Big upgrade to the help system

We've just pushed a large update to the help system live that should make it much easier to find an answer when a question arises. The old system worked well for us when we launched, as there wasn't a great deal of content in there. Over the last few years we've obviously added plenty of new features with documentation to match, along with loads of tips and how-to's to get the most out of the app.

To make sure you can still get an answer out of the system as quickly and clearly as possible, we've made the following changes:

Categories now have sub-categories

We've split the bigger categories up into small chunks so it's much easier to scan the page. We're also listing a sample of the most popular topics in each category at the top to get answers to common questions fast.

Screenshot of a category in the new help system

Context-sensitive help

Screenshot of a category in the new help systemThis one was long overdue. If you hit the "Help" link from any page in the app, you'll be taken to the category related to that section of the app. Not only that, but we'll take a guess at the question you're probably going to ask and will highlight that answer at the top of the page.

This change should make it much easier to find the right answer in a single click rather than browse or search the entire help system.

Video walkthroughs

We've put together a series of narrated video walkthroughs (or screencasts, or movies, or moviecast thingies) that cover some of the main functionality in Campaign Monitor. Sit back and relax while we show you how to use custom fields and segments to send targeted campaigns or how you set up report access for each client.

Screenshot of the video walkthoughs in the new help system

On top of these updates, we've also made a public-facing version of the help system that any one can check out without being a Campaign Monitor customer. Now that these changes are live we'll continue putting together more help content to ensure you can get your questions answered on the spot as often as possible.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 2 Comments

Want to work for Campaign Monitor?

The hotly contested Freshview ping ping tableIt's been a busy year for the Freshview team, which I guess can happen with more than 1,500 new customers signing up to our apps each month. Still, I think we've managed pretty well for a full-time team of 5 (there were 3 of us less than 6 months ago). The job's never done though, and we've got some pretty big ideas on how we can make Campaign Monitor and MailBuild loads better.

To do that, we need to find more super talented people to join our team. As of today, we've got 3 new positions available at the Freshview office in Sydney, and a fourth available for someone to help out from the US or Canada.

For those interested, you can read a little more about what it's like working for us and check out the official lineup below:

None of these are incredibly urgent and we're a pretty fussy bunch, but we're putting them out there now realizing we might not find the perfect person overnight. If you think you're a good match or know anyone who might be interested, please let us know.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 4 Comments

New feature: Remembering your test addresses

Screenshot showing the new test functionalityIf you're like me (or Mark), you like to test each campaign you send fairly comprehensively before you send to your complete subscriber list. In my workflow, this usually involves firing the email off to a number of test accounts I've set up at various ISP's like Hotmail, Yahoo! and Gmail.

I always found it a little annoying come testing time when I'd have to remember each of these test addresses. Sometimes it wouldn't arrive and I'd have to double check the address and re-send. Not a deal breaker, but it was definitely annoying. Turns out this was an annoyance a number of customers also had. Today, we did something about it.

From now on we'll remember the last 5 test email addresses you used for that particular client. Often this might be a contact at the client, and a few of your favourite test addresses. Simply tick the checkbox next to the addresses you'd like to send a test to and we'll do the rest.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 2 Comments

A Guide to CSS Support in Email: 2007 Edition

Update This study has since been superseded. View the latest edition

It's been just over 12 months since I posted our original Guide to CSS Support in Email and quite a bit has changed since. Sadly, the most significant of these changes was in the wrong direction, with Microsoft's recent decision to use the Word rendering engine instead of Internet Explorer in Outlook 2007. We've written plenty about it already including an explanation of the reasoning behind it. More on its impact on CSS support later.

It hasn't all been doom and gloom though, a number of vendors have maintained or improved their support for CSS, especially in the web-based email environment. The new Yahoo! Mail looks very promising and the old Hotmail will be making way for the new Windows Live Mail in the coming months. Desktop based apps tend to move a little slower and not a great deal has changed on that front, but traditionally they've been the best performers anyway. This year we added Outlook 2007, the new Yahoo! Mail and Mozilla Thunderbird for the Mac to our test suite, and also noticed some subtle changes in others.

So what's changed?

Outlook 2007

Microsoft OfficeNo doubt the Outlook 2007 "incident" had the biggest impact on CSS support in email over the last year. Many commentators in the industry claimed the change was no big deal, that this change doesn't really make a difference. Funnily enough, most of these comments came from the marketing side of the fence, not the design side. Understandably, most marketers and project managers couldn't care less about this change - there are ways around it using tables and inline CSS, so who cares? Well, designers care.

I wasn't kidding when I said Microsoft took email design back 5 years. Using tables for layout is a dying art in the web design community, in fact many designers who have started CSS/XHTML in the last few years have never even coded a table based layout before. This is a good thing. CSS based emails are more lightweight, much more accessible to those with disabilities and because content is separated from presentation, much easier to dumb down for those reading email on mobile devices. This change by Microsoft means that for at least the next 5 years any designer not familiar with table based layouts will need to learn a completely different way of creating a HTML page if they want to send emails to an Outlook user.

