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Top 10 HTML Email Mistakes

Following are some of the top mistakes occurs while creating an HTML email.

Mistake #1: Not testing your campaign enough.
Before you send an email out to your entire list, you should have sent at least 4 or 5 tests to yourself, and to all your test accounts. Whenever we send a newsletter, we send about a dozen tests before sending the final version. You should setup as many test accounts with free email providers as possible (like Yahoo!Mail, Hotmail, and Gmail). You might consider setting up accounts with Comcast and AOL, too (AOL accounts can be setup for as low as $4.95, if you call and ask). Leave them in their default settings. Don't tweak any of their junk mail filters, and don't add yourself to their address books. Check that your email isn't spam-filtered, your images aren't broken, each and every hyperlink works, your CSS is displaying properly, and that your unsubscribe link works.

Mistake #1.5: Did we mention not testing enough?
Test, test test! Remember, once you hit send, there's no "undo."

Mistake #2: Trying to send HTML email with Outlook
Lots of people try sending their HTML email newsletters with Microsoft Outlook, or Outlook Express. This is a big mistake. For starters, Outlook won't send your email in "multipart-alternative" format. Multipart format means that an HTML email is sent with a plain-text alternative embedded along with it. That way, if someone's email application can't read HTML email, the plain-text version displays instead. Also, Outlook will send all your images along as attachments, which won't always work. Images in HTML email must be hosted on a web server, and your HTML code should point to them with absolute paths. Add to all that the fact that Outlook won't help you track email clicks and opens, manage unsubscribes, or process and clean bouncebacks from your list. Finally, using your desktop email application to send email marketing campaigns is a bad idea because your ISP may suspend your account after a certain amount of bandwidth has been reached.

Mistake #3: Using JavaScript or ActiveX in HTML email.
Just about every single email application out there blocks JavaScript and ActiveX from working, as a security measure to prevent viruses. Make sure your code doesn't contain any JavaScript or ActiveX, such as on form submit buttons, pop-up window links, image pre-loaders, Flash movies, etc. If you're copying HTML from an existing web page, make sure you clean the code of all JavaScript.

Mistake #4: Embedding CSS in the wrong place.
Linked CSS files won't always work in HTML email, so you've got to use inline or embedded CSS. Normally, when you code a web page, you put the embedded CSS code in between your tags. But lots of email applications (especially browser based ones) strip out the HEAD and BODY tags of your HTML email, so your CSS will get stripped too. Embed your CSS just above the content, below your BODY tag. If you design web pages for a living, that will probably make you feel "dirty" but trust us---it'll work fine in your emails.

Mistake #5: Over-ambitious CSS, and CSS-P.
Don't even try to use CSS positioning. Sorry, but with HTML email, you're still stuck using a lot of tables and shim.gif's (for now). If you're not an HTML coding pro, and you're letting an application generate your HTML email code for you, just be sure to look through the code and check to make sure CSS is done according to our guidelines. While you're checking the code, make sure there's no DHTML, either (that'll break too).

Mistake #6: Writing like a spammer.
We all get spam. You know what it looks like. The subject lines are IN ALL CAPS, letters are highlighted bright red or bright blue, they SCREAM by using lots! of! exclamation! points!!!! and they use phrases like, "viagra, hottest, best, click now! limited time only!, and act now!" Don't be like that. Keep your subject lines brief and to the point. Keep your content relevant. Don't try to use gimmicky catch phrases. Avoid spammy words.

Mistake #7: Forgetting to track clicks and opens.
So many people worry and fuss over their code, that when it's time to finally send their email campaign, they forget to activate click and open tracking!.

Mistake #8: Not including an unsubscribe link.
Never forget to include an opt-out link in your emails. It's the law. In fact, you might place it near the top of your email, so that if people don't get lazy and click their "this is spam" button instead. You'd be surprised how many opt-in recipients click "this is spam" instead of unsubscribing. They either forget they opted in, or they don't trust that your opt-out link will work. Plus, many of them don't realize that the "junk" button "communicates" with and "trains" other spam filters to ignore your emails.

Mistake #9: Sending emails "out of the blue."
Say you've been collecting email addresses through an opt-in form on your website for years, but you've never had the time to send them anything. One day, you finally find the time to code your beautiful email newsletter, and you're ready to "blast it out to your list." Don't do it. If this is your very first email campaign, and these people haven't heard from you via email before, you need to send a quick "warmup" or "re-invite" campaign, to tell recipients, "We're really excited about our new monthly e-letter, and we just wanted to confirm your email address before we start sending. Click here to subscribe." If people haven't heard from you in years, and you suddenly start sending them emails, they've probably forgotten who you are, nevermind that they opted in. To avoid getting reported for spamming, send a preliminary warmup email to "cold lists" to re-confirm their permission.

Mistake #10: Not using full paths in your images and hyperlinks.
With HTML email, you need to host all your images on your server, then use absolute paths that point back to your server.

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posted by Jansan John @ 1:22 AM,
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At 1:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice Article


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