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Creating html e-mail?
How do I create html e-mail?
brookeln




msg:3451207
 8:50 pm on Sep 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

I should know this, so sorry if this is a dumb question. How do I create html e-mails? I have Googled this to death and still cannot figure it out.

Is it just a matter of writing the html code directly into an e-mail? Because that hasn't worked for me. I've tried it in Outlook with html formatting turned on, and it didn't work.

I know there may be issues with which e-mail client I am using, whether it be Outlook or Gmail or whatever.

Basically I need to put together a newsletter with a banner and links, etc. Please help!

Thanks,
Brooke

 

pageoneresults




msg:3451217
 9:00 pm on Sep 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hello brookeln, Welcome to WebmasterWorld!

How do I create HTML email?

You know, that is an excellent question and one that I haven't seen asked in a while. Anyone out there with "expert level" experience on this?

I do know that it takes a slight different design mentality to create HTML emails. I'll usually look at the ones I receive to see how they do things. I use a third party service to send out HTML Newsletters as they also send an accompanying Text Only Version for those that don't want HTML.

I would like to see a definitive guide on how to create HTML emails from your local Outlook or Outlook Express. If I'm not mistaken, you can pretty much take any web page that has "inline styling" and drop it into Outlook and send that off. I do it regularly.

In IE, go to File > Send > Page by Email

If all worked as planned and the site is set up properly, you should see an exact replica of that page appear in your Outlook email (you'll have to be in HTML mode).

Now, view the source of that and I think there is a good starting point. Yes?

[edited by: pageoneresults at 9:09 pm (utc) on Sep. 14, 2007]

tedster




msg:3451219
 9:02 pm on Sep 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Here's a good reference thread: The Challenges of HTML Email [webmasterworld.com]. It contains links to other releveant information. It is two years old, but the situation has not changed much in that time.

brookeln




msg:3451234
 9:14 pm on Sep 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the quick replies! Tedster, I looked through the thread you linked to and it is very informative. However, I am still stuck at square one... I have been playing around with this, and I have written a simple html file into an Outlook e-mail (with html formatting on) and sent it and all I get is just a text e-mail with html coding. I have tried this with Gmail too.

I'm just not sure where to start. Do I just paste the html into a blank e-mail? Because so far, that hasn't worked for me yet.

I use Gmail primarily as my personal e-mail and I regularly get several html e-mail newsletters and they look fine. However, when I did the test above and sent to my Gmail (and Outlook), like I said, all I got was text.

dukelips




msg:3451583
 11:02 am on Sep 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

mostly people would be using some kind of email software to send mails for multiple users

brookeln




msg:3451726
 5:09 pm on Sep 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

My question is, what kind of software?

And is is possible to just code an html e-mail by hand and send it out through Outlook, Thunderbird, or Gmail?

It seems to me that it should be pretty simple to do this; what am I missing?

Any more ideas?

Marshall




msg:3451737
 5:23 pm on Sep 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

brookeln,

Do you by chance have Office Publisher? It allows you to create and send HTML emails. Otherwise, if you are capable of running asp, I have an asp email script that sends in HTML. I believe I have one in php too, but I have to check.

Marshall

pageoneresults




msg:3451741
 5:34 pm on Sep 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

My question is, what kind of software?

There are all sorts of programs out there for creating HTML emails, most use a WYSIWYG program and follow the "strict guidelines" for designing HTML email.

And is is possible to just code an html e-mail by hand and send it out through Outlook, Thunderbird, or Gmail?

Yes. Adobe have a pretty good explanation of HTML email being created in GoLive...

Adobe GoLive & HTML Email
[golivein24.com...]

It seems to me that it should be pretty simple to do this; what am I missing?

Search for "create html emails" in your favorite SE. You'll find a host of results that are all relevant to what "you are missing".

Any more ideas?

Yes. Based on questions to date, I might suggest that you utilize a third party service to handle your email campaign management until you've fully understood the Pros and Cons of sending HTML email. It is not all that it is hyped up to be. In fact, HTML email in this day and age may be more of a negative than a positive.

