Coding email tips

Email Coding Tips: Microsoft Outlook, Fallback Images and More

As an email developer I am always ready to adapt. Maybe there’s a once-a-century pandemic or maybe Microsoft Outlook pushes an update and tells no one. No matter the situation I always rely on a couple key email coding tips.

Don’t Forget Fallbacks

From background images to animated GIFs, not every email client renders an email the same way so including fallbacks will ensure a consistent experience for your customers. A fallback is the default content to appear should something, typically an image or variable content, does not render correctly. Recently, Microsoft rolled out an update for their version of Outlook and it broke the background image of one of our Client’s highest-volume emails.  Not good!  It was so new that we did not even have a version to test against. With an immovable deployment date hours away we double-checked our fallbacks and confidently deployed the email. The experience was optimal for customers and the email was not delayed. A win-win for all!

Strive for Balance

In our line of work, we try to code “pixel perfect” emails that look exactly as designed in every customer’s inbox. The inherent problem with that is not every customer uses the exact same inbox or even has images turned on. Background images and large hero images, for example, look great when they’re enabled. When they are not, it’s a blank space. Balance that issue with the meat of your message as live text. This also benefits customers using voice to read or emails. I aim for a 1:3 ratio of image:text.

Test, Test, Test

Luckily, the email ecosystem has normalized in the past 5 years or so, and the top email clients are relatively consistent year-over-year. That said, they are still constantly updating. And in rare cases that means what worked yesterday in an email doesn’t work today. When you have enterprise-level Clients deploying millions of emails a week (like we do) you have to be aware of these changes with every single send. Be sure to test your emails regularly, even when reusing the same code. Otherwise one update from the might break your email and negatively affect your engagement. We are big fans of Litmus.

These are just a few email coding tips that I rely on most when faced with sudden change. There are more. The most important tip: be prepared. The more prepared you are as an email developer, especially on high-volume accounts, the greater your success-rate will be. Good luck and be sure to contact us here at Response Labs if you are interested in working with our team to lead your enterprise email marketing efforts. (We’re really, really good at email in SalesForce Marketing Cloud…just saying.)

Tim Hart
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