Email List Management

Use good list-management practices to avoid being blacklisted by ISPs and anti-spam groups.

Here are a few tips for managing your email lists.

  • Don’t send marketing emails unless the recipients gave you permission.
  • Some emails will bounce. There are two bounce types: a soft bounce means the recipient was temporarily unavailable, and a hard bounce means the email was undeliverable. Remove hard bounces immediately, because if you keep sending emails to a server after it has told you the email doesn’t exist, they may block your future messages.
  • If an email soft bounces three campaigns in a row, it’s best practice to clean it from your list. If you send daily emails, you may want to wait longer to see if the bounce reason is resolved.
  • Unsubscribe requests should be handled immediately.

Email Design Tips

A critical step in creating HTML is making sure what you’ve designed and coded shows up in your subscribers’ inboxes correctly.

Even if your HTML email displays like you want in your own email program, some recipients aren’t able to view HTML email in their email programs or they are setup to strip out HTML for security. In addition to your HTML email, you should send an alternative plain-text version of your message for viewers who can’t view HTML in their email.

When a recipient receives your email, their email program will automatically determine which format to display.
Multipart/Alternative MIME format sends both the HTML and plain-text versions of an email. Create a plain-text version of your campaign, and work alongside your internet service providers (ISPs) and anti-spam groups to ensure the best delivery possible.

Fundamental Principles

  • Keep it simple.
  • Focus on your message.
  • Have a call to action. preferably above the fold and at repeated at the end of your email.
  • Post images on a publicly accessible web server and use absolute paths in your code when you embed images or link to files. Make sure your images / assets are hosted on a publicly accessible server, so your recipients can see the images or download the files. Avoid free hosting sites, because these often have bandwidth limits that may prevent your images from displaying.
  • Use tables and shim.gifs.
 Keep the code simple. All email clients use different methods to render HTML. Internet Explorer, Microsoft Word have their own proprietary renderer, so more high-level coding may not display as intended.
  • Set email width to 600px or less. 
Most people view messages in their preview panes, which are narrow and small. Templates should be designed to never be more than 600 pixels wide, or they’re fluid-width.
  • Test how it renders in different email clients and on different platforms. 
All email programs render HTML differently, test your HTML email on different platforms including mobile.
  • Webmail services strip certain elements.
 Browser-based email services like Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail strip out your DOCTYPE, BODY, and HEAD tags, so your code doesn’t override theirs. Anything you’d normally code inside those tags (background colors, embedded CSS, JavaScript, background music files, etc.) will be removed. Use inline CSS and FONT tags. Coding CSS inline can help correct this.
  • Think like a spam filter. Consider spam filters and spam firewalls when you code and write for user’s inboxes.
  • Avoid spammy words and phrases that will get your email filtered out.

Email Analytics Tracking

Tracking if your email is opened is generally tracked by inserting a tiny, transparent graphic at the bottom of the message. When the tracker image is downloaded from the server after a recipient opens the email, it is counted as an open.

Because plain-text emails don’t contain images, open tracking is handled differently. Some services like MailChimp lets you enable click-tracking in your plain-text emails. When someone clicks a link in their plain-text email, we track that as an open and a click.

MailChimp automatically converts all links in your emails to point to our redirect scripts. When a recipient clicks your link, they’re redirected from our server to your original URL, and track the click. That helps us generate campaign reports that tell you which links your recipients clicked most.

To track clicks without using mailchimp you would embed analytics code into graphics, when the graphics is pulled from the server it would count it as an open.