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Free HTML Email Templates

We often get asked by new customers if we have any sample email templates they can check out to get started. We’re psyched to say, of course, we do! These email templates cover everything from a simple announcement email to an email newsletter and much more. If you’re looking for some further inspiration to get the creative juices flowing, our design gallery has now grown to 100 awesome examples of emails from some of the best-known companies on the planet. Plus, we’ve got a helpful post on the 4 ways email templates make your email marketing better.

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Image Based Spam on the Rise

I’ve seen quite a few mentions about the growing problem of image based spam on the web and unfortunately in my inbox of late. I knew image-based spam was getting worse, but this statistic in a recent USA Today article blew me away:Image-based spam accounts for 21% of all spam, compared with just 1% in late 2005.It’s only a matter of time before spam content filters respond by coming down even harder on predominantly image based HTML emails. With the difficulties of coding a consistent design across all email environments, it’s little surprise that some designers are still opting for an image-heavy approach to their emails. With the continued popularity of email clients turning off remote images by default, and the continual tightening of content filtering rules, this just isn’t an option any more.This is another notch in the growing list of reasons why you should avoid heavy use of images in your HTML email designs.

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Tip: Should You Personalize Your Subject Lines?

Campaign Monitor makes it really easy to personalize the subject of your email with your subscriber’s name and email address. The big question is, should you do it?Here’s some nice research from MediaPost’s Melinda Krueger on some recent tests she performed on this very topic. The results were very positive. So positive in fact that every campaign that had a personalized subject achieved a better open rate and often click-though rate.But before you start personalizing every email you send, she also had these important words of advice:“Beware of forcing personalization. Gratuitous personalization can make you sound like a huckster and detract from your message and your brand. Even though these results are pretty impressive, this client did not use personalized subject lines 100 percent of the time.”Let’s also not forget that the option to even consider personalization depends on the quality of your list. There aren’t many bigger email marketing mistakes than to receive a personalized email with someone else’s name.Our recommendation. If you’re confident in the quality of your subscriber name data then try this for your next campaign. See if there was an improvement in your open and click-through rate and make a judgment call yourself.

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Can I Include a Print Stylesheet in My Campaign?

We’ve published a follow-up post with more recent results – view it here.We recently had a few customers approach us about print stylesheet support and whether or not they can include them in their campaigns. We weren’t sure either, so we did some testing to get to the bottom of it once and for all.What is a print stylesheet?Quick background, print stylesheets basically allow you to set a different set of CSS rules when you print the page to the one you see when viewing it on screen. By specifying a print stylesheet for our newsletters, we could ensure when a subscriber prints our email they see a much more print friendly email that might use simpler formatting and even hide some elements of the email itself.The testBecause most email environments won’t let us link to an external CSS file, we used the @media rule to specify our print only styles (more on this here). Here’s a quick sample of the code we used:<STYLE type="text/css">@media print { p.printme { font-size: 10px; color: #f00; }}@media screen { p.printme { font-size: 40px; color: #000}}</STYLE&gtThe resultsEmail client@media print { … }media=”print”Apple Mail 4YesYesOutlook Express/2003YesYesOutlook 2007/2010NoNoThunderbirdYesYesYahoo! MailNoYesGmailNoNoWindows Live HotmailYesNoAs you can see, the results were quite varied. None of the web-based email environments supported the print-friendly version, but most of the desktop environments did. Ultimately, we can put this down to lack of support for the @media rule. Unfortunately, since none of the web-based environments support the use of the link element for embedding external stylesheets, the @media rule is the only option available.ConclusionFrom our quick tests it appears that including print styles via the @media rule doesn’t do any harm in email environments that don’t support it (as they are ignored completely). If you’re sending an email like an invitation with specific details or any other kind of email your recipients are likely to print, you may want to consider adding a few print specific styles if it will make your email easier to read.If any of you guys have had other experiences with print stylesheets and have anything to share, I’d love to hear it.

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We’re a Finalist for the 2006 Copernican Awards

Whoah! We just found out that we’ve been selected as finalists for Creative Good’s 2006 Copernican Award. Here’s what they’re all about:“The Copernican Awards are awarded annually to top companies and organizations that succeed by putting customers at the center of their ‘business universe’.”It’s an honor to be in the same company as the 16 other amazing finalists, such as Google, Threadless and del.icio.us. It’s been an amazing 18 months since we launched Campaign Monitor. We’ve made loads of friends around the world, helped almost 10,000 customers with their email marketing and even contributed to a book or two.We’re heading to New York in a couple of weeks for the awards dinner, and we look forward to catching up with plenty of you guys while we’re over there.You can check out more about the award here.

