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A Guide to CSS Support in Email: 2008 Edition

In the last year, we’ve seen some changes in the email client market. Webmail usage continues to grow significantly while new versions of popular desktop clients have been released. In an attempt to stimulate some improvement on the CSS front, we’ve helped launch the Email Standards Project. While we can hope for future improvements, it’s the present we need to design for. The time has arrived to again poke and prod the major email clients to determine just how much (or how little) support they provide for using CSS with HTML emails. Last year’s report focused on the unique challenges of Outlook 2007. In 2008, Outlook is still an issue, but there are encouraging signs in other areas. The release of Entourage 2008 (the Mac equivalent of Outlook) made great improvements with CSS support, bringing it on par with Apple Mail’s excellent rendering. Proof that perhaps Microsoft has been listening and we can only hope that the next version of Outlook will follow suit. Thunderbird 2 was released with plenty of new features, and continued it’s run of excellent CSS support. Gmail has probably been the most disappointing client of all. One of the advantages of web applications is not needing to wait for new versions to be rolled out. With just basic in the head CSS selector support Gmail would go from bad to good but we’re still waiting for that. Checkout the Email Standards Project post about some support inside Google though, and keep your fingers crossed. We did expand our testing this year — A combined total of 21 email/web clients making this the biggest test we’ve ever done, up from last years 13. The CSS support in email guide is permanently located at https://www.campaignmonitor.com/css/, and that’s the best page to bookmark to ensure you are always seeing the latest version. Read the full report at https://www.campaignmonitor.com/css/

Blog Post

CSS Support in mobile.me Email?

Although the majority of the Freshview team slept blissfully through the WWDC keynote, we were all interested to hear about Apple’s new Mobile Me service, which will replace .mac in July. Once Apple’s new web applications are up and running, we’ll be sure to thoroughly test the .me email client and see how well it supports CSS in HTML email. If you can’t wait for that, you can content yourself with an update to our CSS support chart which will be coming later this week. In thinking about the continuity of email from desktop to web to mobile, one question occurs: How would you change your email newsletters if you new your readers were mobile, not sitting at their desk? Would you make them shorter? Would you have different content? Less images? More links or less links? Your thoughts appreciated! Update: One thing we forgot to mention is that Cameron Moll’s excellent book on designing for mobile devices is on sale for $10 a pop! While not focusing on email design per se, it’s still a great primer for those considering how best to approach designing for mobile devices.

Blog Post

Hot Ideas for Your Email Designs

More great designs have joined the Campaign Monitor gallery recently. Browse through to pick up some great ideas you can use in your own emails. Subscribe to the email design gallery’s RSS feed to see the latest designs.

Blog Post

Email as Conversation, Not Invasion

Have you ever really thought about the way email campaigns are sometimes described? Have you heard your clients talk about “email blasts” and “mail shots“? Sounds less like we are emailing our subscribers, and more like we are declaring war on them! Without getting too carried away, it’s clear that names are important. If our clients, and we ourselves think about our email campaigns as ‘blasts’, big one way transfers from us to them, we’ll be tempted to act in ways we never would in a real conversation. The more we see our audience as passive receivers of a mass message, the less likely we are to think about what works best for them instead of us. Email is such a personal medium, at least on the receiving end, and it’s a dreadful waste of that intimacy to just throw out the same message to everyone. So what do we do instead? I’m suggesting two courses of action here: Stop using war metaphors like ‘mail shot’ and ‘e-blast’ right away. Encourage your clients to think about their emails as conversation starters and updates. It sounds small but it can really impact on their decision making. Make your emails more personalized by using tools like segmenting, custom fields and analytics. It helps you to stop thinking of your readers as a single mass, and start considering them as individuals. Treating people as individuals flows through to respecting their ability to unsubscribe at any time, and not hiding the link from them. It means wherever possible letting people email you back instead of discouraging two way contact. Email should be a conversation, not an invasion.