The new Yahoo! Mail

The new Yahoo! Mail BetaOn a much more positive note, Yahoo! have been putting the finishing touches on their brand new mail interface. Mark did some solid testing on the new Yahoo! Mail vs Windows Live Mail back in January, which is certainly worth a read. The exciting news is that Yahoo! have maintained their lead as the best web-based email client out there for CSS support. There are some subtle differences to the older version, which we've noted in our results below.

Early talk from the Yahoo! camp suggests they will not be forcing all of their current users to the new platform, but instead make it the default for new customers and give existing customers the option to upgrade.

Windows Live Mail

Windows Live MailIt should also be noted that Windows Live Mail (the new Hotmail), which we covered an early beta of in last year's test is rolling out in the coming months. Unlike Yahoo, Live Mail will be completely replacing the older Hotmail interface over the course of the next few months, meaning our days coding for Hotmail's quirks will soon be over.

It's not all rosy though. In the 12 months since I last tested the Live Mail beta, they've dropped support for a number of key selectors and properties. As detailed in the results, a number of key CSS selectors are no longer supported. The most significant of these is e#id and e.className, which as many of you know means inline CSS will be the only way to get much of your formatting to work for Hotmail subscribers moving forward. Very frustrating.

New Recommendations

When I initially wrote about the Outlook 2007 shock a few months back, I said:

If your email breaks in Notes or Eudora, it was often an acceptable casualty, but if it breaks in Outlook, you're more than likely ostracizing too many recipients to justify your design approach.

Unfortunately I still think this is the case. If there's a chance that a reasonable percentage of your recipients will be using Outlook 2007, then a completely CSS based email design just won't cut it. If your layout is column based, you have no option but to use tables for the basic structure of your email. You're also going to need to dumb down your CSS usage (see our results below for the nitty gritty on what does and doesn't work).

Business to Business emails

I wasn't able to track down any predictions on Office 2007 penetration in the business world. Considering it was only released a few months ago, you might have some time before the install base becomes significant. Either way though, you're going to get caught eventually. Considering Outlook's 75% domination over corporate email, you've got little choice but to bow down and stick to tables and basic CSS for all your email templates.

The verdict: Table-based and possibly inline CSS.

Business to Consumer emails

Across the spectrum of consumer based email environments little has changed really. Yahoo! has maintained their position as the industry leader, while Hotmail has simply been replaced with new wrapping but next to no improvements. Just like last year, Gmail still provides very limited CSS support. If you've got a decent percentage of Gmail subscribers, it's table based with inline CSS all the way I'm afraid. Of course, you can never assume that none of your home based subscribers are using Outlook 2007, so this is a judgement call you'll need to make yourself.

If you do decide to stick with CSS based layouts for B2C emails, I'd recommend doing plenty of testing across Hotmail, Yahoo!, AOL and Gmail to make sure it's presentable in each.

The verdict: Either CSS or table-based layouts but make sure you test, test, test.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 166 Comments

New feature: Include an unsubscribe link in your confirmation and verification emails

We've just pushed an update live that's been a long time coming. From today, you can now include a single click unsubscribe link in the following automated emails:

  • The double opt-in verification email - When a new subscriber completes your double opt-in subscribe form, we automatically send them a customizable email with a link they need to click to confirm their subscription.
  • The subscription confirmation email - When a new subscriber is added to your list (either single or double opt-in), you have the option of sending them a customizable welcome email (check out these tips on writing good welcome emails)

Screenshot showing an unsubscribe link being inserted into email contentIncluding a single-click unsubscribe link in both of these emails is a great way to add another layer of trust with any new subscriber and show them right off the bat how commited you are to respecting their preferences.

As always, you can customize the unsubscribe confirmation page that anyone sees when they click this link so they're redirected to your own (or your clients site). You can head into your "Unsubscribe Settings" for each list to set this up.

Read this post Posted by David Greiner

Edit just the HTML or text version, not both

We recently made an update to reduce anxiety, but this one is aimed purely at reducing frustration. Previously, when making changes to either the HTML or text component of your email creative from the Campaign Snapshot, you'd be forced to go through the update steps for both.

This became all the more frustrating when you wanted to make a small tweak to the text component of your email, but were forced to re-import your HTML version first. Today I'm pleased to say this annoyance has been removed and as per the screenshot below, you can now make quick changes to either your HTML or text versions in a single click.

Screenshot of the new editing functionality available in the campaign snapshot

This was one of those annoyances that kept getting delayed for bigger updates, but enough was enough!

Read this post Posted by David Greiner - 6 Comments
  1. 1
  2. 2

Sign up for free.
Then send campaigns for as little as $9/month

Create an account