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Creating Marketing Emails using Outlook

9 Tips for Designing Emails for Outlook Recipients

Outlook is one of the most popular app for sending and receiving email. However, it can be one of the more difficult email apps for creating marketing emails with because of a variety of display issues.

Here are some tips to help you get the best results when sending to outlook inboxes. 

Outlook doesn’t always display your emails properly. Since the Outlook 2007, the HTML rendering engine is based on Microsoft Word. This older version causes a large number of problems when displaying HTML and CSS content that is normally supported in other email software.

For Outlook.com, it renders similar to Windows Live Hotmail. Outlook.com claims to block content form suspicious-looking senders. Although it’s not clear how it works out who is suspicious and who is trusted.

Use Tables

When creating marketing emails. You can use tables to structure the layout of your templates, centering elements, styling text, defining padding and margins, setting backgrounds, using columns and control overall layout. 

Using a table will save you time and effort and ensure that the content of your emails are delivered as you designed them to all email clients.

Most of the time, Outlook doesn’t handle divs well. Using a table solves common issues such as floating images, lists, text wrapping, and spacing inconsistencies.

Be mindful of the Width

Have you experienced getting an error “This message is too wide to fit your screen…”? To avoid the wide message warning, your email should be less than 630px if you want your images to be properly displayed.

With Outlook, many users with a wide-screen will have their reading panel on the right instead of under the mailbox. Although this space can easily be made larger or smaller by the user, it will often not be much larger than 600 to 700px.

Fixed-width Layout

You need to think about how our recipients open their mail and what devices they are using. It’s always important to use mobile-responsive design.

Fixed width layouts are where the width of the entire page is set to a specific value. If you are to use a fixed width design. It’s better to have it at 580px or 680px for a browser and no more than 480px for a mobile device. This will ensure that you are giving the subscriber a quality mail experience.

Use ALT Text

Outlook is known for blocking images so we strongly recommend you to use ALT texts.

The ALT text appears in a blank box that would normally contain the image. When using alt text, it important to use a few words as possible. If the alt text is too long this might take up too much space to fit inside the image area.

The best way to overcome this image blocking is to get your email subscribers to add you to their safe senders’ list in their Outlook settings. Once you’re recognized as a trusted sender, your images will render in the email automatically.

Limited Font Support

Outlook doesn’t support that many fonts to be honest.

Using a font that is not accepted by Outlook, it will just change to Times New Roman. If this keeps happening please use one of the safe fonts: Arial, Arial Black, Courier, Courier New, Georgia, Tahoma or Verdana.

Background images do not display

Outlook will not display background images applied with traditional HTML.

If you use a repeating background image, keep it monochromatic and apply a background color as a backup.

You can use Vector Markup Language (VML) to force background images to display in Outlook.

Images do not display correctly

You can’t control whether a recipient blocks or allows email images automatically,

As we have already touched upon. Be sure to add descriptive alt text to all images. Alt text renders even if images do not and tells people what your images are about.

It can serve as calls to action that motivate clicks and even create desire that influences recipients to allow your images.

Links display in the wrong colors

Outlook automatically makes all links blue and then purple if they’ve been clicked.

This may impact with your intended email design. Solve this problem by defining your link font color in-line.

Test your emails

Email marketing is still one of the best tools in your marketing strategy. That is why it’s important to test your emails to make sure that you are giving a quality experience to your subscribers.

Email clients and mobile devices display HTML differently because each client renders HTML in its particular way. Email coding can be tricky. The best way to be sure that your email will look great everywhere is to test it. 

There you have it. Our 9 tips creating marketing emails using Outlook. Let me know if you have any other tips that I can add to the list.

Thanks for reading.


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Who Is Phil Hughes

I am a coder, content creator & software consultant for start-ups and FTSE 100 companies. I am obsessed with productivity, self-improvement, and building a lifestyle business.
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