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Lee Munroe is Head of Design at OneSignal and creator of HTMLemail.io, based in San Francisco. More information about Lee↬
How To Send Email From Web Page
Email design and development is a beast. Email client vendors have not been as advanced in adopting the new standards as web browser vendors. Here are some code snippets and resources that we believe will add hours to your life in the world of email building and sending.
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I’ve spent the last few years building development tools – two of those years as product design at Mailgun, an email service for developers, where I learned a lot about how email works and the challenges developers face when building HTML emails. – mail. In this post I will share some of my knowledge on this topic.
HTML email: two words that bring tears to a programmer’s eyes when put together. If you’re a web developer, it’s inevitable that at some point in your career, email coding will be something you either love or hate. HTML email coding is old school. Think back to the 1999s, when we called ourselves “webmasters” and used Frontpage, WYSIWYG editors, and spreadsheets to design our websites.
Not much has changed in email design. In fact, it got worse. With the introduction of mobile devices and more email clients, more attention should be paid to HTML email design.
Check out the Smashing Email Newsletter for helpful tips on frontend, design, and UX. Subscribe and receive Smart Interface Design Checklists – a free PDF bundle of 150+ questions to ask yourself when designing and building
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As a developer responsible for an email campaign or all of your company’s emails, you need to know how email works, legal requirements, and how to send email. Companies send several different types of emails. Let’s take a look.
Many email service providers (ESPs) specialize in marketing and promotional emails: SendPulse Email, Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, Emma, Constant Contact, to name a few. It provides complete solutions for managing subscribers, working with email templates, launching mass email campaigns and reporting.
Email transaction confirmations, alerts, welcome emails, password resets and more. It includes and is typically implemented using development tools and APIs such as SendPulse Transactional, Mailgun, SendGrid, and Postmark. These tools are more API oriented and less CMS and WYSIWYG oriented; however, it can be made even more powerful by combining it with a service like Sendwithus.
An alternative to using a service is to run your own email server with something like Postfix. The downside is that it’s up to you to set it up and configure it and understand the technicalities of sending emails, tracking and unsubscribing, and sending to email folders.
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Lifecycle and behavioral email services help drive onboarding, engagement and more. Most marketing-focused ESPs offer this service, but I include a bunch of services like SendPulse Automation, Intercom, Customer.io, Drip, Vero, and ConvertKit in this category.
Don’t buy email lists. There are probably a few legitimate services out there, but it’s best to stay away from shopping lists altogether.
My experience is that anyone who buys an email list will suffer a lot of traffic, giving away their Internet Protocol (IP) address and having their email blocked by their Internet Service Provider (ISP) or sent to spam. According to SenderBase, 85% of email worldwide is considered spam; don’t fall into this trap.
Requiring a subscriber to verify their email address adds an extra step to the process, but it makes sense and prevents other people from abusing their email address by subscribing to lists without their permission. It also helps keep your subscription list clean and is a “100% valid way to verify your email address.”
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Measure everything. To see if your email is improving, you need to measure it. The numbers vary widely depending on your business, industry, and the type and content of the emails you send. However, in general:
Also, keep in mind that open rates and click-through rates can be useless metrics (read “not really important”). At the end of the day, what you really want to track is the ultimate goal or conversion. At Airbnb, they track email quality score, which is a good indicator of engagement quality.
Your emails have a reputation and score associated with them. This affects how ISPs and mailbox providers handle your email, whether they accept or reject it, send it to the recipient’s mailbox, or go straight to spam.
When you send a lot of emails (imagine a campaign with millions of emails), not all of them are sent at once. They can only be sent as fast as managing servers and IP addresses. Note that your recipients may not be able to send the email
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So if you’re sending millions of emails at once, you’ll need a substantial IP address to handle the load.
Litmus tracks email client market share based on its own internal statistics. Note that this is not the same for the user base, but it is a good indicator to track.
Please note that not all emails can be tracked. Email tracking is done via pixel tracking, so only customers who open images will be logged.
Creating HTML email templates can be tricky. As a result, there are many emails that are not well-crafted – short, boring, wordy, boring and distracting. Whether you enjoy a challenge or want a unique look and feel, building your own can be really fun and rewarding. Alternatively, here are some good email templates:
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Now you know how to properly structure and send emails. The next decision is whether to code your own HTML template. It’s a bit more complicated than coding the average website. Come on.
Email design is still in the dark ages. Due to the large number of email clients and devices, your email will be presented to users in different ways.
In addition, customers will add their own flavor to their style. For example, Gmail does everything
Now, starting in September 2016, Gmail will support more CSS properties, making developing Gmail templates even easier.
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Giants have issues with the box layout and model in various clients – especially those that use Microsoft Word for display (eg Outlook). You can use a div if you want, but it’s safer to code like it’s 1999 and stick to tables. This means:
Some clients (notably Gmail more recently) will strip any CSS that isn’t displayed. Here are some options:
Writing emails as you go is not a scalable or sustainable solution, so I don’t recommend it, but I know many email developers prefer to keep 100% control. If you’re writing your CSS by hand, I recommend using a templating language with parts and/or parts and helpers. This will save you from repeating yourself.
I recommend Node.js module juice for programming inliner. Premailer Gem and Roadie are good alternatives to Ruby.
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Trying to find the perfect customer button is a pain. As mentioned above, you should use tables and table cells for everything, including buttons.
My preference is to use the following solution. Here’s how to create a custom web button:
This is just one way to implement email buttons. Of course, it doesn’t always look the same on every client, but the web isn’t always pixel perfect either. I prefer this because it’s simpler and doesn’t involve using image assets or VML.
What is VML? If you’ve spent any time emailing, you’ve come across references to it. Vector Markup Language (VML) is supported by older versions of Outlook. According to Microsoft, as of Internet Explorer (IE) 10, VML is deprecated, meaning it is no longer supported in newer versions of IE. However, around Outlook 2007, 2010, and 2013, you’ll usually see it used for background images.
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In general, it’s easiest to stick with the standard system fonts. This includes Helvetica, Arial, etc. enters However, we can use web fonts such as Google Fonts. Put them behind the WebKit conditional media requests so Outlook doesn’t confuse them:
Using custom CSS styles, we can show or hide elements and content for different versions of Outlook.
Some clients will display images by default. Some won’t. Keep this in mind when adding images to email content. This also affects tracking metrics, as images will typically be used to track opens.
Text for all your photos. The text can tell the user what the image says or just what it is (for example, “company logo”). You can get creative with alt text for image-deleting clients like email regulars do:
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Animated GIFs are supported in most clients.
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