Turn the limitations of animated GIFs into an opportunity

A member of our graphic design team here at NetAtlantic recently received this email at one of his personal email addresses:

Turn the limitations of animated GIFs into an opportunity

You can’t tell from the image above, but it’s made up of several of animated gif images, none of which were animating when he opened the email in his Yahoo account. (When viewed through a Web mail client, the image looks like this:  http://cache2.cv47.net/wpm/241/ContentUploads/UploadedContent_9186/images/4pizzas_cropped.gif).

Thoughts on HTML Email Design, Segmentation and Best Practices

In a recent HTML overview presentation I led, an interesting question came up. While I was knee-deep in indicating the various challenges faced in HTML email design because of the many platforms that email can be read on, someone had essentially asked if we needed to bother ourselves with those difficulties anymore. Given that we have the email marketing tools to segment our mailing lists based on a number of criteria, could it be theoretically possible to eschew the many platform dependent limitations that HTML email often has? Couldn’t we just set up targets based on email client and send mailings that were tailored for that?

At first blush, I would have to say that this is a great idea. Why? Because designing for email is pretty annoying. As a web designer, you have to keep up with changes in browser technology, design conventions and updates to the very code we use to make our web creations. That’s just standard practice. However, despite the fact that we may be producing assets in 2013, when it comes to email, unfortunately, you find yourself having to code things as if it were 1997.

Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid: A Look at Our Contest Entries

Our Best Email Design of 2012 contest saw so many more entries than we had anticipated. Our panel of email expert judges had to square away some serious time and focused attention to properly evaluate them and give them all a fair shake. Submissions we received provided a very insightful look into how you all out there were doing in regard to email marketing best practices. Read our last blog post, Best Practices in Action: A Look at Our Contest Entries, about the great things we saw you email-sending folks out there do.

Win $250 – Enter Your Best Email Design of 2012!

You worked hard in 2012 designing email templates that produced high conversion rates, generated traffic to your site and maximized your email marketing ROI. If you think you have created an award winning email, enter to win a $250 American Express Gift Card.

The rules are pretty simple. Send us your design by February 1, 2013. A panel of email marketing experts will review and score the entries. In March, we’ll announce our winners! Read our official rules below and enter today.

Good luck!

Top 10 Things to Test to Boost Email Marketing Results

Email marketers often see their results slipping–fewer opens, a lower click-through rate and a dropping conversion rate–and panic. That’s understandable when the bottom line is at stake, but panicking won’t help you figure out what’s wrong with your email marketing strategy or how you can fix it. The only thing that can help is to test, test, test … and then test some more!

Remember that all 10 things to test below are meant to be tested over time. Don’t try to test too many things at once or too quickly, as you’re results likely won’t be accurate. Here are the main parts of your email marketing to focus on when you decide something needs to change:

Increase Retention, Engagement and Sales with a Special Edition

In my former role as an email marketing manager, I was in charge of publishing a daily email newsletter to more than 200,000 readers. When I started in the job, we were publishing about three times per week, but over the years increased that to mailing nearly every day. Most of our readers were happy to have more content from us, but some felt overwhelmed by the amount of and frequency of the information coming in our email newsletter.

After noticing a drop in retention rates, we decided to create a special weekend edition of the newsletter with a special format and its own opt-in. I authored the issue, writing a topical, timely column each week In addition to the section that I wrote, the newsletter included several special features that only occurred in that issue on the weekend. Over time, readers realized the value of the weekend edition and it eventually became the issue with the highest number of subscribers, highest open rate and highest conversion rate of any that we sent all week.

Improve the Look of Your Email Newsletter in 5 Simple Steps

It’s easy to let your email marketing newsletter get stale. You find a formula that works and send a variation of the same thing day after day, week after week, month after month. But then you start to notice open rates falling, unsubscribe rates rising and higher than normal volume of spam complaints.

If you experience any one of those issues, it’s time to take a look at what you’re doing and make a plan for how to get back on track. One of the best ways to stay fresh is to improve the look of your email marketing newsletter. Here are five easy ways to do just that!

1. Test a new format. Many companies with email newsletters are still sending them in a plain text format because they believe that’s what their subscribers are used to and that they won’t want anything new. This may have been true five years ago, but with the proliferation of HTML emails from companies of all sizes, people are much more used to seeing this format in their inbox. About two years ago, a former client of mine tested a new HTML template versus the plain text format it had been using and discovered that 95% of readers liked the HTML better. And those other 5% were still able to receive plain text because most email service providers allow you to set up both formats when you schedule mailings.

Do Your Images Detract From Your Message?

When designing email newsletters and marketing campaigns, it is important that you consider the limitations presented by email readers. Many users, either by personal preference or email client defaults, are blocking images from being downloaded in the HTML-formatted messages they receive. Thus, it is a good practice for email designers to prepare for both image “off” and “on” scenarios.

Here are some of the basics you need to know about using images in email:

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