As you know Toddle has been in the works for a while. We set out with one simple goal, to make it as simple as possible for anyone to start email marketing. We achieved that but man was it so much harder than it should have been. It was due to one thing, the nightmare that is making a simple newsletter design look the same in all the leading email clients.
Here is the current state of play. When you send an email newsletter to clients, chances are that it will be viewed in one of the following email clients, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! mail, AOL mail, Eudora, Apple mail, Thunderbird, Lotus Notes and Outlook 2000, 2002/xp, 2003 and 2007. You have no control over where your marketing message will be viewed.
Exact figures of client usage is hard to come by but A survey conducted about two years ago, by EmailLabs, found more than 75% of business email users use a version of Outlook and a further 9% use Lotus Notes. Usage figures for consumers of web based email users look roughly like this:
- Yahoo! mail – 250mm
- Microsoft Hotmail – 200mm
- Gmail – 60mm
- AOL Mail – 40mm
If your email newsletter does not look correct in any of the above you stand to exclude a lot of potential customers and increase the chance of your message being marked as spam. That’s a scary thought.
Email marketing offers one of the biggest returns on investment for a business. But there is a very good reason why more business don’t do it. It’s hard to do right and the current email clients are one of the biggest barriers to that.
We put an unbelievable amount of work into each design, making sure it works in every client. And if any part is impossible to look correct then at least it looks great. It breaks our heart coding each newsletter design and realising that sacrifices have to be made to work in a particular email client. It should not be necessary but what can we do?
We fight! Peacefully of course. Think Gandhi not Braveheart.
The guys over at Freshview, who make the excellent Campaign Monitor and Mailbuild, have started a fantastic campaign the Email Standards Project.
Their goal is simple, to bring simple standards to email and ensure that your hard work is viewed the same by everyone. We have seen the benefits of standards in web browsers. Your webpage can now be viewed in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera and Safari and you can be pretty sure that every user will see the same thing. HTML email newsletters are here to stay, it is time standards were introduced here as well.
The email Standards Project is starting simple. First, they are making reports of all the email clients and their strengths and weaknesses. If you have time take a read of them here.
Second they have a list of 10 simple requirements that would make a huge leap for standards across all email clients.
Now is where you and we come in. They need to get the word out. They need to get in touch with the makers of Gmail, Outlook etc and start a conversation. If you know of anyone with contacts within these teams please let the guys know here.
We also need to start a conversation among ourselves. In blogs, forums, email, we need to start talking about this problem and move to a solution. We need to educate about the problems and use the collective brainpower of the web to move towards a solution.
So what are you waiting for. Start talking.