HTML is basically nothing more than a web page. It is generally the most common form of coding used in creating email templates, and proper HTML best practices will have a massive impact on the overall effectiveness and deliverability of your email campaign. At American Name Services, we offer a wide range of HTML email templates and creative design services for any email marketing project, but you may also wish to create your own email templates. Following the basic guidelines of HTML best practices in this document will help you achieve maximum returns on your email marketing efforts.
Fundamentals of Creating Effective HTML Emails
- Don’t create huge emails. Most emails will be viewed in the preview pane in Outlook, Gmail, etc., so size matters. Stay between 300-600 pixels wide or use a fluid layout.
- Use tables in your layout. This simple design practice will make it easier for your template to render properly across different email programs. Design your emails the same way you would for IE 5.5 in the old days.
- Test how the email renders in different browsers and email programs. An email will render differently in Microsoft’s Outlook than it will in Google’s Gmail for example. Test all of the major email programs and web browsers (Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, Thunderbird, Apple Mail, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.).
- Have an HTML and plain text version of the email. The receiving end of the email campaign will determine whether an HTML version or plain text version of the email will be displayed, so you will need both. Most email services have the capability of displaying HTML emails, but many users have this turned off by default.
- Store images on your publicly accessible web server. Use absolute paths to point to the images in your HTML code. The faster the images render when opened, the better your response will be with fewer complaints. Avoid attachments as they hog bandwidth.
- Avoid triggering spam filters. Spammy words in the subject line and body of the email will have a negative impact on your deliverability. So will things like having too many images and not enough text, too many links in the email body, poorly written HTML, spammy language in email text, etc. Keep it simple and clean, with an easy to understand call to action.
- Carefully use CSS. Most free email services like Gmail or Yahoo will disable external and general internal CSS by default to make sure it doesn’t override the CSS in their page. If you use CSS, use inline styles.
If you follow these suggestions, you’ll have greater success with your email marketing and its deliverability to your customers and potential clients.