All your need to know about HTML Email Stationery

This information has been prepared to inform our visitors about HTML Email Stationery and related html email products and services that Digital Stationery provides to business customers. Other readers may also find this information useful if you are considering purchasing html email products or services of other vendors.

Our approach

Our approach to this subject is to present our visitors with informative and useful information to help people make informed decisions about their purchases. In this way we hope that this builds reassurance when buying. At Digital Stationery we also correct and repair work carried out by vendors that have supplied clients solutions that are not robust enough to work in the real world.

Understand the beast

Email was originally designed to work in plain text only and no previsions were made to include graphics, photos and images in the original email protocols. Further developments led to new advancements that allowed attachment and rich text. Attachments were developed first; file attachments are transmitted as encoded data in each email. The development of rich text allows for simple formatting of text underlying html standards.

Following the inclusion of rich text and the more recent development of html, many software vendors started to support more advanced html features. Although the email system was first designed to only transmit plain text, modifications were made to email protocols to allow email to be sent as an extension to plain text. In this way html based email contains a two part message - the plain text part and the formatted html part.

This advancement to include html in email has provided new features to people who use email, allowing emails to include graphics, tables, links and html based forms.

Known issues relating to html email

What you see is NOT what you get

What you see is NOT what you get

When an html email is created and you preview your message everything will look fine on your computer, however, this does not necessarily mean that your recipient will see the same layout on their computer.

This is not a flaw nor is there something wrong with either computer. It is because the creation of the html email is done on one email application, while the interpretation of the email is done by the recipients email application. Other communication systems follow set international standards, however there is no standard for html email and each email program has its own capabilities and flavour of creating and interpreting html email messages.

At Digital Stationery we provide a range of different html email services and we follow best practices that are tried and tested. The html emails that Digital Stationery produce, use html components that have been tried and tested in the real world.

Maintaining file sizes with Graphics Optimisation

HTML emails can contain images and graphics. These graphics are either downloaded by the receipt or embedded into the email before transmission. Either way the image data is transmitted from sender to receiver. It is important to maintain small file sizes to ensure that emails are not bulked out with unnecessary encoded data.

At Digital Stationery our web team are competent in web development techniques that allow the data size of images to be minimised. This reduces sending times, reduces network burdens and reduces the time to download the message. Typically this process is referred to as 'graphics optimisation' and it is the key to ensuring that your emails work efficiently and that you are not sending bulky emails backwards and forwards.

Transmitting Images & Graphics in html email

Html based email has two basic options for images. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages however. Our customers generally decide the one that is best for their situation agreeing that the professional presentation of an email template will add value to their marketing efforts.

  1. Embedded Images
    Firstly, you can embed the image(s) into the email that you send. Effectively this means that the image is encoded as part of the message. This ensures that your logo (and the other images and graphics) will be sent directly to the recipient. The cost of this option, is that the email size is increased to include the images. Typically a logo is about 6Kb in size, making a standard 1Kb email increase to 7Kb. Although this is a 700% increase in size, it is still small. Poorly designed emails may include images from 20-50Kb's!

    At digital stationery we reduce the impact of file size by correctly optimising images and by using repeating colour instead of large graphics.

  2. Linked Images
    Secondly, you can simply opt for linked images. This method has encoded links instead of the bulky image data. In this way the email is kept as small as possible. Most email applications are set up to block linked images. This is because spammers use this as a method of tracking whether you have opened the email. In this case, users can still see the images, they simply have to choose to 'download images'. Our standard terms for email stationery include the hosting of your images on our server for six months, until you embed your images or arrange your own image hosting.

  3. Control Image Transmission
    The control for image transmission is set in the senders email application. It is usually just a tick bock or toggle in the configuration area of the application. In MS Outlook for example, click Tools > Options >Mail Format > Internet Format. Here you will find an option to embed or link the images. Most email applications have very similar options and most html based email applications will provide this feature.

Sending HTML Email

Sending html email is no different to sending normal email. The only difference is that you will be sending an email that contains formatted text and graphics. HTML Email is a feature that is made available through your email application. It can be turned on and off. If you are sending a html email, most email applications allow you to switch to plain text only if you require.

