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Inside the New .Mac Webmail Client

Apple has introduced a new webmail client for their .Mac customers. It’s a truly phenomenal webmail client, functioning nearly parallel to that of their desktop client, Mail. For a brief moment I became disoriented, because while in my browser I was experiencing what I do every day in Mail. Whoa. Of course my first thoughts were concerns for how they may now be handling HTML emails. As I noted in a previous article, .Mac’s previous webmail client had amazing support for CSS and standards-based markup. The two major oddities were easily remedied, and we were on our way. So how does the new .Mac perform? I ran some tests and the results are in: the plane has crashed into the mountain! (A reference for the Lebowski fans out there.) Testing: Round One My first tests lead me to believe that .Mac’s support for CSS completely disappeared. (And that consequently produced a brief daydream wherein I was Tony Soprano chasing down the .Mac developers for some revenge.) Quickly realizing there were roughly 10,000 lines of AJAX markup (have I mentioned how cool the interface is?) in the .Mac interface, I turned to the amazing Web Developer extension for Firefox to help me locate the markup for my rendered test-message. Once I was in, it didn’t take long to locate the problem. The new .Mac takes an approach similar to that of Yahoo, whereby a message ID is applied to a new all-encompassing container DIV and every style is prefixed with the respective ID to create child selectors… Original HTML: <div id="BodyImposter"> <h1>Headline h1</h1> <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…</p> </div> Original CSS: #BodyImposter { [properties] } #BodyImposter h1 { [properties] } Modified HTML: <div id="messageCanvas_070C9153"> <div id="BodyImposter"> <h1>Headline h1</h1> <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…</p> </div> </div> Modified CSS: #messageCanvas_070C9153 > #BodyImposter { [properties] } #messageCanvas_070C9153 > #BodyImposter h1 { [properties] } This process is obviously aimed at foiling any modifications to the .Mac GUI caused by the use of type selectors. And if properly executed it would not impact the appearance of the source email. However, .Mac adds a gratuitous DIV just inside the new #messageCanvas DIV, consequently rendering all CSS useless… .Mac-rendered HTML: <div id="messageCanvas_070C9153"> <div> <div id="BodyImposter"> <h1>Headline h1</h1> <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…</p> </div> </div> </div> In order for the .Mac styles to work, #messageCanvas_070C9153 > #BodyImposter would need to become #messageCanvas_070C9153 > div > #BodyImposter. Such a seemingly harmless little DIV topples the entire email. The .Mac developers obviously didn’t thoroughly test this process. Testing: Round Two I ran a second test to see if I could overcome this problem, but came up short. I added my own child-selector system in the CSS, but did not add it to the HTML… My HTML: <div id="BodyImposter"> <h1>Headline h1</h1> <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…</p> </div> My CSS: div > #BodyImposter { [properties] } div > #BodyImposter h1 { [properties] } This would account for the gratuitous DIV that .Mac tosses into the mix because I didn’t actually add the new DIV to my HTML. Sure enough it worked like a charm, and .Mac’s support for the CSS in my test email was flawless. But using this process would render the CSS useless in every other email client because the new DIV would only appear in .Mac. Oh, the conundrum. Grim Conclusion So the result is that we’re at an impasse with .Mac: either we support other clients or we support .Mac. The former is the obvious choice, leaving us with .Mac emails looking like those rendered in Gmail and Hotmail. Bummer. I contacted Apple about this bug, but since they do not communicate directly with their customers we can only hope my message is routed/attended to by their .Mac developers. Until then, we just have to live with it. Unless someone out there has a creative solution up their sleeve? UPDATE: David/Rumble’s recommendation works wonders I ran a couple tests using this remedy, and all is well with .Mac. The downside is this solution requires a significant increase in markup because every selector must be declared twice. So for anyone considering this technique to preserve formatting in .Mac, I recommend first assessing how many .Mac addresses are on the subscription list.

Blog Post

AOL Delivery Issues

We’re currently experiencing problems delivering some campaigns to your AOL subscribers. We’ve been in talks with the AOL postmaster since the issue was identified and are hoping to have the issue resolved as soon as possible (the big guys aren’t the most nimble unfortunately). In the mean time, we’ll be delivering all your campaigns as normal, but holding off sending your emails to your AOL recipients until they can guarantee the issue is resolved. We’ll be posting an update here the moment they can give us that confirmation. Update (6pm US EST): We’ve just had confirmation from AOL that they’re aware of the issue and are resolving it now, just waiting for a final confirmation and green light. More here soon. Update (7.20pm US EST): The issue has now been resolved and we’ll be resuming delivery to your AOL recipients in the next 24 hours. Thanks for your patience.