Blog Post

No More Currency Conversion Charges for the US

Although we are an Australian company (based by the southern beaches of Sydney) the vast majority of all of you designers are based in the USA, or are at least more familiar with US dollars. For that reason we have always priced Campaign Monitor in US dollars. However, when we came to actually take the payment, we had to convert the quoted price to Australian dollars. We have always been generous on the conversion rate, so that you don’t end up paying more, but sometimes banks on the customer end will charge foreign currency conversion costs. It’s been a frustration for some time, but in the last day we’ve improved things. From now on, every campaign will be priced and charged directly in US dollars. That means your accounts team won’t be hassling you because your invoice is 8 cents off the charge on the card! The price we quote is the exact amount you will see on your statement. Thanks to everyone who has given us feedback on this issue. p.s. You can follow CampaignMonitor on Twitter to get the fastest notification of updates like these, new features, and also give us your direct feedback.

Blog Post

Web Visions in Portland Oregon

It’s Web Visions time again here in my local town of not so sunny Portland, OR. I’ll be there both Thursday and Friday to enjoy some great sessions from speakers like Campaign Monitor’s frequent blog contributor Mark Wyner, Jason Grigsby, and Jeffrey Veen. So if you’re going to be attending as well, I’d love to hear from you. If you see a woman walking around in a Campaign Monitor t-shirt it’s likely me; no guarantees though! Come up and say hi, give feedback or ask questions (or all three!).

Blog Post

2008 Email Design Guidelines

In this article we’ll discuss the technical, design and information elements that make up a…

Blog Post

Does Yahoo! Mail Ignore Your Paragraph Tags?

If your emails to Yahoo! accounts have been feeling a little bit claustrophobic recently, we…

Blog Post

Email Design Inspiration Time

The collection of great gallery entries continues to grow! If you’re having design block, consider browsing through the gallery for ideas and inspiration. Subscribe to the email design gallery’s RSS feed to see them all.

Blog Post

Campaign Monitor Drupal Module

A completely open source content management platform, Drupal is a popular choice for large scale, flexible websites. A key feature of Drupal is the ability to add on modules, plug in code that extends the core functionality to do any number of different things. Sydney based Campaign Monitor user Stephanie Sherriff has written a cool Drupal module to integrate Campaign Monitor newsletter signups with your Drupal website. Stephanie describes it in this way: a fairly simple module that just adds the ability to subscribe and unsubscribe from a newsletter using the API. It also creates a page that displays prior campaigns Here is how the module’s configuration page looks in Drupal: Once the module is up and running on your site, you can place the newsletter signup easily, creating something like the form shown here. If your site visitors are logged in, then the form will even be pre-filled for them using the details from their user account on your website. This could be an excellent way to grow your list, and also something to implement on websites you are building for your clients. Stephanie is still planning some further improvements to the module, and we look forward to seeing those too. Visit the Campaign Monitor Drupal Module page to find out more, and to download it.

Blog Post

Quick Tip: Choosing Google Analytics Tags

Now that you can automatically add Google Analytics tags to your emails, we wanted to remind you how you can easily edit the tags used for each campaign. Once you have setup Google Analytics integration (see the help topic) you will have an extra option when importing your HTML for a campaign. You can change the tag used for the source of traffic, and for this specific campaign. If you are using Analytics for yourself, you might use “Campaign Monitor” as the source, so you can tell which people came from your Campaign Monitor emails. However, if you plan to show the Analytics reports to your clients, it would be best to choose something more generic like ‘Newsletter’, or the name you use when rebranding the software. When you login to your Google Analytics account and browse by traffic source, you’ll see the name you set when sending the campaign: We recommend keeping the source the same for each campaign you send so you can easily see an aggregate for all Campaign Monitor campaigns in your Analytics account. Of course, you can also tweak the campaign name tag to make things easier to recognize too – for example, to remind you this was the campaign where you changed the subject line, or sent later in the day. That can make it easier to understand the impact changing different elements has on your eventual results. Let us know if you have any of your own Google Analytics tips and tricks for use with Campaign Monitor.

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