Thursday, June 22, 2006

Email newsletters

As we all know email newsletters have been around for sometime and despite the growing use of blogs, RSS etc many companies are still using email newsletters as a communication and marketing device, either internally of externally.

I'm personally not a big fan but they can still be used effectively if the content is what the user has opted-in for. Generally I find they work better as providing drivers into web (or intranet) content rather than regurgitating content that is availble elsewhere. Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox is an email newsletter/reminder that works very effectively without the need for HTML.

But from branding point of view it really doesn't do much.

One of the major issues continues to be the inability for email programmes to display HTML (or CSS) in consistent ways. While browser compatibility issues are slowly being resolved the same hasn't happen for email.

Having worked on HTML email newsletters for numerous companies, despite testing and testing for a whole variety of email programs, it has been near impossible to get a consistent display across different programs and environments.

Web development and design site sitepoint has recently published an up-to-date article by Tim Slavin on the current state of email newsletters. it focuses on differences between some programs and what HTML and CSS issues to look out for.

The article also has numerous links to other supporting information.

The key for success, as always, is 'simplicity'.

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