One Giant Leap Backward - Consistency in (HTML) Email Marketing

2008 January 04
tags: Marketing
by Paul Marcotte
Depending on the complexity of the design, bashing out a pixel perfect cross-browser website is somewhat less frustrating nowadays. Not so for an HTML Email campaign. Aside from the fact that image-suppression is the norm, if you want consistency across most major clients (especially HTML clients like Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail), you're gonna need a time machine. While doing a bit of research on whether it's still relevant to offer users a choice between plain text and html e-mail, I stumbled upon this excellent piece . The discovery was apropos, because I spent the better part of the morning cursing Gmail and it's draconian re-rendering policy for html e-mail. When I read the following bit, I was laughing so hard the crew here was wondering if I'd lost it completely.
I was talking to an email HTML developer the other day, and kept having to make this point: regress your code. It's possible to have a single template render properly in various webmail browsers. You just have to pretend it's 1995.
That gem sums up my feelings completely. Here's hoping the Email Standards Project makes life easier sometime in the future. Since I didn't find a definitive answer on the plain text vs. html e-mail subject, anyone out there with large e-mail marketing campaigns still provide both? If so, what is the primary reason for that decision?