Ever notice that when you receive HTML email in Outlook that all the images are broken? And, you have to right click to allow those images to be downloaded? That is one of the main Cons that you'll be faced with. There are many security issues for recipients when receiving HTML email.

With a third party service like Constant Contact, many of your concerns will be null and void. You can send both HTML and Text versions which is the suggested method. You'll also be able to track the effectiveness of your email campaign, who opened it, which links were followed, Opt-Outs, Spam Reports, etc.

HTML email requires a "back to basics" mindset. A few tables set to 80% width. All absolute URI references. Inline Styling is mandatory. No fancy schmancy stuff. Keep it very simple. The more HTML you have, the less likely it is going to get read. Anything with images and/or anything that requires the user to allow content from the Internet to be downloaded presents issues.

Sending the Email from Outlook Express for Windows

To send an HTML Email from Outlook Express for Windows, complete the following steps.

  • Choose File > Select Stationery
  • Navigate through your hard drive and select the HTML page you made.
  • Press Okay.
  • Give your Email a subject line, fill in the To field and send.

Something I've done over the years and continue to do is send plain text email with links to expanded content online. This gives me the ability to add more content to my site and at the same time provide an online archive of my email campaigns. I do it every day with great success.

I also use that same mentality when setting up HTML emails using Constant Contact. I keep things simple, very minimalistic, and provide links to an expanded more visual presentation if the users wish to see that. There are also many other Pros to this approach. You can now get people out to your site and have much more control over tracking the effectiveness of your campaigns.

brookeln




msg:3451756
 6:14 pm on Sep 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thank you Marshall and pageoneresults! Very useful information.

Personally, I wouldn't be using html e-mail for myself, but I have two clients who want it.

I know about Constant Contact, but I would like to know how to do it myself for small groups. I also don't like the idea of paying a company to do it, and I don't like their little advertising logo at the bottom of the e-mail.

Well I am going to experiment with the tips you gave. Thanks for all your help.

RandomDot




msg:3451771
 6:34 pm on Sep 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you use Microsoft Outlook, (NOT express) then you would just have to design a template email with for instance a linked banner, basic layout and links you will want in every email. Then save that.

When you need to send out a newsletter you just pull out the template email, put the contents you want in it into the layouted frames of it, add any links/other contents appropriately and then send it to the people who has requested the newsletter to be sent to them.

Easy, especially for smaller audiences.

rocknbil




msg:3451781
 6:53 pm on Sep 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

From a programmer's view . . . .

If you send html emails from a website, you must specify the content-type as text/html, and specify a MIME version. The default is text/plain.

print MAIL "To: $to\n";
print MAIL "From: $from\n";
print MAIL "Date: $mail_time\n";
print MAIL "Content-Type: text/html; charset=US-ASCII\n";
print MAIL "MIME-Version: 1.0\n";
print MAIL "Subject: $sub\n";
print MAIL "$msg";

There are many modules that handle this, the easiest to use (for perl) is Mime::Lite. This example is a multipart email that allows you to send an HTML email with an attachment.


$msg = MIME::Lite->new(
From => "$from",
To => "$e",
Subject => "$subj",
Type => 'multipart/mixed'
);
$msg->attach(
Type => 'text/html',
Data => "$content"
);
$msg->attach(
Type => 'application/octet-stream',
Path = "/full/path/to/$file",
Filename => "$file",
Disposition => 'attachment'
);

You can include CSS in your html email as well, had pretty good luck on "most" email clients. Safest is to use inline styles.

In both of these methods you should make sure your message contains an HTML opening/closing tag or SpamAssassin will mark up your score: "mail is text/html, but contains no html tag."

I know this is contary to what is popularly believed but I've been experimenting with this recently. My main customer is an Outlook user and in my limited testing we've experienced none of the issues I've read about - the program does not strip his doctype, it does not strip his html headers and footers, and a CSS sheet at the head so seems to work fine.

This applies to web mails like Gmail and Yahoo as well - the problem with those, unfortunately, is that any html email appears to go straight to the spam box, and when you do open it, it will not show images unless you tell it to.

