Practical Ecommerce

HTML Email: Effectiveness Requires Planning

Email can be an essential tool for every online retailer. Professional-looking emails instill confidence, build brand awareness, and increase customer loyalty. Retailers can send email communications using HTML that are as visually engaging and effective. There are a couple of points, however, to consider when sending HTML email.

The first issue to be concerned with is the fact that not all people that get email can receive HTML email. Email messages contain headers that inform email software as to the its format, such as plain text, rich text (i.e. bold, italic and other formatting options), and HTML. In order to guarantee that everyone can receive the information you are sending, make sure that your HTML emails also contain a plain text version. To do this, change the email headers to describe a hybrid email, telling an email application that if it can display HTML, then do so, but if it not, then display the text version. This will ensure that all recipients can view your message.

Another consideration for sending HTML emails is the resources that are needed to display it, such as images. Rather than including all the images and resources required for display along within the email itself, it is more economical to have these images pulled from a web server. By doing it this way, only the HTML source code is sent by email, keeping the message size smaller. When the message is displayed in an email application, the images and resources are downloaded from a web server in the same way that a website is displayed. Make sure that all HTML references to images and other resources are absolute in the HTML email source code. For example, the relative reference to images/header.gif would need to be changed to Since the HTML source code will be sent by email, and therefore have a different location for each recipient, absolute references ensure that the images will be found. Be sure to upload all the required images to a web server prior to sending out the email, otherwise the recipients will see broken images, which will undermine the purpose of sending HTML emails.

Brian Getting

Brian Getting

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