15 March 2024

In search of HTML email building that is easy AND effective

Kinda like spring cleaning for your email marketing strategy


Sometimes it is undoubtedly better to start from scratch to create something really impactful. The bulbs that you lovingly planted in the depths of winter are now starting to burst into colourful blooms and are so much more satisfying than buying a bunch of droopy daffodils and chucking them in a pot. The veg patch that you carefully weeded and now hosts neat little rows of sproutlings will eventually become a tea that is all the more delicious for the time and effort you invested in between rain showers this month. This is the long game, but my is it worth it.

BUT. That’s not always true. Sometimes the pre-made, pre-mixed or pre-prepared option IS in fact the more impactful and interesting to use. So here at Jambi HQ we’re taking one thing off the lovingly-hand-made list this Spring and that is: custom HTML emails.

As a designer, you’re used to creating websites, brochures and other collateral with brand consistency across formats. And when it comes to email design, of course it must follow suit – but in this context, the HTML and CSS (the styling options we can apply to HTML) used to build emails have a couple of key drawbacks:

Compatibility: Email clients (like Gmail, Outlook & Apple Mail) vary significantly in how they render HTML and CSS. Unlike web browsers, which are far fewer in number and have slowly evolved towards standardisation, email clients are way more sporadic and therefore lack uniformity, making it harder to roll out new HTML and CSS options that are guaranteed to work well on all the email clients from day one.

Security: most websites today depend on Javascript as well as HTML and CSS for a lot of functionality but also aesthetics. However, this isn’t an option for emails as allowing Javascript code to run opens up lots of security risks.

Email size and load times: Emails are expected to load quickly and be lightweight, and any advanced HTML and CSS would increase the size of emails, therefore slowing them right down.

This means that designing something that is as bespoke and as eye-catching as a brochure or website (where creative freedom is far more abundant) whilst sticking within these narrow parameters is really hard. So what’s a designer to do?

We recommend using Email Service Providers (ESP): Some services like Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, and Hubspot have poured in a lot of effort researching how to make the absolute most of this limited palette and have created products that abstract a lot of the ancient tech and have wrapped a nice product around it. This means you can create emails that are instantly recognisable and totally on brand.

If you’re thinking about freshening up your email marketing strategy then our advice is to keep it simple! This Spring we’re all about a more pragmatic approach – because a fresh start doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch.

If you are planning a campaign and want to discuss building your most impactful emails yet, then give Rob a call on 0117 403 0632

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