Secrets to Creating Great HTML For Email Marketing

Creating HTML emails isn’t rocket science but it can be tricky since email programs all display HTML in their own way. You’ll be much happier if you take the time to understand the mechanics of HTML and the basics of creating HTML specifically for emails. Let’s start with a few key points:

  • You’re going to need to understand HTML basics. You can try and avoid this but doing so is like trying to learn a new language without getting some basic grammar in place. Even the best editing tools are not perfect for HTML design so learning how to read HTML and make basic edits is worth the trouble.
  • The HTML you create to send as an email must be much simpler than what you would create for a web page. This is because the various email clients (programs like Microsoft Outlook or the Gmail and Hotmail web interfaces) all display HTML emails differently and do not handle complexity very well. Simpler is better when it comes to HTML for email.
  • It is advisable to test the HTML you create for emails in the major web browsers including, at a minimum, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. If your HTML doesn’t look good in these browsers, it won’t stand a chance in the endless number of email programs your recipients use.
  • Don’t send your HTML emails from your own email server. Not to worry, ClickDimensions uses a dedicated Email Delivery Service Provider that does all the things needed to make sure your emails make it to your recipients’ inboxes.
  • Images in HTML emails should not be attachments but, rather, absolute links to the hosted image files. ClickDimensions email marketing handles this for you automatically by hosting all your image files on our servers.
  • Make sure your emails are no wider than 600 pixels. This is narrower than most web pages but it is safe for the various email programs your recipients will be using to view your emails.
  • Use tables and simple layouts. Think about the typical newsletter. It really only needs to be a header and then a single column or double column where one of the columns is wider than the other. ClickDimensions includes safe base layouts and templates you can start from to create HTML emails that look good in all major email programs. Click here to go to our email templates page. These templates use simple HTML and the code is commented so you can understand what is happening.
  • Start with a table. Browser based email services (e.g. gmail and Hotmail) strip out <HTML>, <HEAD> and <BODY> tags where you would typically include your background color. So, creating a 100% table wrap around your email will allow you to set a background for your email.
  • Never use Microsoft Word to generate HTML for your emails. If you have ever looked at the HTML that Word creates it is full of code that will never look right in email programs. We don’t recommend using this code.
  • Go easy on the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Only use it for simple font formatting and colors and design your email so it would still look OK if the email program removed the CSS entirely (this happens). And, never reference CSS that is external to the email. Any CSS you use must be in the email itself.
  • Stay away from embedded Flash, JavaScript, ActiveX, and other fancy stuff. It won’t work reliably and consistently in HTML emails and will cause more problems than it is worth.

Be sure and check out our email templates. They are simple, easy to understand and will display properly in any email program.