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Email Mangling: Are You Seeing What I See?

This is always a hard one to explain to clients: why doesn’t my email look the same on Lotus, Outlook 2000, 2003, etc, on webmail…
MarketingSherpa’s report today, 71% of Big Companies Use Email Marketing But Many Make HTML Mistakes highlights a problem many email campaigns do not address: the mangling of html in different email clients. How do you address this?
One of the most interesting bits of information shared that I have been looking for myself, is a breakdown on types of email client used.

Over the past year I’ve noticed an increase in the number of messages using inline style sheets. Why do I know? Because I’m cheap and have not upgraded to Outlook 2003 or higher so every now and then I get text displayed incorrectly, usually in Times Roman so it mangles the flow of the whole email. I account for a total of 19% of users. Only just over half are using Outlook 2003 or later.
The article has a couple obvious points most readers here will be aware of, talking about the fact Gmail, AOL9 and Outlook are defaulting to not displaying images and therefore you need to get users to add your email address to their address book or “whitelist”. It also provides the statistic that only 15% may do so.
And the two other tips provided are to set up accounts in different email clients and see for yourself what is getting mangled where, unh-huh, and add a link at the top of your message for users to view it online if not displaying properly.
Now you could do what Marketing Mag does, which is send the html as an attachment, but even after all these years, it still bugs the heck out of me they do that. And if you really want to make sure your email is read, just don’t, send a nice, simple html file, and focus on really great copy.

One Comment

  1. Stefan Eyram
    Stefan Eyram October 18, 2005

    This was a great and revealing report. From personal experience, many email marketers “forget” to use best practices and simple guidelines when sending marketing emails.
    My recommendation?
    Pivotal Veracity ( has recently launched a service as part of their deliverability offering that allows email marketers to preview what their emails will look like in the most common email clients (Outlook, Outlook Experess, Eudora, etc.) and webmail solutions (Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc.). This is a very helpful tool to ensure once your email gets through to the inbox it looks the way it should.

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