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A Guide to CSS Support in Email

Update: This study has since been superceded by the new and improved 2008 EditionSince the rise of Internet Explorer, web designers have had to test their designs across multiple web browsers. No one likes it, but we’ve all copped it on the chin, written a few hacks and moved on with our lives. After all, 3 to 4 browsers aint that bad – and they finally seem to be getting their act together.If Internet Explorer is the schoolyard bully making our web design lives a little harder, then Hotmail, Lotus Notes and Eudora are serial killers making our email design lives hell. Yes, it’s really that bad.Inspired by the fantastic work of Xavier Frenette, we decided to put each of the popular email environments to the test and finalize once and for all what CSS is and isn’t supported out there.We’ll dig straight into our recommendations based on what we found, followed by the results themselves with a few more details about our findings.RecommendationsBecause of the huge variation of support across each email environment, there really isn’t any one design approach that will guarantee consistency. Instead, you should take a couple of things into account.1. The consistency demands of your clientIf you have a client who understands the challenges you face and realizes that some email environments are just plain old broken (we can always dream), I recommend going for broke and following Mark Wyner’s recent article on CSS design in email (we even include a free template to get you started). This allows you to code your email using moderns standards based design that degrades gracefully for these “broken” email environments.On the other hand if your client demands consistency no matter what, or the CEO’s using Lotus Notes, you’ll have to dull down your design, stick with tables for layout and use only basic text formatting via CSS. You may even have to go down the inline CSS route.2. The potential email environment of your recipientsYou’ll probably need to generalize a little here, because most of us have no idea what email environment each recipient is using.Business to BusinessIf you’re sending Business to Business (B2B) emails, you’re definitely going to have to support Outlook and to a lesser extent Lotus Notes. In a recent survey of B2B readers, EmailLabs found that more than 75% use a version of Outlook and a further 9% use Lotus Notes. The good news is that Outlook’s support for CSS is quite good, but Notes’ certainly isn’t. You’ll need to weigh up the trade-offs yourself there.Business to ConsumerIf you’re sending Business to Consumer (B2C) campaigns, then you’ll definitely need to have Yahoo!, Hotmail and possibly AOL covered. Gmail’s still purring under 5% total penetration, but if you’re targeting early adopters then this percentage will likely be significantly higher.Yahoo and AOL offer very respectable CSS support. Hotmail isn’t too painful provided you include your <style> element in the <body> and not the <head>, while Gmail gives you no choice but to use inline styles only.Further to these concerns, there’s also the issue of image blocking and preview panes, but that’s a whole other article.ResultsDown to the nitty gritty. To cover each email environment, we’ve split our results up into web-based, PC and Mac email software. Use the links below to jump straight to the respective findings.Web-based results – Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! and Windows Live MailPC results – Outlook 2003 and Outlook Express, Lotus Notes, ThunderbirdMac results – Mac Mail, Entourage, EudoraWeb-basedXavier covered the web-based email environments perfectly, but we decided to throw Microsoft’s new