Still working on how to send a multipart that renders text first and html optionally, haven't cracked that nut yet.

penders




msg:3451795
 7:19 pm on Sep 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

(I started writing my post ages ago, went and had dinner yardy yardy... and since then others have posted and possibly answered, anyway my 2 cents....)

brookeln: How do I create html e-mails?

brookeln: I have been playing around with this, and I have written a simple html file into an Outlook e-mail (with html formatting on) and sent it and all I get is just a text e-mail with html coding.

By the sounds of it, you are trying to type your HTML directly into the body of the email message using your email client (Outlook in your case). However, most email clients will assume that whatever you actually type in or plain text that you paste, you want to send verbatim (even with HTML formatting turned on).

So, if you type:
<b>I want bold</b>

Your email client will cleverly turn this into:
&lt;b&gt;I want bold&lt;/b&gt;

That is if the email is actually sent as an HTML email with a 'text/html' Content-Type header.

If it is sent without HTML formatting turned on, then the HTML tags you've typed will not be encoded (as &lt; etc), but it will send a Content-Type header of 'text/plain' anyway, so your message will appear as is when it is read by your recipient.

IMHO, if you are creating an HTML (or rich text) email directly in your email client then you need to use the tools that your email client provides in order to create your email - it then somehow knows not to encode the HTML!

If I'm not mistaken, you can pretty much take any web page that has "inline styling" and drop it into Outlook and send that off.

I rarely use Outlook, but this works in Thunderbird if you select the actual webpage you see in the browser (not the HTML per se) and paste it into the body of a new email message. You don't see the HTML, but the formatted page.

In IE, go to File > Send > Page by Email

Thunderbird 'attaches' the HTML page as a standard attachment. However, the person who receives this *may* see this inline, depending on their email client.

By the sounds of it you need an HTML editor that has a built in email client, rather than an email client that enables you to do rich text emails (and hides the HTML).

Mr Bo Jangles




msg:3451872
 9:04 pm on Sep 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

CampaignMonitor is superior to ConstantContact IMO - and there is no logo of theirs displayed or anything to disclose they are sending it.

They also have lots of hints and templates st their site.

One hint - of all the HTML e-mails you receive, if you like one of them, 'structure wise' then copy the HTML code of that and make some modifications to suit your purpose. Will save a deal of work. For example, I used a Macromedia marketing e-mail sent to me as my 'influence' for my own design *_*

penders




msg:3452161
 10:55 am on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

With a third party service like Constant Contact... You'll also be able to track the effectiveness of your email campaign, who opened it...

I have always assumed that in order to be able to check whether an email has been opened they would rely on a small image being requested from the server? If images are disabled (or even removed) in the email client how can this information be reliable?

jsinger




msg:3452248
 2:26 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I get many html emails where the images don't show up. Usually the authors link to files on their own computers.

I once tried html for our commerce site's newsletter. It was much harder to create and showed no better response than plan text which we returned to using.

borntobeweb




msg:3452293
 3:56 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

There's also phplist. I haven't used it myself but one client uses it quite effectively to send html newsletters. You'll need a bit of technical expertise to install it on your server (php, mysql, etc).

penders




msg:3452316
 4:30 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

With a third party service like Constant Contact... You can send both HTML and Text versions which is the suggested method.

Yes, I would certainly include a plain text (Content-Type: text/plain) version in with your HTML email as certain SPAM filters will throw up an alert if not... "WARNING: There is no plain text section".

pageoneresults




msg:3452330
 4:52 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

We have another topic in Supporters titled...

Hotmail Thinks I'm Spam - but I'm not! Help!
[webmasterworld.com...]

If you are a Subscriber, I'd suggest reading that topic and following the links provided for an article on getting your mail delivered to @hotmail, @gmail, etc. accounts. It's an excellent read and chock full of information, testing sites, examples, etc.

spina45




msg:3452334
 5:06 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

For what it's worth... I have been creating HTML newsletters for years using MS FrontPage. I get it all nice-looking then copy the code into whatever email blaster I use. Currently I use Campaign Monitor.

