HTML Email marketing

Hello

Is there a way to send out newsletters with HTML including images that will be properly received by the majority of recipients,  including Hotmail, Yahoo, Outlook, Outlook Express, Gmail, Mac Users, etc?

As a test I signed up for a newsletter and had it sent to my gmail account. Gmail would not display the graphics until I clicked my "okay" to display the graphics, but even then I ended up with a broken image.  (Perhaps this was caused by security settings on my computer, since the same broken image showed up in IE and Firefox.)

Gmail indicated that this particular graphic was being served from the remote server of the newsletter company.  So I am thinking, if I would imbed the graphic in the newsletter itself, would that solve the download/broken link problem???

I realize of course besides the graphics, there is the HTML coding itself.  And I have, like many, have received newsletters where I it looks like HTML "gibberish".  

So is there a global solution to HTML Graphics in newsletters.  Or at least can someone give me BEST PRACTICES when a client insists that they want HTML newsletters sent out.   Are there any good links where I can learn more about this challenge.

Importantly in this case I have no way to ask the recipients if they prefer a plain text or HTML newsletter. All I have is a list of opt in emails that the client wants sent out in HTML.

Thanks

Rowby
LVL 9
Rowby GorenAsked:
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sitecreationsCommented:
You would send the email out using a multi-part MIME interface.  This is a standard method for sending essentially two emails out as one.  An HTML version and a text version make up the two parts of the multipart.  The email header tells the email clients what to do with the information.  If it's a text-only email client, it will discard the part of the multi-part having to do with HTML (that is if it works properly) and so on.

The best method for email marketing is to send the message with the images hosted externally on a fast server, using a domain name that matches the domain name referenced in the marketing itself.  You should use ALT tags that are descriptive about the image so that those viewing the email on GMAIL for example, realize what they're missing.   I've used ALT tags like "This is an image of a young child enjoying Ice Cream with her dad.  Enable images and you can enjoy it too!"

COOL TIP: Not only are you maintaining control over how the image will appear, but you are reserving a tiny bit of control over the email offer itself.  We actually publish a large-ish transparent area on every email where we can turn on an offer late in the campaign just by swapping out the image on the server!    Everyone after that who opens the email sees the new offer!   As the campaign moves forward... let's say, and it's not as successful as we liked, we can change the offer from 40% off to 60% off by changing out a graphic.

Scott
troublemaker

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Rowby GorenAuthor Commented:
Thanks Scott,

Good, practical tips.  Any other comments? I'll leave this open through wednesday and then award and / or split the points.



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sitecreationsCommented:
If your client wants the recipients to all have the same experience, then you can create your text-only version as simply a prompt to open the HTML version as a web page.  Depending on the message, this can be easy or hard.  It becomes like writing a good Pay Per Click ad... :-)

The reason I suspect your GMAIL image was chopped up even after you enabled images was something to do with the table HTML.  HTML for email is very tricky and picky.  It must be stretchy and well behaved right down to the tiny sizes that some people use in their preview box.
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desertcitiesCommented:
Hi Rowby,

First, I would encourage you to educate your client that there's a good possibility he's probably having a certain amount of his HTML emails sent out that are "not" being read.  By default today, most email client programs turn off the HTML version and display the text version.  

This is because of the large amount of spam and viruses that spread around the Internet so frequently these days that ISPs want to protect their subscribers.  So unless the user has their email settings to display HTML and graphics, they will probably just delete your email or it will be deleted, or placed into a junk folder, by the ISP, anti-virus or anti-spam utility program of some sort.

A better solution for you would be to find a mailing program that allows for the double opt-in of subscribers that allows for them to select between HTML and text versions and let the program take care of preparation and sending.  Most good mailing list programs will embed your graphics and place them on your web server and properly create the right HTML code that doesn't raise too many red flags among the mail servers and ISPs.

One such program that I highly recommend is DADA MAIL (formely known as Mojo Mail).  

Check out this comment that explains a bit more:

<http://www.experts-exchange.com/Web/Online_Marketing/Q_21653226.html?query=dada+mail&clearTAFilter=true>

More About Embed Graphics in Email from here:

<http://www.experts-exchange.com/Web/Online_Marketing/Q_21664228.html?query=embed+graphic&topics=342>

If you are forced to use only HTML, you then should embed your graphics (graphics on web server) and also make sure that your HTML code used for your newsletter is properly formatted HTML.  There are many positive reaons for keeping the graphic(s) on your server too.  A practice used frequently if not an attached item or MIME email.

Also, I would do some test messages to various email addresses outside of your IP to make sure they are arriving.  For example, send a test email to a Hotmail, Yahoo, Google and other domain email addresses and make sure they arrive.  You want to be able to keep track of those emails that bounce-back or never seem to arrive.  

Have you considered sending out a text version and include a text link in going back to your site with a color/graphic version of your newsletter?

Good Luck!

Mark

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Rowby GorenAuthor Commented:
Thanks all so far.

I'll award the points on Friday.

Rowby
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Rowby GorenAuthor Commented:
Thanks!
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