Friday, October 2, 2009

HTML Email Templates: 4 Good Practices

HTML email templates are a logical next step that has to occur as part of the growth practices of an internet organization. It is a logical step because as you grow, so grows the needs of your customers to hear more from you. Templates are quite simple to acquire and this can be done by either spending a fixed time on creation of email templates yourself or with a team, by indulging in a free template service provider’s suite of products, or simply using a paid service. There are guidelines and rules that you must follow when you take either route or some general guidelines when you use a template in general. These guidelines are detailed out below:

Thinking ahead: This is a point to remember when you are creating sections within your template. These sections or templates with different sections are important because this is where you will place your links and your advertisements that will be clickables to your landing pages. Sectioning should, therefore, be logical and in a certain arrangement. The most prominent and viewable ads should be placed on the left, the lesser priority ones to the right, and the body text content should always be in between. This is because people naturally gravitate towards reading left to right.

Coding: Many HTML email templates may look like they have pretty simple HTML codes but as the complexity and aesthetics of each email increases, so do the coding complexities. This is especially true when you use sections and tables. Some people would propagate the use of WYSIWYG applications like the Office suite of applications to ensure that the coding makes sense to the creator. While this is true, there is much to be said about the accidental-incidental addition of active X controls by software. Active X and JavaScript are naturally blocked by most email clients because they can be used for viral attacks.

Spam filters: Most HTML template service providers and creators don’t think too much about the effect of loudness to trigger a spam alarm. They are more concerned about selling a good looking product. Do not make the mistake of buying the loudest template because you believe that it is an email that you cannot miss. Most spam filters will parse the HTML code in an email and capture the color combinations that are too loud and sequester them to the spam folder.

Costs: Try and make a sensible decision about costs when using an HTML email template. Do not go in for the free option just because it is available and do not go in for a paid service when your needs are very basic. Ensure that you understand the objective of your email and if you are sending it as a part of a billable exercise. Non-billable activities like sending internal mailers to employees can be done using a free template and doesn’t require complex and costly templates to be used. Therefore, keep the big picture in mind always.

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