Custom eBlast Specs, HTML Guidelines, and Frequently Asked Questions

eBlast Specs


Materials Due: Minimum of seven (7) business days prior to email deployment date
Dimension: 650-pixels width maximum to ensure design is not cut off in preview panes and eliminates the need for horizontal scrolling
File Size: 50K limit to optimize download time and deliverability
File type: A pre-formatted HTML file. We do not accept images, PDFs, or Word documents.
Image URLs must be mapped.
- An example of a proper image map: http://companyserver.com/mappedimage.jpg.
- An example of an improper image map: mappedimage.jpg.
- No spaces within image file name: Incorrect example: mapped image.jpg, Correct: mappedimage.jpg
Advertiser Name: As it should appear in the “From” line -- (i.e.) EC&M on behalf of Advertiser
Email Subject Line: Maximum of 50 characters -- (i.e.) “Act before the deadline”
Test list: Email addresses of people to receive the eBlast tests; agency personnel, advertiser personnel, legal, etc.
Seed list: Email addresses of people to received the FINAL eBlast; agency personnel, advertiser personnel, etc.
Suppression file: (If available) txt., cvs., or Excel file of email addresses that have opted-out of email communications from the advertiser. We are required to ask for this list in order to be in compliance with the CAN SPAM act.
Physical Address of Advertiser: To include in the footer per the CAN SPAM act.
Opt-out link: Please provide the advertiser opt-out link. We are required to include the advertiser opt-out link as well as our own. If you do not have one, we can create one for you. If we are creating a link for you, please include the name and email address of a contact person who will be responsible for visiting the site and downloading the opt-outs to provide for any future blasts.
Text version: (Optional) a separate text version can be provided for users who choose to only accept plain text emails. We normally just send to these users a link to the HTML version, but if the advertiser wishes to send their own unique copy for text-only recipients (a very small % of recipients) then they can.

*All of the above items should be submitted seven (7) days prior to the material due date.
Missing items will delay deployment.

HTML Design Requirements


An effective design should do more than look nice. It should support the message and render correctly. When a picture is properly executed, it really is worth a thousand words.  Tight and compelling copy will “hook” users and lead them to the proper call to action.  Simple and clean HTML will ensure the message is delivered effectively.
  • Use HTML software such as Dreamweaver, MS FrontPage or Adobe GoLive to create the HTML. Do not use MS Word, MS Publisher, or other graphics/desktop publishing software.
  • Do not use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), JavaScript, Submission Forms, Layers, or Rich Media (i.e. Flash movies, animation).  These cause deliverability issues which can affect the campaign responses, hinder our deliverability for future campaigns, and do not render correctly in many email ISPs.
  • Use basic HTML tags for the coding.  If your HTML software uses CSS for formatting, adjust the preferences to apply formatting using basic HTML tags only.  If absolutely necessary, inline style sheets are an acceptable substitute for CSS.
  • Do not use comments in the HTML code of your email as they can potentially flag spam triggers.
  • Provide a hyperlink to a related web site or at least an email address that the recipient can contact if there is not a web site available.
  • Whenever possible, minimize use of graphics/images in the design to avoid these potential issues:
  1. The more images/graphics there are, the more time it takes for a recipient to download.  Potential customers will be lost if they have to wait for images to download in order to read or act on the message.
  2. The higher the ratio of image-to-text area in an HTML, the higher the SPAM score.  We recommend no more than 1/3 of the design area be images or graphics, and the rest should be formatted text.
  3. Many recipients have images/graphics disabled in their email account on emails from unknown senders, so they won't see any information that is in the images/graphics.  If they have formatted text in the HTML, the recipient can at least read the text part of the HTML if images/graphics are disabled.  After being able to read the text and discover what the message is, they will be more likely to enable the images/graphics and act on the offer.
  4. Any print that is part of the image/graphic can be fuzzy or blurry, making it difficult to read.  This happens because graphics/images are optimized or compressed to reduce file size and maximize download speed.
  5. Do not use background images as they are not supported across all email clients.

HTML Design Recommendations


Focus design efforts on areas that can maximize responses and deliverability:
  • Use fonts that are universal on the Internet such as Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, or Times New Roman.  Any other fonts will resort to a default font if the recipient doesn’t have it installed on their computer.
  • Minimize the number of fonts, sizes, and colors used in the design for easy flow and professional look.
  • When possible, avoid using white (#FFFFFF) text.  Spammers sometimes use white text on white backgrounds to prevent visibility of some text, so Spam filters may flag usage of white text.
  • Use ALT tags in the HTML code for each image used in the HTML design.
  • Headers and navigation menus work well, especially those featuring a brand or logo.
  • Minimize graphics and images to logos, photos of products, or situational photos that support the message visually.  Don’t rely on graphics and images for the main contents of the message.
  • Keep the length of the email short, concise, and about one page maximum in length.  Newsletters may be longer, but the further details of a message should be left on a hyperlinked web page.
  • Use bullet points to identify key points in the message.
  • Clearly identify what the call to action is that you want the recipient to make to act on your offer. Buttons work.
  • Consider using a “preheader”, that greets the user, and has a short email summary and call to action. This should come above message and ideally be integrated into it. This is good for mobile users and preview pane. But – keep it short.
  • Make the hyperlink prominently displayed and in multiple locations if the purpose is to drive customers to your web site and measure results by click-throughs.
  • Include share to social functionality for additional reach.

Words to Avoid:
Subject Line:  When creating your subject line, avoid using the following or similar words or characters:

  • 'xxx'
  • ! or multiple !!!!
  • $ or multiple $$$
  • adv.
  • apply now
  • consolidate debt
  • fast cash
  • free offer
  • free upgrade
  • Free or FREE
  • mortgage rate
  • New Customers
  • Offer
  • free gift

 

  • One time
  • please read
  • save $
  • Urgent
  • %
  • win a

 

FAQ’s:


Q: Do you have the capability of personalizing your e-blasts, (i.e.) “Dear Andy,” etc.?

A: We can personalize by name, but many of our records don’t have first names. For those who don’t, we can set a default value in place, (i.e.) “Dear Subscriber,”.

Q: Where does the email go when a reader hits “reply?”

A: The reply goes to a generic customer service line on our end and is distributed to the appropriate person.

Q: Do you have the capability of personalizing your e-blasts, (i.e.) “Dear Andy,” etc.?

A. We can personalize by name, but many of our records don’t have first names. For those who don’t, we can set a default value in place, (i.e.) “Dear Subscriber,”.

Q: Can you do an A/B split?

A: Yes, just let us know when you submit your materials.

Materials to be sent to Email Specialist, Matt Schlobohm matthew.schlobohm@penton.com "> matthew.schlobohm@penton.com,  (913) 967-1681. matthew.schlobohm@penton.com ">

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