. The Campaign Monitor data centre suffered a major blow several hours ago when it apparently wore a direct lightning strike.

There was in fact only a very short outage until backup systems kicked in, but this was still enough to delay many campaigns. All systems have since been restored and all campaigns in the queue are now being delivered. You will receive a confirmation email as soon as your emails are delivered.

My sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused, I've been assured this is a freak occurrence (hey, it was a direct lightning strike). A big thanks to everyone who got in touch with us about this, we're getting back to each of you as I type this.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner

Can I include a print stylesheet in my campaign?

We've published a follow-up post with more recent results - view it here.

We recently had a few customers approach us about print stylesheet support and whether or not they can include them in their campaigns. We weren't sure either, so we did some testing to get to the bottom of it once and for all.

What is a print stylesheet?

Quick background, print stylesheets basically allow you to set a different set of CSS rules when you print the page to the one you see when viewing it on screen. For more details, check out Eric Meyer's great intro. By specifying a print stylesheet for our newsletters, we could ensure when a subscribers prints our email they see a much more print friendly email that might use simpler formatting and even hide some elements of the email itself.

The test

Because most email environments won't let us link to an external CSS file, we used the @media rule to specify our print only styles (more on this here). Here's a quick sample of the code we used:

<STYLE type="text/css">
@media print {
   p.printme { font-size: 10px; color: #f00; }
}
@media screen {
   p.printme { font-size: 40px; color: #000}
}
</STYLE>

The results

Email client @media print { ... } media="print"
Apple Mail 4 Yes Yes
Outlook Express/2003 Yes Yes
Outlook 2007/2010 No No
Thunderbird Yes Yes
Yahoo! Mail No Yes
Gmail No No
Windows Live Hotmail Yes No


As you can see, the results were quite varied. None of the web-based email environments supported the print-friendly version, but most of the desktop environments did. Ultimately, we can put this down to lack of support for the @media rule. Unfortunately, since none of the web-based environments support the use of the link element for embedding external stylesheets, the @media rule is the only option available.

Conclusion

From our quick tests it appears that including print styles via the @media rule doesn't do any harm in email environments that don't support it (as they are ignored completely). If you're sending an email like an invitation with specific details or any other kind of email your recipients are likely to print, you may want to consider adding a few print specific styles if it will make your email easier to read.

If any of you guys have had other experiences with print stylesheets and have anything to share, I'd love to hear it.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 1 Comment

Gallery: H&R Block Insight

See the complete email designWe liked this great looking monthly email design for Canada’s H&R Block. The layout makes the newsletter very easy to read and is a great example of a classic 2 column email newsletter design.

If we were being picky, we’d probably recommend doing the article titles and header text using text instead of images, but it’s Friday and we’ll let it slide.

All in all a well executed newsletter with some very useful content on a daunting subject.

Designer:  Darin Bendickson  |  See the complete design

Read this post Posted by David Greiner

HTML Emails - Taming the beast!

I recently put together an article on email design for the awesome web design resource Vitamin. This was a combination of ideas I've covered in previous articles in this blog and some new recommendations to boot. Check it out and while you're at it be sure to take a peek at the top notch content on the rest of the site.
Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 2 Comments

Gallery: Tandems Monthly Newsletter

See the complete email designWe instantly loved this inaugural monthly newsletter sent by UK based JD Cycles, the place to go for tandem bicycles.

The newsletter looks fantastic, using a consistent look and feel with the equally impressive web site. The email is well written and balances the promotion of their products with other resources and events their customer base would be interested in.

If this is their first newsletter effort, we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Designer:  Jonathan Ratcliffe  |  See the complete design

Read this post Posted by David Greiner

Update: Improved spam complaint integration

We've just launched our completed integration into the Microsoft Junk Mail Reporting System. This means that you can now keep track of anyone who flags your campaigns as spam across all Hotmail and MSN accounts.

Whenever you receive a spam complaint, that recipient is instantly removed from your list and we provide you with a detailed report on who made the complaint and when.

Just like the existing AOL spam complaint integration, we're also using this data to monitor complaints for all our customers to make sure everyone is sticking to best practice. If one of you guys is getting complaints greater than 1 in every 5,000 emails, you'll more than likely be hearing from us.

Having said that, we certainly understand (as do most ISP's) that some of your recipients may forget opting in to your list and occasionally mark an email as spam instead of just unsubscribing. At any rate, here are a few tips to follow to reduce the chances of an unjustified spam complaint:

  • Using our double opt-in subscribe process to ensure a high quality subscriber list.
  • Inform your recipients why they are receiving each email and how you obtained their details in a clear location at the top of each email.
  • Including our single-click unsubscribe link in an obvious, prominent position.

We've got a few other features we plan on adding to our spam reporting soon that should certainly please our bigger senders. We'll announce them here as soon as they're live.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 4 Comments
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