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Steffi Lewis

Building email newsletters

Top 10 tips for developers ...

Posted on: 22/09/2011   By: Steffi Lewis

I've been writing a new module for so that our clients can drop email notifications in to their subscribers inboxes as an additional marketing tool to sharing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I've learned quite a lot, so here's some stuff you may like to know ...

email is more likely to be read than something posted on facebook, twitter or linkedin

email is more likely to be read than something posted on facebook, twitter or linkedin

Our clients blog every week (sometimes twice or thee times a week) and it was important to me to find additional ways to share their new posts with their contact networks and get their posts seen.

Why? Well, Although we all love Social Networks, the speed of news feeds these days means that only a small portion of our contacts get to see something we share so we can find ourselves re-sharing the same stuff more and more, in the hope that other people see it. This causes news feeds to move even quicker, and if you're not careful, people will hide your stuff, or even worse, unfriend you because you're spamming their feeds.

What's the alternative then? It's simple ... good old fashioned email. Providing it can get through those ever more paranoid spam filters, it'll sit in someone's inbox, waiting to be read. And then regardless of whether it's hours or days later, your lovely new post gets read and you get a visit to your blog. They may also forward it on if you ask nicely!

So our new mailing list module sends out a very pretty HTML mailer, branded to their blog, each time they post something new. If they're blogging more that once a week, then we can build in more than one post and then we call it a weekly newsletter!

So for all you developers out there, here's a few things I've learned ...

  • Use tables for positioning

  • Don't use an external stylesheet. Inline styling only!

  • Always include a Text only version with every HTML mailer

  • Send it to your own Outlook, Hotmail and Google mail accounts first

  • Test it using Spam Checkers and aim for a score of less than 1

  • Always include a 'view in browser' link at the top

  • Always include an 'unsubscribe' option at the bottom

  • All links and included images should start with http:// and not rely on local referencing

  • Refrain from using common spam words and phrases

  • Don't use too much punctuation. !!! is definitely out and so is "s p a c i n g" dodgy words

The aim is to get it looking the same in every mail client, whether that is web based or, like Outlook, on your own computer. Different mail systems support different inline styles, so for example, you can have a coloured background in Outlook and GoogleMail, you'll only see white in Hotmail. Outlook doesn't support borders whereas the other two do! Don't get me started on font support on the iPad! I'm hopeful iOS5 will improve that.

It's simply a case of trial and error. You could drive yourself mad trying to get it exactly the same on every single one, but you're going to hit your project deadline sooner or later, so in most cases 'good enough' will have to do. Also, I can't stress more highly the importance of on-line spam checkers. Many of them, such as IsNotSpan and SwiftPage let you send them your mailer then they'll return a score for you! How cool is that?

I'm really pleased with what I've created. It's now integrated into and this website, so once I've finished testing it, i'll be rolling out to my other clients' blogs so they can use it too.

Love, light and logic ...


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More about Steffi Lewis ...

My name is Steffi Lewis and I'm a blogger and web designer celebrating 21 years in the Internet industry. I create blogs and websites for a simple monthly fee. I work with startups, SMEs and the self-employed ...

I help them to develop and maintain the best possible web and social media presence using the very latest technologies and techniques available.

From a standalone blog, through simple static five page websites, to a dynamically changing system with weekly blogging built in, testimonials and sales messages, whatever you need, I can offer you a great solution!


01908 711600

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