Blog Post

Scheduled Maintenance This Sunday

We’ll be completing the final phase in our big infrastructure upgrade we mentioned a few weeks back this Sunday night morning. Because of this, you won’t be able to access your Campaign Monitor account for roughly six hours between 12.30am and 6.30am on Sunday morning US EST (convert this to your own time zone). We’ve gone very conservative with this window and are hoping to have this upgrade completed sooner. And don’t worry, the application will continue to tick along nicely behind the scenes adding new subscribers and tracking your campaigns, you just won’t be able to log in to the Campaign Monitor interface. New IP Range Our system upgrade also means we’ll be delivering your campaigns from a new set of IP addresses. In our continued commitment to getting your email delivered, we’ve been submitting these new IP’s to the big ISP’s like AOL, Hotmail and Yahoo! and many others to ensure we continue to be whitelisted. Our new IP range is: 72.15.222.60 - 72.15.222.74 (inclusive) Also, anyone who has whitelisted our old IP’s for their own server or corporate network or set up SPF/Sender ID records should update their mail servers and DNS accordingly. We’ll make an announcement here as soon as the upgrade is completed. Update: Please note that we’ve changed the maintenance times from Sunday night to very early Sunday morning starting at 12.30am. By the time most of you guys are out of bed, we’ll be good to go. Final update: DONE! Our infrastructure upgrade is now complete and we’re purring along nicely in our new data center. We’ve been doing some serious testing for the last few hours, but if you spot anything that looks out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate to drop us a line. Some subscriber list RSS feeds might not work for the next few hours until re-delegation is completed. Thanks for your patience, we’ve had a long day and it’s well past beer o’clock at the Freshview office!

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“Hands down, the Best User Experience of Any Newsletter Service”

After playing with both Campaign Monitor and MailBuild, I have to say you guys have, hands down, the best user experience of any newsletter service out there. Gilbert Wilson , Council for a Livable World

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Update: Improved Multilingual Support in the Subject Line

In a continued push to support as many languages as possible, we’ve just pushed a small update live that improves our support for foreign characters in your campaign subject line. This update ensures all Asian character sets like Chinese, Japanese and Korean are fully supported. As usual, we’re using UTF-8 encoding for both the subject and campaign content. As you can imagine, it can be difficult to test all the different language variations out there, so if you ever spot a discrepancy, please let us know and we’ll continue making tweaks and improvements to make sure everyone’s covered.

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Want to Join the Campaign Monitor Team?

We’re looking for an experienced, Sydney-based designer to join the Freshview team and help our Campaign Monitor and MailBuild customers (that’s you guys) kick even more ass than you already are. The responsibilities will be varied, including working with customers to improve how they use our products, putting together helpful articles and flexing your design muscle across our apps and web sites. This position is perfect for a designer who is looking to get their hands dirty in other fields like building communities online and educating other designers. If you’re interested, you can get the full scoop on the Freshview site. While we’re on the subject, we’re also on the hunt for an experienced .NET developer and Windows sys admin. It’s exciting times in the Freshview office.

