The State of Email 2017: Webinar Recording + Q&A

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Email is a constantly changing landscape of email clients, support, and marketing trends. The email client ecosystem continues to be fragmented and dynamic, and email clients can drop and add support for critical email elements without warning. Combine that with the fact that consumers’ definition of spam is changing, and it’s pretty clear that email marketers have a lot to contend with as they adapt their email programs in 2017.

In this webinar, we share our findings and advice from the 2017 State of Email so you can arm yourself and your team with knowledge to navigate these changes and build email campaigns that surprise, delight, and ultimately, convert.

Didn’t make the webinar? That’s ok. We recorded the whole thing. Watch the recording above and download the slides below:

Webinar: State of Email 2017 from Litmus

Q&A

We didn’t have time to get to all of the questions during the webinar, but we’ve answered them here on our blog. Have any additional questions? Leave them in the comments, we’d love to answer them for you.

Rendering Changes

How are you handling Gmail IMAP/POP since it doesn’t support media queries?

Kevin: We recommend you build mobile-first for your emails. This means creating a base of 100% fluid width layout, so it fills the container even for email clients that don’t support media queries.

You can then constrain the layout on the desktop using a max-width and Outlook conditional tables. This technique doesn’t rely on media queries for fluidity and you can use media queries to enhance the experience where possible.

Read more about media queries here.

What is the support for linked stylesheets instead of embedded in head tag or inlined?

Kevin: Currently, 61% of email clients support external stylesheets, according to emailclientmarketshare.com. Though promising, this market share is too low to rely on external stylesheets. 99% of the market supports embedded CSS and 100% supports inlined CSS, which are the recommended methods of styling for emails.

Kayla: At this point, the debate is between embedded CSS or inlining CSS, at least for email. Take a look at your audience and support for those properties to decide which approach is right for you. You can also read up on how we decided to do away with inlining in this Community post.

Almost all of our clients get their email through Outlook, do you think it makes sense for us to move to Div layouts instead of Table layouts?

Kevin: It’s all about your individual audience. If the majority of your subscribers are using Outlook, then it might not make sense to move off of CSS inlining just yet. But if you’re worried because the majority of your company or your clients have Outlook and that’s how they’ll be viewing it, that’s all about education. What matters more is where your subscribers are opening.

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So if my company is still using Outlook, are we just stuck developing antiquated, boring emails?

Kayla: Well, define boring. Are you able to introduce cool things like interactivity? Maybe not. But that doesn’t mean you have to send boring or antiquated emails. Take a look at the Litmus Community—there are definitely workarounds out there that will allow you to add some oomph.

And you can make the boring delightful. Last year at Litmus Live, Sarah Esterman from Simple gave an amazing talk on the subject.

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How do you build and deploy responsive emails for Outlook?

Kayla: We have several resources that walk you through step-by-step on building responsive email:

And then, if you’re having trouble with other Outlook rendering issues, our Email Specialist Jaina Mistry wrote a great post on how to master Outlook.

Where would you point us for tutorials or learning how to transition to div based/HTML 5 emails and interactivity?

Kevin: We recommend reading our blog on using HTML5 and CSS3 in email. The main point to understand is that not all email clients will support these methods, so build a foundation base for clients with poor support (like Outlook) and then progressively enhance for better clients like WebKit rendering engines of iOS and Apple Mail.

HTML5 Video

If the point of email is to “drive the click,” what is the benefit of embedding the video in the email versus driving the user to the page where the email lives?

Chad: This goes back to your goals. What are you trying to do with your email? If your goal is to get someone to click through to your website then it might not make sense to embed the video. However, if your goal is for someone to watch the video, then it’s best to embed it—of course, with fallbacks for subscribers that are viewing in clients that don’t support HTML5 video.

When I worked at ExactTarget, we did some A/B testing of embedded video versus a traditional static video promo image where you had to click through to the website to view the video. Across our various tests, the embedded video got anywhere from 50% to 100% more clicks than the traditional control design. What this boils down to is that making a subscriber click through to a website or app creates friction, compared to keeping them in the inbox to complete the action.

What other inbox providers support HTML5 video?

Kevin: HTML5 video is supported in iOS 10+ and has partial support in Apple Mail and Outlook for Mac. You can read more about HTML5 in our blog post on the subject.

In your opinion, what are some good fallback options for HTML5 video?

Chad: Unless you have a considerable percentage of subscribers on Outlook desktop, the best fall back is an animated GIF that teases the video content, which subscribers can click through to view. However, if you have lots of users on Outlook, which blocks animated GIFs, then a static image promoting the video is best.

To create HTML5 video in email, do you need to partner with a third-party provider? Or can an email developer just add that to our pre-existing email template? And if that’s something we can code ourselves, do you have suggestions on how-to code or implement?

Kevin: You can certainly use third-party providers such as Movable Ink or LiveClicker, but you can implement HTML5 video on your own as well. HTML5 video is supported in 42% of the market according to emailclientmarketshare.com, namely on iOS Mail. You can simply use the standard HTML5 video tag:

<video autoplay="autoplay" loop="loop” style=”display: none;” class=”video”>
<source src="video.mp4" type="video/mp4">
</video>

We recommend hiding the video by default and then showing it for iOS 10:

@supports (-webkit-overflow-scrolling:touch) and (color:#ffff) {
.video { display: block !important; }
}

You can also choose to implement background videos using this technique.

Interactive Emails

How long did you plan for the Litmus Live interactive email? How long did it take to build? Are you coding that quiz all into one email? Or are you sending two separate emails, one for the people can view it and one for those who can’t?

Kevin: We tend to plan a few months in advance for our Litmus Live emails since they’re not like a typical email send. We sent one email, and included a view online option as a fallback. For a full overview of our Litmus Live email processes we covered in the webinar, check out:

Kayla: And just a hint, hint: Tickets are going fast—if you’d like to join us for this year’s conference, check out more information about Litmus Live.

Since new interactivity is being introduced, what would an ideal standard file size?

Kevin: You just need to stay under Gmail’s 102KB limit to avoid clipping in that email client.

Streamlining Your Workflow

What’s the best way to add in open-rate tracking if you’re using a custom email sender that doesn’t track opens currently?

Kevin: You can always use Litmus Email Analytics to track your opens and where your subscribers are opening your emails, too, but it’s designed to be used in conjunction with the data from your email service provider, not to replace it.

How do you automate your email production process when you have a large amount of layouts and content combinations straight from Creative tools such as Photoshop or InDesign?

Kevin: We primarily focus on automating and scaling the production process for developers. But, there are tools that can help the handoff between design and development such as Zeplin and InVision Inspect.

Do you have any tips to get started streamlining my workflow?

Kayla: Yes! There are plenty of ways you can automate your email workflow, whether that’s with automation tools like task runners and static site generators or by automating your testing processes with Litmus. A few resources to get you going:

Download the State of Email 2017

We designed this ebook to give you a comprehensive look at the data, trends, and innovations that will help you build a successful email program in 2017. Arm yourself and your team with knowledge about new and updated email clients, get inspired to try new and innovative techniques in your email program, and ensure your messages reach the inbox—all while delighting your customers along the way.

Download the free report →