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Vol. 1 issue #74  Aug 5, 2003

 

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How to Create and Send HTML Email
2003 By  Herman Drost


Until recently text-based email was the most popular way to communicate, however with the advent of HTML email you can now create and send beautiful graphics, create clickable links and use interactive forms.
HTML email can have the same appearance as a web page. You can include your favorite photos, create colorful newsletters or charts for your friends or business associates.

It's now often used as a valuable tool in email marketing campaigns.

HTML email has now surpassed text-based email in popularity.

Read this survey on email format preferences and programs.

Let's first point out the pros and cons of sending HTML email before we get into how to create it.


Pros Of Using HTML Email

 

  • Visually appealing
  • Able to include graphics, icons, clickable links, different fonts, interactive forms.
  • Increased interactivity with your customers.
  • Mostly used by advertisers, however more consumers are using HTML email as they switch to faster connections.
  • Ads can be more effective in HTML.
  • Most of the popular email clients now support HTML email (i.e. Outlook Express, Outlook, Eudora, Netscape Communicator, Hotmail, Rocketmail, AOL, Yahoo, Web TV).


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Cons Of Using HTML Email

 

  • Slow loading due to downloading of graphics.
  • Takes up more space in your email client.
  • Not all computers support HTML email.
  • Users may not have the required bandwidth or may have download quotas set by their ISPs.
  • Hackers can send viruses, trojan horses embedded in HTML email.
  • Users may turn off the option to receive HTML email, or use filters to quarantine it.



1. Create a new directory on your web site
i.e. http://www.ihost-websites.com/htmlmail where /htmlmail is the new directory for all your HTML email files. Your files should include all the graphics and HTML pages you want to use.

2. Open your favorite HTML editor
i.e. FrontPage, Dreamweaver to create your new HTML email (you can also use MS Word 97 or 2000 but it tends to bloat the code a little).

3. Create a new HTML email page, name it (i.e. newsletter.htm) and save the page in the new directory you created above: (i.e. http://www.ihost-websites.com/htmlmail/newsletter.htm)

4. Keep your design simple - your audience will be viewing the HTML email document in their Email application, not a Web browser. You have no control over how large or small a window the person will use to view your document.

Don't use javascript, flash, style sheets, framesets rollovers or nested tables. Your beautifully created HTML email page, may not render well for your recipients.

Limit your use of graphics so your viewers will not have to wait long to download your document in their email software.

5. Create and store your graphics (i.e. images, icons, fancy fonts) on a web server to correctly appear in your recipient's email software - you could save it as an attachment, however most folks will not open the attachment (and delete it) especially if it's from someone they don't know.

If you don't want to use graphics, you could use colored tables for different sections (i.e. header, masthead, contact information and footers).

This will enable you to create HTML email without using a web server. Keep in mind your HTML email won't be as attractive as the one which includes eye-catching images.

6. Always use absolute URLS for your graphics and links. Your readers are all going to be at different locations, so you need to use absolute paths in an HTML email to ensure that the images display and the links work. (i.e. http://www.ihost-websites.com/images/header.gif). It's best to first complete the design of your images using relative URLs, then when you are finished, change the relative URLs for the images into absolute URLs.



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7. Upload the HTML email folder (which includes your images and HTML pages) to your web server.

Now you are ready to send your HTML email document.

8. Open your Email Software - in outlook express (since it's the most popular) go to create mail - insert - text from file - scroll to your saved HTML document.

9. Email a test to yourself before you send it to your subscriber list. You may want to send it to your friends who have different email programs so you can be sure most of your subscribers can read it on their computers.

10. Once you have created an attractive HTML page or newsletter, save it as a template. Now you can just open the template whenever you want to send HTML email and most of the work will be done for you.

HTML email is still rather new, but it is a great marketing tool if used properly. The key is to test, test, test to see if your subscribers prefer it over text based email. If you are unsure your subscribers can read HTML email, then offer both text-based email and HTML email, to cater to both audiences.

In my Part 2 of this article, I will discuss "How to create and send an HTML email form" to increase the interactivity of your subscribers and boost the response rate in your email marketing campaigns.

Resources Mailing software that supports HTML email:

Group Mail - free version allows a list of up to 100.

Add2it Mailman Pro

Free HTML Templates



-----------------------------------------
Herman Drost is the author of the NEW ebook 101 Highly Effective Strategies to Promote Your Web Site. Subscribe to his Marketing Tips newsletter for more original articles. You can read more of his in-depth articles at: http://www.isitebuild.com

 
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