Blog Post

Designer Interviews: Catch Design

Welcome to the first in a series of mini interviews we plan on publishing in the blog over the coming weeks. Over time we’ll be bringing you more of these casual chats with the aim of giving you an insight into how others use Campaign Monitor, pitch email marketing to their clients and even charge for their services. Today we’re talking to Hamish Stevenson, Managing Director of Catch Design, an innovative New Zealand based design firm who we’ve featured on more than one occasion in our email design gallery. We couldn’t think of a better customer to get the ball rolling on our designer interviews and asked Hamish a few questions about how he and his clients use Campaign Monitor, how he got into email marketing and even how he goes about charging for his services. How did you find out about Campaign Monitor? It was a good friend of mine who’s a usability guru here in Wellington. But he’s more than that, his focus is more than usability, he loves promoting the idea that websites and web-based initiatives should be a pleasurable and good experience, as opposed to a hassle and frustration. So when he suggested I check out Campaign Monitor, I never hesitated. Were you using any email marketing tools before us? If so, how do we compare? Was it hard to move across to Campaign Monitor? “This was our first foray into email marketing. Campaign Monitor made the experience stress free, informative and fun!” Campaign Monitor was our first foray into email marketing. We were very much (and still are to a large degree!) a boutique web design company and I was a little reluctant to get into it really. But I have to say, the ease in which Campaign Monitor guides you through the process was extraordinary. The depth and quantity of useful information and advice goes beyond what you’d expect for free. For someone who was purely dipping my toes at first, Campaign Monitor made the experience of diving in so stress free, informative and fun! What would you say is your favorite Campaign Monitor feature? Mmmm, this is hard. So many: ease of use, personalization, the reporting and list management… but probably the thing I love the most is what I touched on above, the fact that Campaign Monitor is so incredibly fast and time saving is what makes this my favourite web application ever. How do you pitch your email marketing services to your clients? The best pitch we ever did was by sending all our clients a Christmas email newsletter towards the end of 2005. We had almost all our clients come back and say, “Wow, we want to do that!” Beyond that, I just listen to what my clients’ are spending their time on and where they could improve. One of the biggest reasons any company should build a website and/or email newsletter is because these solutions have the ability to reduce the load on staff. A good example is, a well designed and built site, along with thought through and intelligent copywriting, should decrease the amount of incoming phone calls asking repetitive questions that could be answered easily on a website and/or newsletter. When you explain that in a coherent way to clients, almost all of them have seen the benefits of a customized email marketing campaign. “The best pitch we ever did was by sending all our clients a Christmas email newsletter towards the end of 2005. We had almost all our clients come back and say, ‘Wow, we want to do that!'” Aside from that, we’ve had clients who literally spend hours and hours sending out email newsletters to mailing lists of 2,000+ from Outlook!! One client recently told me she used to spend one whole day just sitting there clicking ‘Send and Receive’! This has to be one of the biggest selling points for Campaign Monitor, the fact that you can send an email to thousands of recipients in a matter of minutes is just sensational. It saves my clients time, it heavily reduces the load on their office IT set-up (The same client often had to send their newsletters out after 5pm because sending it during the day simply crashed the entire office network! Hence, she never left the office till midnight.) and within a matter of minutes, they can see how effective their campaign was. How do you charge your clients for your email marketing services? There’s an initial design and build fee. Then, depending on how involved we are in each campaign, we charge for anytime spent designing and updating the email design(s), and then we charge for the set-up and delivery costs. Has Campaign Monitor impacted the way you design your emails? Yes and no. Mainly no. Campaign Monitor is so customizable that I can’t see any design we’d come up with not work within your software. Campaign Monitor is so flexible that there’s no need to be restricted to any style or layout. In saying that, Campaign Monitor has been brilliant in offering regular ideas and thoughts on best practice for design and build of newsletters. So in that respect, yes it has certainly impacted! :) Do you use Client Report Access? If so, what has your clients feedback been? Sure do. Yeah in general, we’ve had brilliant feedback. You always manage to find a client who can’t work things out (but they’re the clients who also struggle to use the right click on their mouse), but after a little explaining, they’re fine. Majority of our clients love the “big brother” excitement of seeing their campaigns report back in real-time. Thanks for your time Hamish No worries. Thanks again for such a great product guys! From the Catch Design portfolio… We’ve featured a number of Catch Design concepts in our email design gallery. Here’s a quick sample from their Campaign Monitor portfolio.

Blog Post

Update: Importing Multiple Value Custom Fields Is Now a Breeze

A while back we made it easy for you to create custom fields with multiple pre-defined options. Let’s say you have a field for interests. You can easily populate that with options like surfing, reading, movies, baseball, etc. Once you’ve created your custom fields, it’s easy to create a subscribe form for your site that captures what your subscribers are interested in. All good so far, but it’s when you actually try and import multiple value data that things would start getting ugly. From today, we’ve made it very easy to import and export your multiple value custom field data using double pipe characters as a divider. Using my previous example, here’s how data might look like for me when you import your data from a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file. Name, Email, Interests, Country David Greiner, me@email.com, Surfing||Movies||Reading, Australia By separating all your multiple options with a double pipe, we make it super easy to import your subscriber data and marry it up with the custom fields in your subscriber lists. We use the same formatting when you export your data as well, making it easy to export, make any changes you want and re-import back into the same or other lists.

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“A Dream Come True for Agencies”

In my opinion Campaign Monitor truly canes the competition out there, it’s cheaper, easier, and for agencies it’s a dream come true. Ben Pujji, Pujji like Gucci

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Tips on Effective Segmenting

As many of you know, Campaign Monitor makes it easy to create segments of subscribers within a larger subscriber list. This makes it much easier to target specific types of subscribers based on their demographics, preferences, etc. While creating a segment is easy, choosing the right segments and executing on a good segmentation strategy is much more challenging. Stephanie Miller recently put together a whole swag of tips on the best approach to list segmentation, specifically focusing on capturing the right data during the initial subscribe process. Well worth a read if you’re currently segmenting, or looking for a good place to start.

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New Feature: Keep Track of Your Unconfirmed Subscribers

If you’re using double opt-in for your subscriber list (which we recommend), you’ve now got the option of seeing which subscribers have completed your subscribe form, but haven’t actually clicked the verification link. Unlike single opt in, double opt in requires your subscribers to validate their email address before being added to your subscriber list. When a new subscriber completes the subscribe form on a web site, an email is immediately sent to the supplied address containing a verification link. To complete their subscription, that person must click the verification link. From today, you can quickly see if any potential subscribers have failed to take that final step and click their verification link. This is handy for spotting potential form entry errors like a mis-typed email address. This feature also helps to identify any potential delivery issues with your confirmation email. We allow you guys to specify your own from name, from address and email content for the verification email. Make sure you always use valid from details and avoid potentially spammy words in your email content.

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