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8 reasons why HTML emails will hurt your marketing efforts

By: Valerie Tay

HTML emails have been around for a while. They look more
professional than their text-only counterparts and
actually generate better click-through rates. For
example, there are studies which show that click-through
rate for text emails for some industries is 7.1% while that
for HTML emails is 10%.

That being said, many marketers are still not keen to
publish in html. The reason: there are many problems
associated with HTML emails that can actually hurt,
rather than aid your marketing campaign. So let’s make
a list of how HTML can be hurtful to your marketing efforts.

1.Different email clients work differently

Internet Explorer (IE) is the dominant Web browsers used by
most web surfers, so when it comes to designing websites,
as long as the site presents well in IE, chances are, most
visitors to your site can view it properly.

Unfortunately, the equation becomes more complicated if we
are talking about emails since there are different types
of email clients (eg., Outlook Express, Eudora, web-based
email clients and so on), each with different capabilities,
settings, versions, etc. that make it more difficult to
predict how your email will look like at the recipients’
end. Generally speaking, the capabilities of web-based
email clients such as Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo! Mail are not
as robust as program-based email clients, so certain
effects that appear all right in program-based clients may
not show properly in web-based clients. Another example
is how some web-based clients cause your re-directs on URL
to break or appear as plain text making it such that links
that are crucial to making the sales do not work. The
worst blunder happens when your recipient receives a
marketing message that they can’t read at all. This is
the case with some email clients such as Pine that don’t
have the capability to read HTML or AOL that can’t
display HTML properly. Consider also the problem your
recipients will encounter if they use PDA and
Internet-capable cellular phone. These devices don’t
support HTML email at all.

2.The problem with printing HTML emails

Some of your recipients like to print their emails and read
them offline for a variety of reasons. The danger of this
to your marketing message is that graphical components in
your HTML email may appear as blank boxes with icons
indicating that graphics should be there, but are
unfortunately not there. When such blank boxes appear, you
are kissing goodbye to the hope that your graphical HTML
email will present a professional image to your
recipients. Instead of looking disjointed and untidy with
blank boxes, your message will have a greater impact if it
has no frills (i.e., plain text), but is presented in a
properly formatted way.

3.Connecting your users to the Internet when they
don’t intend that

Sometimes, the action of opening a HTML email will trigger
a connection to the Internet when your user doesn’t have
the intention to be connected. This results in
inconvenience to your users because they then have to
disconnect from the Internet.

4.HTML emails load slower

Internet users are an impatient bunch. At the very least,
HTML email is twice the size of its text-based equivalent.
This means if you send your ezine in HTML, you tie up
more of your readers’ bandwidth during delivery and
receiving. Some of your ezine’s readers use dial-up.
This delay is much more noticeable to them than to your
broadband-user readers.

5.Security problems with HTML emails

You want to send your recipients your marketing message,
not a virus. The unfortunate reality is that HTML emails
transmit viruses easier than text-based emails. This is
because it is possible for attachments to automatically
execute code without the user opening the attachment.

6.HTML emails are harder to forward

Almost every marketer hopes for her campaign to be “viral”
(that is, your marketing message being passed on from one
recipient to another and another). It’s straightforward
to forward a text-based email from one recipient to her
friends and family. But when one tries to forward a HTML
email to another, incompatibility problems arise. The
forwarded email may not be received by its recipients
looking the same way as it looked when it was first
received by the original recipient.

7.More variables to measure makes it more
difficult to gauge your success

The success of a text-based email marketing message is easier
to measure than a HTML one simply because there are more
variables involved in the success of the latter. For
example, your email may have a poor response not because
the message was badly worded, but because the font you had
chosen is tiring for the eyes. Is your font even readable
by every computer? What about the visibility of your
typeface against the coloured background you have chosen?
The point is: there are so many variables in a HTML email
marketing campaign that it’s difficult for you to measure
what went right or what went wrong in a particular campaign.

8.Do you want to maintain three lists?

Due to the uncertainty of how your HTML email will look at
each recipient’s computer, businesses that choose to go
HTML also have to maintain a text and an AOL version of
their ezines. This means, you have to maintain three
lists, rather than one. If you are a large corporation
with a database-driven mailer that have a “sniffer”, you
can rely on your “sniffer” to tell which recipient is able
to receive which type of email and then send only that
version. But if you don’t have that capability,
maintaining three lists can be too challenging for your
home-based business.

In conclusion, if you don’t know for sure whether the
majority of your readers will be able to receive HTML
emails, send them text messages. If you really love the
idea of having a HTML newsletter, there’s always the
alternative of putting your newsletter up on your website
and providing a link at the beginning of your text-based
email which says, “Click here if you wish to view this
message in HTML”.


About the Author

Valerie Tay is the editor of BizBytes Newsletter. Written in an easy-reading style, this ezine is packed with practical and powerful tips on building, growing and marketing your business. New subscribers receive a FREE bonus eCourse.


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