Something I've noticed over the past year is that many people have images turned off in their email programs so the newsletters look horrible unless they decide to "click" images ON. Also, it seems that spam filters may be configured to recognize emails formatted as newsletters (images, etc.) and toss them into the junk folder. I mention this because my Open Rates (i.e. sales!) were falling every month. About 6 months ago I switched to very short "teaser" text-only newsletters (no HTML) but include a link to the imaged-heavy newsletter located on my website. This has increased open rates and if I spot an error after sending I can fix on my site before everyone sees it.

Mr Bo Jangles




msg:3452344
 5:49 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

About 6 months ago I switched to very short "teaser" text-only newsletters (no HTML) but include a link to the imaged-heavy newsletter located on my website.

This is exactly what I do now - a year ago sent out full HTML e-mail newletter, now do above.

Oliver Henniges




msg:3452373
 7:41 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have the impression that this thread is a bit like explaining the emperor's new clothes: brookeln, in addition to the very sophisticated hints of all posters let me add that outlook express automatically formats your mails with html.

Just make a quick test with a short mail, insert a link and an image and an appendix if you want, and then send it to yourself. Then open that received mail with right-click "properties", click on "details" and then "source code". There you should find two major parts after the header-data: the html code, which outlok express has created, and then the alternative plain text for those recepients, who might have disabled html in their mail client for security reasons.

As randomdot mentioned you may simply create a sample mail, save it, and reopen and sent it to those of your customers who asked for an html-mail as often as you want.

Is there anything you wanted to format, that outlook doesn't do?

mrjohncory




msg:3452384
 7:59 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I would really urge people to check out Campaign Monitors' SUPER-INTENSE guide to rendering correctly across multiple email readers.

At my last job I was sending about 4 to 5 HTML email blasts to 20,000+ people at a time and always had to check about rendering across Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook, AOL, etc. The campaign monitor guide really helped me out and it's free. I ain't plugging them though so don't give me any crap, I was with another service. Just saying this because I hate receiving HTML emails that don't work right because peeps don't know how finicky the different readers can be.

D_Blackwell




msg:3452405
 9:19 pm on Sep 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

About 6 months ago I switched to very short "teaser" text-only newsletters (no HTML) but include a link to the imaged-heavy newsletter located on my website.

Owner wants newsletter because that's his hot thing right now:)) Competitors use them (not very effectively, IMO), so now we have to have one (newsworthy news or not). One competitor is extremely heavy in HTML and image presentation. While there is some useful information, it is jam-packed full of filler junk; image heavy, and they are blocked by default often as not, so looks terrible until you okay the display. Another uses attached .html that is completely broken 50% of the time. Strongest competitor does not use newsletter marketing technique at all.

I am strongly selling the above technique. A simple, friendly 'Hey, our newsletter is available.' email (double optin signup, so they will already be happy customers that we want to protect our relationship with) - with links to .html onsite, and also print ready PDF version link on that page for those who think it worthy.

More concerned about getting the emails delivered than presented - unless I get handcuffed on the final presentation decision. Short text only email should be easiest to send without a lot of extra hoop jumping.

piatkow




msg:3452669
 11:56 am on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

I went over to using a short text email linking back to the site years ago.

I get thank you messages from cutomers with the text, I only had complaints (not many luckily) when I used html.

Not a scientific survey but good enough to make me stick with plain test.

puremetal




msg:3454834
 1:13 pm on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

i might be a bit late to the topic, but i've had similar problems. i haven't wanted to pay to get my emails out, as i don't send them regularly enough to warrant the cost. i HAVE found a way to do it well in Outlook

1. start a new email in Outlook

2. Make sure the Web Tools toolbar is showing

3. Click on the message body

4. Click on the Microsoft Script Editor button (little multicoloured infinity sign in the Web Toolbar)

5. This opens up a new window for the script editor. Scroll down to the <body> tag and paste your HTML from a pre-designed (eg in Dreamweaver) page between the body tags

6. Close script editor. Your email should now look about right for the webpage.

7. Send it!
sending to multiple people is not too easy in Outlook unless you want to show all recipients all other recipients' emails... but its the price you pay for doing this on the cheap.

