Tips on Formatting Emails

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Here are some email formatting tips for admins who will be creating emails on your site.
 
Email is an excellent channel for communities to establish and maintain valuable relationships with their constituents. Our clients rely on email to communicate to their community. We regularly receive questions about the format or look of emails that are sent to members. Basically, they don't always look as you had anticipated or even how they looked when they were created.
 
This challenge is not unique to iModules and Encompass. Regardless of the email sending tool or creation mechanism, in this case iModules Encompass, the display or rendering of the email depends on the receiving agent or email client and the HTML filter they use to display or render the email. In other words, how it reads and interprets the HTML that comprises your email.
 
In a recent review of email clients on Wikipedia.org, over 47 were listed. And, while Microsoft Outlook is estimated to control 75-80% of the corporate email client market, even this audience is not standardized. Several versions of the Outlook product are still supported, including Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2003, 2007, Live Mail, Windows Mail, Express and Entourage (for Mac).
 
While standards exist, these standards often define only the protocol for basic text and not images, graphics and formatting. Further, many emails clients have been modified to allow special configurations to control spam and other problem email types. Each vendor is free to deploy the filter's they prefer and support is often varied.
 
What are some best practices when sending email from Encompass to ensure readability?    

  • Keep it simple. Although the look of an email enhances the readability, the real magic is in the content. An email that is unreadable or missing graphics will almost immediately be deleted. Likewise, an email with a compelling message will attract the recipient to read the email. Consider targeting your emails to specific groups with relevant copy. Don't get lazy and send the same message to everyone.
  • Test your email by viewing  the email on several email clients or browsers. Encompass offers an easy mechanism to send a test email to multiple addresses before the actual email.       
  • Know your audience and the email clients they use. If most of your email addresses are @yahoo.com or @gmail.com, set up test accounts on both of these free services and send yourself an email to see how it looks. As we all know, most email, both personal and business is read at work, where Microsoft Outlook is the power player. With the most recent release of Microsoft 2007, the rules have changed significantly and elaborately formatted emails may be stripped of all images and special formatting may be converted to simple text. The reason for this, according to Microsoft, is basically security. Removing extra formatting ensures that fewer security risks exist.        
  • Avoid tricks in your HTML and formatting. These will render inconsistently at best or be totally unrecognizable at worst.  More information:  https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/will-it-work/guidelines/

 

A couple of external resources for Email Marketing are https://litmus.com/ and https://www.emailonacid.com/ (others are available as well). These are paid subscription sites but can show you what your emails will look like on several platforms including Apple Mobile, Android Mobile, PC, Mac, Yahoo, Gmail, Outlook, and so on.  

Finally, you can easily get a list of all of the Zip codes within a certain radius at http://www.freemaptools.com/find-zip-codes-inside-radius.htm  After you select the radius, click Toggle CSV to get the zip codes in a list format so they be used in our Data Viewer query building tool. 


Helpful links:

http://www.wilsonweb.com/email/wilson-email-format1.htm
http://www.wilsonweb.com/email/wilson-email-format2.htm
http://www.email-standards.org/
https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/will-it-work/guidelines/
https://litmus.com/
https://www.emailonacid.com/
http://www.freemaptools.com/find-zip-codes-inside-radius.htm

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