While many digital marketers are focusing on newer, sexier forms of customer acquisition and retention,

often for little other reason than to be ‘trendy’, many of the wisest heads in the industry are focusing on the ongoing power of email marketing to generate impressive results.

Most daily deals sites won’t even let you see what offers they have unless you give them your email address. When VoucherCodes.co.uk was acquired last month by WhaleShark Media for $40 million, Whaleshark’s CEO Cotter Cunningham stated they were particularly attracted to VoucherCodes.co.uk’s email marketing prowess and database size.

Azam Marketing’s eCRM specialists now manage nearly 12.4 million records, either internal datasets or external ones for the likes of Trinity Mirror and Auto Trader, and in this, the first of a series of blog posts at Azam.info will share their expertise on how to get better results from email marketing. Part 1 of the series gives advice on ensuring your creative looks tip-top when it gets into recipients’ inboxes.

It's not easy ensuring your email creative renders well in all the different major ISPs such as Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL and Outlook
  • Save

An email marketer sees many badly designed email creatives.

Even respectable design agencies are sometimes out of their depth when it comes to designing email creative. It is complicated as ISPs such as Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail, Gmail and Outlook, all render email creative in different ways.

We will look at some of the reasons why you can suffer rendering issues with some ISP’s inboxes and not others.

Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Fireworks are commonly used to slice the creative and replace the image text with HTML coded text using Dreamweaver or alternative HTML editors. Unfortunately this may create a problem with rendering, especially if you have a 50/50 or higher image-to-text ratio.

Some people use CSS for their websites using Dreamweaver. This is usually set automatically within the program. It can be switched off via the options menu within Dreamweaver. CSS is a great language but not for email creatives. Many ISPs strip out CSS coding and if you have it within your creative it may cause fonts and other features to not show the way you wanted.

  • Save

To avoid this, we would recommended you use the standard <font> tags or inline CSS within the email creative. To get to grips with inline CSS here is a website with an excellent tutorial.

If the problem with email rendering is not rectified by swapping CSS with normal font tags here is some more advice:

Normal rendering problems occur when text size is enlarged differently to the email creative. Examples of this may be that you have long text you’re displaying in a relatively narrow column. You use a line of underline characters rather than a horizontal line or div border as a column item separator. You’re using a narrow column, which will widen until it breaks up the images surrounding it. Here are your options:

– Add spaces wherever possible so you get the word wrap you’re seeking.

– Use a narrower font

– Don’t use underlines, periods and hyphens as div box dividers unless you make them short and centred.

– Space columns further apart

Related:   Subscribe to Azam.info with our Magnificent New Email and RSS Feed Service

– Avoid coloured divs so at least one can still tell what the words are in spite of overlap

– Put a link at the top of the email that lets recipients see a version of the creative online

In our next three articles in this series, we will give guidance on improving your open rates, dealing with soft bounces, and ensuring your emails render correctly in mobile devices such as Blackberrys. Subscribe to Azam.info here. In the meanwhile, you may study Nadeem Azam’s presentation on growing and monetising your email database here.

If you’d like to hire Azam Marketing’s award-winning specialist to assist in any way, shape or form with your eCRM, database management or email marketing activities, get in touch by calling +44 (0) 20 7436 4496 or emailing results [at] azam.net