Written by Jay Mclain
Bulk email development and distribution can be overwhelming and frustrating. One common challenge is keeping an email’s design intact and consistent across all email clients (e.g., Outlook, Gmail, Apple Mail, etc.). This issue arises because email clients, unlike web browsers, operate completely at the discretion of the application developer, which causes disparities from one email client to another. Outlook, for example, uses a word processor rendering engine instead of a browser. As a result, an email may look great in Gmail but fall apart in Outlook. Go-to email service providers like MailChimp and Constant Contact have not even been able to account for this across the board.
While it is extremely difficult to address these issues 100% of the time, there are some best practices that can be followed to minimize them. Here are several things to keep in mind when creating an HTML email template.
Keep The Design Simple
The first and most important piece of advice to remember is to keep your design simple. Because email clients do not follow a set of standards, each platform varies by manufacturer and even by device. The simplest design will look and perform best across all platforms and devices, no matter how they render the email. Pro Tip: Use software (like Litmus) for testing emails on multiple platforms before sending.
Balance Text & Images
As you design an email template, assume that all images will be initially blocked by email clients or could fail to load completely. Instead of sending an email that is essentially a large image, try balancing imagery and content. Image file size should be no more than 5 MB. If your image exceeds that, try an image optimization tool like TinyPNG, which optimizes both JPG & PNG files. Make sure important content is available as text in your email. Pro Tip: When using images, be sure to insert an ALT TAG just in case the images don’t load on delivery.
Use Common Fonts
By using basic, system-provided fonts you ensure that your email will be legible and easy to read. As mentioned previously, simplicity is the key. Try using one of our go-to fonts: Arial, Verdana, or Georgia. If using a more exotic font choice, the email client may override your email preferences with another font and you may run the risk of further reformatting issues.
Take A Deep Breath
Email clients will reach their true potential when they fully support browser standards. In the meantime, effort is required on the marketer’s part to develop and test custom email templates thoroughly before using them. Until email clients catch up with technology, we suggest focusing on delivering content of value to your audience in a simple, clean way that will render well on most devices. Email is not the platform on which to experiment with complicated designs and large images – not yet anyway!
Email Marketing is one of the many capabilities Reuben Rink provides as a full-service agency. Contact us today to explore how we can help your business develop a strong email presence!