Windows Live Mail into the mix to gaze into the crystal ball and see if Hotmail may have a brighter future. The biggest improvement we found being support for the <style> element in the <head> of your page.The <style> elementThe standard place for the style element is in the <head> of the document, but to ensure the styles appear in Hotmail, you can also insert them within the <body>. We tested both, just to make sure.Web-based support for the <style> elementGmailHotmailYahoo! MailWindows Live Mail<style> element in the <head>NoNoYesYes<style> element in the <body>NoYesYesYesThe <link> elementThe <link> element is used to reference a separate CSS file. Web based email environments offer no support for this element, so I recommend playing it safe and sticking with the <style> element for your CSS.Web-based support for the <link> elementGmailHotmailYahoo! MailWindows Live Mail<link> element in the <head>NoNoNoNo<link> element in the <body>NoNoNoNoCSS SelectorsSelectors are used to “select” specific elements on a page so that they can be styled. Besides Gmail, most web-based email environments offer pretty good selector support.Web-based support for CSS SelectorsGmailHotmailYahoo! MailWindows Live Mail*NoYesYesYeseNoYesYesYese > fNoNoYesNoe:linkNoYesYesYese:active, e:hoverNoYesYesYese:focusNoNoYesNoe+fNoYesYesNoe[foo]NoYesYesNoe.classNameNoYesYesYese#idNoYesYesYese:first-lineNoYesYesYese:first-letterNoYesYesYesCSS PropertiesCSS property support ranges from very good (Yahoo!) down to so-so (Gmail). If you want results in Gmail, you’ll need to do your styles inline (<p style="...">this is pretty now</p>) rather than via the <style> element.Web-based support for CSS PropertiesGmailHotmailYahoo! MailWindows Live Mailbackground-colorYesYesYesYesbackground-imageNoYesYesNobackground-positionNoNoNoNobackground-repeatNoYesYesNoborderYesYesYesYesborder-collapseYesYesYesYesborder-spacingYesNoYesNobottomNoYesYesNocaption-sideYesNoYesNoclearNoYesYesYesclipNoYesYesNocolorYesYesYesYescursorNoYesYesYesdirectionYesYesYesYesdisplayNoYesYesYesempty-cellsYesNoYesNofilterNoNoYesYesfloatNoYesYesYesfont-familyNoYesYesYesfont-sizeYesYesYesYesfont-styleYesYesYesYesfont-variantYesYesYesYesfont-weightYesYesYesYesheightNoYesYesYesleftNoYesYesNoletter-spacingYesYesYesYesline-heightYesYesYesYeslist-style-imageNoYesYesNolist-style-positionYesNoNoYeslist-style-typeYesNoYesYesmarginYesNoYesNoopacityNoNoYesYesoverflowYesYesYesYespaddingYesYesYesYespositionNoNoNoNorightNoYesYesNotable-layoutYesYesYesYestext-alignYesYesYesYestext-decorationYesYesYesYestext-indentYesYesYesYestext-transformYesYesYesYestopNoYesYesNovertical-alignYesYesYesYesvisibilityNoYesYesYeswhite-spaceYesYesYesNowidthYesYesYesYesword-spacingYesYesYesYesz-indexNoYesYesNoPCAside from Lotus Notes, all our PC-based email clients behaved very well. All versions of Outlook, Outlook Express and AOL 9 use Internet Explorer to render their emails, so some selectors weren’t supported. This also means you’ll still need to allow for the range of CSS problems IE introduces. Thunderbird scored beautifully.The <style> elementPerfect support except for Lotus Notes, which ignores the <style> element altogether.PC support for the <style> elementOutlook 2003/OEAOL 9Lotus NotesThunderbird<style> element in the <head>YesYesNoYes<style> element in the <body>YesYesNoYesThe <link> elementThe <link> element is very well supported on the PC, the only shortfall being that your remote CSS file will not be loaded if images are also disabled. Once images are enabled, your CSS will also load correctly.PC support for the <link> elementOutlook 2003/OEAOL 9Lotus NotesThunderbird<link> element in the <head>YesYesYesYes<link> element in the <body>YesYesYesYesCSS SelectorsThunderbird