You'll probably need to play around with the HTML to get something that looks right and which works in different email clients (eg Gmail doesn't like bg colours much). Don't forget to keep it simple...

Also, don't forget to upload images to a domain and link the SRC to them rather than embedding them in the email itself.

Not the prettiest or best solution ever, but it works and its free!

Oh, and you'll have to manage your opt-out lists, etc, yourself.

Marshall




msg:3455027
 3:53 pm on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

sending to multiple people is not too easy in Outlook unless you want to show all recipients all other recipients' emails

In Outlook you can create a Distribution List: From MS Outlook Help:

"A distribution list is a collection of contacts (contact: Person, inside or outside of your organization, about whom you can save several types of information, such as street and e-mail addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and Web page URLs.). It provides an easy way to send messages to a group of people. For example, if you frequently send messages to the marketing team, you can create a distribution list called Marketing Team that contains the names of all members of the marketing team. A message sent to this distribution list goes to all recipients listed in the distribution list. You can use distribution lists in messages, task requests, meeting requests, and other distribution lists."

Using this, create an email account say newsletter@yourdomain.com. With this account, in the Name Field, put Newsletter Recipients (or something like that) then send the newsletter to Newsletter recipients and BCC the Distribution List. Your only limitation is how many emails your host allows you to send at once. if necessary, create multiple lists. This is actually a handy feature.

Type Distribution List in the help menu of Outlook for complete details.

Marshall

D_Blackwell




msg:3455036
 4:07 pm on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

Your only limitation is how many emails your host allows you to send at once.

Is there a guesstimate as to what would generally be considered safe and reasonable? No point in inching right up the line and finding avoidable troubles.

if necessary, create multiple lists.

If this list is large (leaving that definition open), is there a number per day that would be considered safe and reasonable?

puremetal




msg:3455056
 4:27 pm on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)


In Outlook you can create a Distribution List: From MS Outlook Help:

"A distribution list is a collection of contacts (contact: Person, inside or outside of your organization, about whom you can save several types of information, such as street and e-mail addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and Web page URLs.). It provides an easy way to send messages to a group of people. For example, if you frequently send messages to the marketing team, you can create a distribution list called Marketing Team that contains the names of all members of the marketing team. A message sent to this distribution list goes to all recipients listed in the distribution list. You can use distribution lists in messages, task requests, meeting requests, and other distribution lists."

Using this, create an email account say newsletter@yourdomain.com. With this account, in the Name Field, put Newsletter Recipients (or something like that) then send the newsletter to Newsletter recipients and BCC the Distribution List. Your only limitation is how many emails your host allows you to send at once. if necessary, create multiple lists. This is actually a handy feature.

Type Distribution List in the help menu of Outlook for complete details.

Marshall

Thanks Marshall! I've typically exported a list of emails from a database and used that (copying & pasting) in the BCC field, which is a bit of a pain. Setting up a list like that would save time for sure, but wouldn't always be up to date... ah, you can't have everything can you? :-P

My ISP limits outgoing emails to 100 at a time, which makes this process very time consuming, especially in that - in the method I outlined above - you have to paste your HTML afresh for each batch of 100. Maybe a distro list would speed things up a bit... thanks!

Marshall




msg:3455065
 4:32 pm on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

D_Blackwell,

This varies with hosting companies. Some limit per hour, some limit per day, and some per batch. I have seen upwards of 500 per mailing, but you would have to check with your hosting company. Beyond that limitation, it has the advantage of not costing anything, but the disadvantage of it can be time consuming. I use this technique for limited mailings and in each email, I include an opt-out link, which is nothing more than a special email address, generally optoutlistA@mydomain.com. Since I have multiple email accounts, I can assign an optout email account for each list. The fact it comes in on that specific account, I know immediately what list it is, then all I have to do is delete their name from the Distribution List.

Marshall

Lilliabeth




msg:3457456
 6:44 pm on Sep 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

I create the page using an HTML editor and then I publish it to the website.

Using IE, I navigate to the page, then File > Send > Page by Email.

This 32 message thread spans 2 pages: 32 ( [1] 2 > >
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