Receiving HTML Email

When you receive html email your email application will interpret the email and display the formatted text and graphics. Your viewing capabilities are restricted to the capabilities of your email application; none of which you will even be aware of because these are technical constraints on the software.

Some of the main issues have been raised below:

  1. What do you see in Web Mail & Internet Email Accounts
    You will have no problems at all in receiving html based email if you use webmail. This is because you will be viewing the html email through a web-browser. There are no problems on that front. Most WebMail accounts do not support sending email stationery, however, many do allow you to save draft emails. This feature can usually be used as a place to store and load-in your email stationery.

  2. Are there differences between Email Applications
    Yes. Each email application will interpret the html code in its own way. Some email applications have toggle options that allow you to turn preferences on and off.

  3. Are there differences between Mac & PC
    Yes. Apple Macintosh computers and PC's handle embedded code differently. The result is that PC users that work with Mac Users may see their own images attached to reply emails and it is also common to see duplicated file names because the Apple Macintosh creates a header and container file during transmission.

  4. Do Firewalls affect html email
    No. The purpose of a Firewall is to block unwanted network traffic. Firewalls are configured to let all email messages through whether they are plain text or multi-part messages containing plain text and html.

  5. Do Spam Filters affect html email
    Yes. Some SPAM filters are configured to treat unknown html email as suspicious and therefore some SPAM filters will route html emails through to SPAM boxes. Whether your email contains bold text or images, the email will be treated in the same way. Most people who use html email are not even aware that they use it. The chances are that if you use coloured text, of increase the size of your text, you are already using html email.

  6. Does AntiVirus software affect html email
    No. AntiVirus software is designed to stop malicious software. HTML emails do not contain software. The only software that may be contained in your emails are file attachments. When you open these your AntiVirus software may request a file check, but html emails are not considered as a virus.

  7. Does AntiVirus software affect html email
    No. AntiVirus software is designed to stop malicious software. HTML emails do not contain software. The only software that may be contained in your emails are file attachments. When you open these your AntiVirus software may request a file check, but html emails are not considered as a virus.

Using Best Practices

At Digital Stationery we produce a volume of html email templates that are designed to work in the real world. As we see it, there is no point designing a solution that will not work in the real world. For this reason we design specific document types to ensure that we can deliver effective results to our clients.

Designing by Document Type

All of the html emails that we design are based on set document types that are geared to do specific jobs. Generically we refer to these document types as html email templates.

  1. Email Letterheads (Branded Email Stationery)
    An Email Letterhead is a html based file that is designed to format the presentation of your email. This is also referred to as Branded Email or Branded Email Stationery. The main function of an email letterhead design is to incorporate all of the business information, signature, branding and email correspondence information into an effective design that is well presented, optimised for the real world and an effective marketing tool. After all, why not allow your staff to promote your business while sending those harmless jokes backwards and forwards?!!!

  2. eNewsletter
    An eNewsletter is a text and image based email prepared in a 'ready to send format' that combines the design and copy in the final product.

  3. eShots
    An eShot is like a direct mail. It is generally designed for maximum impact and most clients use these to promote product lines and win new business. These emails generally contain a grid layout and contain a larger proportion of graphics than text.

  4. Email Response Forms
    An Email Response Form contains html element typically used on website forms. Email Response Forms allow recipients to complete a structure form and submit the information back to your website, web-service or web-server.

  5. Bespoke Email Templates
    Often clients request bespoke requirements that combine elements from different document types. We refer to this as a bespoke email template because it doesn't match our standard guidelines. Digital Stationery produces bespoke email templates for clients, but these are less popular than the four main email templates.

Making an informed decision

The information that we provide is there to help our visitors make informed decisions about how to proceed with their email policies and general email strategy. Generally we recommend that people wishing to use email stationery should use a reputable source. Furthermore, we do not recommend that businesses attempt to create their own email stationery because the html editors that are available do not account for the idiosyncrasies of individual email programs. All of the email templates provided by Digital Stationery are hand coded and tested before release to a customer.

Please consider this statement prior to developing your own email stationery
The general rule that we quote to people is: "just because you can see it on your screen, doesn't mean that everybody else can see it".

Any further questions

If you have any further questions, please click here to contact us

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