scored highly, but because the majority use IE to render your email, selector support is limited.PC support for CSS SelectorsOutlook 2003/OEAOL 9Lotus NotesThunderbird*YesYesNoYeseYesYesNoYese > fNoNoNoYese:linkYesYesNoYese:active, e:hoverYesYesNoYese:focusNoNoNoYese+fNoNoNoYese[foo]NoNoNoYese.classNameYesYesNoYese#idYesYesNoYese:first-lineYesYesNoYese:first-letterYesYesNoYesCSS PropertiesYou can have a field day as long as you’re not sending to Notes. It offers dismal property support that includes only very basic text manipulation.PC support for CSS PropertiesOutlook 2003/OEAOL 9Lotus NotesThunderbirdbackground-colorYesYesNoYesbackground-imageYesYesNoYesbackground-positionYesYesNoYesbackground-repeatYesYesNoYesborderYesYesNoYesborder-collapseYesYesNoYesborder-spacingNoNoNoYesbottomYesYesNoYescaption-sideNoNoNoYesclearYesYesNoYesclipYesYesNoYescolorYesYesYesYescursorYesYesNoYesdirectionYesYesYesYesdisplayYesYesYesYesempty-cellsNoNoNoYesfilterNoNoNoNofloatYesYesNoYesfont-familyYesYesYesYesfont-sizeYesYesYesYesfont-styleYesYesYesYesfont-variantYesYesNoYesfont-weightYesYesYesYesheightYesYesNoYesleftYesYesNoYesletter-spacingYesYesNoYesline-heightYesYesNoYeslist-style-imageYesYesNoYeslist-style-positionYesYesNoYeslist-style-typeYesYesYesYesmarginYesYesNoYesopacityNoNoNoYesoverflowYesYesNoYespaddingYesYesNoYespositionYesYesNoYesrightYesYesNoYestable-layoutYesYesNoYestext-alignYesYesYesYestext-decorationYesYesYesYestext-indentYesYesNoYestext-transformYesYesNoYestopYesYesNoYesvertical-alignYesYesNoYesvisibilityYesYesNoYeswhite-spaceNoNoNoYeswidthYesYesNoYesword-spacingYesYesNoYesz-indexYesYesNoYesMacWhile Mac Mail and Entourage offer fantastic support across the board, I wasn’t surprised to find that Eudora refused to come to the party. Basically, Eudora sucks.The <style> elementGo for it, just ignore Eudora.Mac support for the <style> elementMac MailEntourageEudora<style> element in the <head>YesYesNo<style> element in the <body>YesYesNoThe <link> elementSame old story, no Eudora.Mac support for the <link> elementMac MailEntourageEudora<link> element in the <head>YesYesNo<link> element in the <body>YesYesNoCSS SelectorsMac Mail support was fantastic and Entourage was a close second.Mac support for CSS SelectorsMac MailEntourageEudora*YesYesNoeYesYesNoe > fYesYesNoe:linkYesYesNoe:active, e:hoverYesYesNoe:focusYesYesNoe+fYesNoNoe[foo]YesNoNoe.classNameYesYesNoe#idYesYesNoe:first-lineYesYesNoe:first-letterYesYesNoCSS PropertiesProperty support was also top notch, except for Eudora, with no property support whatsoever.Mac support for CSS PropertiesMac MailEntourageEudorabackground-colorYesYesNobackground-imageYesYesNobackground-positionYesYesNobackground-repeatYesYesNoborderYesYesNoborder-collapseYesNoNoborder-spacingYesNoNobottomYesYesNocaption-sideNoNoNoclearYesYesNoclipYesYesNocolorYesYesNocursorYesNoNodirectionYesNoNodisplayYesYesNoempty-cellsYesNoNofilterNoNoNofloatYesYesNofont-familyYesYesNofont-sizeYesYesNofont-styleYesYesNofont-variantYesYesNofont-weightYesYesNoheightYesYesNoleftYesYesNoletter-spacingYesYesNoline-heightYesYesNolist-style-imageYesYesNolist-style-positionYesYesNolist-style-typeYesYesNomarginYesYesNoopacityYesNoNooverflowYesNoNopaddingYesYesNopositionYesYesNorightYesYesNotable-layoutYesYesNotext-alignYesYesNotext-decorationYesYesNotext-indentYesYesNotext-transformYesYesNotopYesYesNovertical-alignYesYesNovisibilityYesYesNowhite-spaceYesYesNowidthYesYesNoword-spacingYesYesNoz-indexYesYesNo We hope you find these results helpful. Let’s hope that as browsers move forward, ISP’s and email client developers follow suit. It’s our sanity at stake here, right?UPDATE: After an oversight pointed out by Lachlan Hunt, we’ve scaled back Eudora’s CSS support to nil, zilch, zero.

