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Are Your Email Designs Inviting or Invisible?

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Note from Kara: John Arnold, author of Email Marketing for Dummies, will be stopping by the Small Business blog every few weeks to talk about simple ways you can improve email marketing for your business.

According to the Email Experience Council, fewer than 50 percent of marketers create emails that render appropriately when displayed on a computer screen. And, one in five emails is invisible and ineffective because of blocked images.

Email programs don’t necessarily read and display html and other design languages the same way that web browsers do. For example, email programs don’t read JavaScript, and Outlook 2007 uses Microsoft Word to render and display the html in your email. In fact, almost every email program behaves a bit differently when it comes to displaying your html email creation.

Instead of worrying about how your email designs display in every obscure email program, design for the majority. This way you can be certain that your emails will render properly for most consumers. According to MarketingSherpa’s Email Marketing Benchmark Guide, here’s what consumers are using to read their emails:

  • 20% use AOL
  • 19% use Yahoo!
  • 15% use Outlook Express
  • 12% use Hotmail

Since each of the above email programs require users to manually enable email images to display on the screen, use email designs that have enough text to identify your business and deliver your main call to action. After you employ a healthy balance between image use and text in any one design, send a test email to each of the email programs. That way you can eliminate any quirky design flaws to assure that at least 2/3 of your audience will see your email the same way.

If you don’t have time to test every email design and work out the rendering details – it would be a good idea to use an email template designed by a professional with a good reputation. Even if you’re an advanced html programmer, starting with a trustworthy email design template and customizing the html in the template will save you from rediscovering the most common email design pitfalls.

The best Email Service Providers:

· Design templates intended to render properly in the majority of email programs

· Have plenty of template options

· Allow you to access the code and style sheet behind the template.

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