Custom email templates are nice – they can be designed to match your website (and other marketing tools) and most all the major email newsletter sites allow you to use your own, rather than choosing one of their pre-designed templates. It looks much more professional than using a generic template that doesn’t quite match your other marketing efforts.
But testing is important! As I’m redesigning Red Kite’s HTML template to match the new website, I’m reminded of this painful fact firsthand. With the plethora of web-based, desktop and mobile email clients out there, designing and coding a custom template that at least looks presentable in the major email software solutions is not easy.
How Do I Test?
Your newsletter service may provide testing tools. This is by far the easiest and best way to find out how your email looks in a large number of platforms. For example, I use Campaign Monitor for all of Red Kite’s newsletters. For a few dollars I can see how my template looks in 27 browser, desktop and mobile email clients. I can also get my and newsletter content tested for spammy-ness.
How Do I Know Which Email Platforms Really Matter?
The best way to find out what email software your readers are using is, again, your newsletter service. They most likely offer reports, and in those reports you should find that information. You’ll probably find that most readers are using one of the later versions of Microsoft Outlook (which is a horrible platform to design HTML templates for), Apple Mail, or Gmail. You might also see phone-based software use increasing.
Don’t waste time and effort tweaking your template for little-used software like AOL – spend it getting it right for the email clients your readers use the most. And always remember to include a ‘having trouble reading this email? Click here to view it in a web browser’ link – your readers will thank you.