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Fix: Japanese Characters in the Subject Line

A few customers were recently having a problem using Japanese in the subject line of their campaigns. Testing for problems with a language you don’t speak is always going to be a little tricky, so I want to give a big thanks to Jeremy Hedley who’s been extremely helpful in nailing a few issues with Japanese campaigns (even going as far as testing the results across multiple platforms and email clients).So, thanks to Jeremy’s help, subjects with Japanese characters should work fine now – but please be cautious, a number of email clients won’t handle the characters properly. Based on the results of our tests using default settings, the following email clients DO NOT display Japanese correctly in the subject line:OutlookOutlook ExpressHotmail (basic US account)Yahoo! Mail (basic US account)Eudora (PC version only)Lotus NotesThe following email clients DO support Japanese characters in the subject line:GmailMac MailEudora (Mac only)Microsoft EntourageMozilla ThunderbirdUnfortunately the problem isn’t going to go away for good until support for these characters is added to many of the popular email platforms.

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The Best Christmas Emails of 2005

Check out some of the coolest and most original Christmas emails we’ve ever seen delivered.

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What Does It Mean When a Subscriber Has Opened My Campaign Multiple Times?

There are several reasons why a subscriber may appear to have opened your email many times.It’s most often the case that your subscriber simply opened your campaign multiple times. If you’re sending interesting content, then more often than not your recient has come back to look at it multiple times.A subscriber could have a “Preview Pane” feature enabled in his or her email client. In this case, every time the campaign was clicked or scrolled to in the “Preview Pane”, the subscriber’s address displays as having opened the campaign. Find out more about how to design for preview panes.If the subscriber uses the email client to “forward” the email campaign instead of using Campaign Monitor’s Forward to a Friend feature, any subsequent opens by those recipients show as another “open” by your subscriber.The Unique HTML Opened count in your Campaign Snapshot indicates the total number of unique opens for that entire campaign and does not take multiple opens into account.

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Best Practices for Sending to an Older List

Let’s say your client approaches you to send a campaign to Old Faithful, their house list that’s slowly grown over the years but hasn’t been contacted in 12 months or so. Hell, 12 months doesn’t sound that long. You put together the creative and start sending.Things start to get uglyThe campaign’s sent. 40% of your list hard bounce right from the word go. Another 25% unsubscribe immediately. Old Faithful aint what it used to be.Problem 1: 30% is a big numberHere’s a scary fact. Email address churn averages about 30% every year. This means that each year almost a third of your subscriber list will have moved on to a new email address. If you haven’t sent to your subscriber list in a while, you can see how quickly they can become out of date.Problem 2: Permission doesn’t age wellEven if an old subscriber hasn’t changed their address, they might not even remember being added to your list. As web designers, we often forget that registering on a web site isn’t always a particularly memorable experience for most people. If you haven’t been in touch with a subscriber for more than 12 months, chances are the permission they once gave is now worthless.The solution – a permission confirmation campaignIf your list hasn’t been contacted for at least 12 months, you should consider a permission confirmation campaign. This is a simple email that includes:An explanation of how, when and where they subscribed to your list.A compelling list of the benefits of continuing their subscription and a preview of what you’ll be contacting them about in the future. If you can’t say anything compelling then you shouldn’t be contacting them in the first place.A confirmation link the user must click to confirm their subscription. The best approach is to link to a subscribe form for a brand new list. Make life easier by using personalization to automatically populate the form with their existing details.Any subsequent campaigns should only be sent to the new list. Many will argue that this method will lose you a lot of subscribers. I say that if a recipient can’t be bothered to confirm their subscription, their unlikely to be opening, reading and responding to your campaigns anyway.

Blog Post

New Feature: Linking to a Web Version of Your Campaign

While the majority of web based email environments are slowly improving their HTML rendering skills, some are still pretty far behind. I’m talking to you Hotmail and Gmail. Because of this, it can be a good idea to include a having trouble reading this email, click here link in the header of your email.If you’re sending really long newsletters, this is also a good option. Some of your recipients might prefer the screen real estate afforded by a web browser as opposed to an email client. Up until now, you had to create your own web based version and link to it manually. Well, not any more.Introducing the <webversion> tagFrom today, you can use a simple tag to generate a personalized link to a web based version of your campaign for every recipient. This means that even if they’re viewing the web version, we still track how many times they checked it out, what links they clicked on, etc.In your HTML code, just use the tag <webversion> and </webversion> and we’ll do the rest.For example:Having trouble reading this email, <webversion>click here</webversion>.If you’re sending a multi-part email and you’d like to include a link to the HTML version in your text version, you can use the [webversion] tag.For example:Click the link below to read this email in your browser:[webversion]The link will be to our server but will use your personalized subdomain. We’ll also be tracking the clicks on all web version links, so if you’re recipients aren’t using them, you know it’s safe to remove them.

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