Rendering Tests: The Key to Perfecting Email Marketing
Salesforce claims that there are 3 things that make a perfect marketing email.
- They need to look good.
- They need to work well and serve their purpose.
- They need to get results.
Some of these things are easier than others. As marketers, we have an eye for design. We work to ensure our marketing collateral, including emails, look their absolute best. We test and test again, looking at different layouts and templates to make sure we get results. But what about the 2nd of the 3rd components of a perfect marketing email? How do we make sure that it works well? By this we mean, how do we make sure that our emails look equally as awesome across all platforms and devices? Email rendering is still one of the ongoing challenges for email marketers.
Why? Simply put, there are no consistent standards when it comes to accepting and rendering HTML code across email clients (like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc.). Of course, there are even more discrepancies and differences when we look at different devices. An email sent to a customer should not look exactly the same on their desktop as on their mobile device. The content and the messaging can be the same; however, it is important to remember that these are entirely different experiences for the user, and the format and view of the content should render appropriately. It is important to make sure you and your team are taking all of the steps to ensure the email recipient has the best experience across all platforms and devices.
Email rendering tests are important, but there are still many subtleties that email marketers are learning every day – email clients have fluid, forever changing standards. It can often be tricky to keep up. There are, however, some basic rules you and your team should be following for each email client or devices.
Here are some quick tips for designing responsive emails:
- When coding a responsive design for email, @media queries are used to activate the mobile version of the email.
- Classes are used to adjust, hide, or introduce elements of the email on mobile.
- Mobile email apps (like Gmail and Outlook) as well as native email apps (like iOS Mail and Android email) behave differently.
- For some techniques, responsive code must be placed in <style type=”text/css”> as well as inline.
(Courtesy of Salesforce)
What considerations need to be made when designing for desktop vs. mobile?
Desktop-centric emails are optimized for viewing on large monitors with small, tightly clustered links and buttons well suited to mouse clicks, not fingertips. These designs require mobile users to zoom and swipe left and right as well as up and down to interact with emails. As more users check email on a mobile device nowadays, a desktop-centric design may mean a lot of frustrated readers.
The Mobile-aware design uses basic techniques to create a single email that functions well across a range of screen sizes — but defers to smartphones. Subscribers aren’t just on smartphones, though, and may be faced with a less than ideal presentation when opening mobile-aware content.
Making your email template mobile-aware involves three key elements:
- Employing a single-column layout (two-column product grids are okay)
- Using large text, images, and buttons
- Spacing out links and buttons — including those in the navigation and social bars — so they can be accurately tapped
Right. Some providers block images in emails automatically (some subscribers have to manually enable images); however, there are some design strategies that can be undertaken to ensure your recipients’ inboxes are as beautiful as you had intended. Here are a few recommended defensive design strategy suggestions:
- When text is part of an image, use HTML text rather than graphical text.
- Use alt text for your images. A common practice is to use the graphical text of an image as alt text. Keep in mind that alt text can be styled.
- Select a background color for table cells. This can help group text and even create buttons.
(Courtesy of Salesforce)
“Pay more attention to defensive design when creating transactional emails, welcome emails, win-back emails, and re-permission emails. Since these are emails that are more likely to be viewed with images blocked, more HTML text in particular should be used.”
These considerations are great, but is there a foolproof method to make sure emails look awesome every time on every device?
The best way to ensure that emails are rendering properly across all email clients and devices is to test. Do yourself and your email recipients a favour: test, test, and test again!
At Bubblebox, we use email testing tools such as Litmus and Email on Acid to not only test all of our own campaigns, but all of our clients’ emails. These tools complete rendering tests on over 50 different email clients and devices. While Salesforce Marketing Cloud has ‘Inbox Preview’ available in some editions, we like to ensure all of our (and our clients’) bases are covered. Salesforce Pardot Professional editions and higher also offer email rendering services, allowing you to manage prospect information and journeys, email marketing campaigns, and testing all within one interface. The more testing you do, the more success you’ll have. We cannot encourage it enough!
That being said, it is important to focus your testing on maximizing results. Before you go off on a testing frenzy, be sure to have a well-defined strategy. Here are some excellent reminders to make sure your testing is as effective as possible:
1. Don’t forget your dormant audience.
This dormant audience masks the true impact of improvements and will dilute your results. For some brands, this dormant subscriber segment can be as large as 1/3 or 2/3 of the total subscriber base.
2. Test with new subscribers.
New subscribers are the perfect group for testing because they haven’t been influenced by past messaging and marketing efforts. A welcome email campaign is a great place to start. Statistically, those readers are the most engaged during that phase of an email program’s lifecycle.
3. Keep testing: change occurs over time.
Your subscribers need to adjust when big changes are implemented, and that doesn’t happen instantly or with a single redesign. When you’re testing, you’re talking about a long-term change in the way your emails are experienced. Give it time, and don’t be discouraged if results aren’t immediately obvious.
(Courtesy of Salesforce)
The moral of the story?
To make sure you keep your email recipients engaged and delighted every time, use the many tools available to test your emails across every device and email client.
As a Salesforce Silver Consultancy Partner, we know what it takes to perfect your marketing emails. Whether you’re looking to enhance design, deliverability, or to craft a unique journey for your customers, Bubblebox can help you maximize the value and rewards of your current cloud marketing efforts. Get in touch today!