In the realm of email marketing campaigns there is a general misconception that web is the same as print and email is the same as web. All this is far from the reality. To be clear on font, in the print realm, anything goes. However, once in the realm of the Internet there only a small handful of web-safe fonts and even fewer available for consistent viewing in email clients. Below are excerpts from various sources that support this industry standard.
Visibility studies indicate that the best fonts for email communications are Arial 10pt and Verdana 10pt. It is highly recommended not to use fonts less than 10pt under any circumstance. If you decide to send your email message in 12pt, use Arial. Arial and verdana are standard default fonts and are therefore generally accepted. (http://emailgarage.wordpress.com/)
Web Friendly Fonts
Almost all web browsers and email clients are capable of displaying four primary fonts properly: Verdana, Times, Arial, and Helvetica, including their variants (Arial Narrow, Times New Roman, etc.) If a web developer or email marketer decides to use a different font he or she risks compatibility problems and the potential that their pages/emails may render inaccurately when viewed by these people. (http://www.eliteemail.com/glossary/web-friendly-fonts/ )
In order to successfully utilize html text, consider the following tips. To view the fonts you’ve chosen, every subscriber that receives your email needs to have the fonts you specify on their computer. As subscribers will inevitably have different fonts installed, it’s crucial to focus on a standard group that is installed on every computer by default. (http://blog.exacttarget.com/blog/email-design-4/0/0/email-design-tip-of-the-week-use-web-safe-fonts )
A list of browser-safe fonts: http://www.ampsoft.net/webdesign-l/WindowsMacFonts.html
Of course, you may be thinking that you receive plenty of email marketing that uses images as text, so why don’t I just make the whole email marketing into a sliced up image. This is also not best practice. Many email clients have aggressive image spam filtering and image suppression that will essentially deliver a blank page. Please read the following excerpts to further understand the best practices in the email marketing industry when including images as part of your message.
More and more hosted email providers- namely Yahoo Beta and Gmail- are turning off images by default. In advising one client on how best to handle the alt-text, that is the text that shows when an image is “turned-off” by the email server, I scanned two email inboxes and found ten examples that illustrate the various techniques being done out in the field. Covered are: Coit Liquor, Eddie Bauer, Red Envelope, Gap, Avis, Discovery, Peets‘, Macy’s, Fandango and Barnes & Noble. Also reviewed 2 weeks later, “10 Images- 2 Weeks Later.”
Tips: How to Design For Images-Off
- Use of non-image HTML techniques, such as colored background tables and colored text.
- Enticing, clever alt-tags that induce viewers to select “images on”
- Reducing the number of images above the fold
- Not relying on one large image for your email
- For tabbed headers and menu header, using tables and text instead of small images (http://www.banane.com/workblog/ )
According to a recent study by the EEC (Email Experience Council) more than 70 percent of companies struggle to create a deliverable email. After reviewing 1,000 emails, the EEC also found that 21 percent appeared completely blank when images were turned off or stripped by a variety of email clients. An additional 28 percent showed email copy but had no working links.
When a recipient receives an image-only campaign in their inbox with images set to ‘off’, they’ll see nothing but a bunch of bordered squares with red x’s. No content, no message to act on, nothing to pique their interest in your product or service. The chances of the message being deleted immediately are high, and that’s assuming it even got to the inbox in the first place. Great-looking email campaign or not, if it’s image-only there’s a large chance it won’t get read.
Rules of thumb:
- Take the extra effort to create an email campaign that has the right balance of HTML text to images. Keep to the mantra that if images are turned to ‘off’, the recipient can still read your entire message and act accordingly.
- Keep links as text links. Calls-to-action are the key to any email campaign, so ensure these can be seen and clicked regardless of supporting (and blocked) images.
- Never assume that your recipients are savvy enough to add you to their safe list manually and promptly. Work for the lowest common denominator and make your email campaign work on every level.
- Work with your ESP who will work with your ISP to ensure deliverability of your campaign. This will at least give you more of a fighting chance to have your campaign get to the inbox, regardless of content or images.
- TEST TEST TEST. All email campaigns should go through some degree of testing. If you don’t have the time, consider purchasing a rendering service such as ReturnPath/SenderScore, which (as previously noted in my Outlook 2007 posting) can mean the difference between an open or an unsubscribe. Just one sale made by a more compliant and spam filter-ready email campaign can pay for the ReturnPath license, so give it some thought