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Mach5 Mailer Help Docs -- Index

HTML Formatted Messages and Graphics

First, before you design a mailing with fancy formatting and tons of graphics, you should know that not everyone likes to have graphics in their email. Others have HTML formatting turned off completely, and some people just disable graphics. There are many reasons why disabling graphics in your email program is a good idea. So to avoid alienating your more discriminating clientelle, follow these guidelines:

  1. Keep any inlined graphics (sent as attachments with your message) very small so that you don't clog your recipient's internet connection.
  2. Put moderately sized graphics on your server, if you include them at all.
  3. Send both plain-text and html formatted versions simultaneously.
  4. Format your plain text version differently than your html version. Design them separately, as the presentations are not the same.
  5. Avoid using tables or complicated layouts, Javascript, animations, image maps, or other elements you may expect to use on a web page.
  6. Avoid using non-browser fonts. Windows PC users may read their email on a Mac, or in a webmail client on a linux system.
  7. Avoid cascading style sheets and other advanced HTML features. It may not come through.

Even if your recipient's client can handle lots of fancy content, people use email differently than they use a web browser. Just ask yourself a simple question: Would I like this email if all the email I received looked like what I am sending?

Steps to Creating a Formatted Message

Design your HTML

Lay out the HTML with graphics in a program designed for HTML or, if you are familiar with HTML basics, you can type the HTML code directly into Mailer's HTML editing pane. There are a few free HTML editors available, including Netscape or Mozilla Composer, which is part of the Netscape or Mozilla browser packages.

Choose what graphics will be inlined. (Gold version only)

Mailer sends inline graphics as attachments to your mailing. They load immediately when the recipient views your email message. Inlining of graphic images is only supported in the Gold version of Mailer.

To inline an image, first attach the image to your mailing. The Mailer attach command can appear anywhere in your mailing, even in the plain text portion. We recommend that you position your text cursor at the very end of your mailing. Then click on the "Attach..." button. Here's what you get:

Simply browse for your image as you have designed it in your HTML layout, and assign the image a unique Content ID as above. You can use image1, image2, etc. if you want to name them sequentially, or you can give them more meaningful names such as "analyzericonlarge."

After you have named your image with a Content ID and attached it, simply click on the HTML editing pane and type the code to place your image in your message:

<img src="cid:image1" width="100" height="36" border="0">

Note the special protocol "cid:" in the image tag that indicates to an email client that the content is inlined as an attachment with a given name.

Choose what graphics to load from your server

If you are using the Regular version, or if you have a larger image that you don't need to display immediately when the user opens your email message, place the image on your webserver.

After placing the image on your webserver, put the image tag in your message:

<img src="http://mach5.com/images/myimage.gif" width="100" height="36" border="0">

It's very important that you upload your images to your server before you preview your message. Otherwise, the graphic elements will not display in your message preview, or if they do, they will be drawn from your local filesystem and will be missing from the actual email that your recipient receives.

Tracking Recipient Viewing

One trick many email marketeers use is to embed a "graphic" on an webserver that isn't really a graphic, or to place query string variables on a graphic. These techniques can alert your server that a specific recipient has displayed your message. Note that if you put the recipient email address as a variable on your images, your mailing may get labeled as "SPAM" by filtering software, as this is a known way for spammers to verify that addresses are good. So be careful with this technique as using it may darken your image. But here's how it can be done:

<img src="http://mach5.com/images/myimage.gif?id=<%[CustID]%>" width="100" height="36" border="0">

Where "CustID" is a field in your database identifying the recipient. Your website logs would then also have this query string variable on the access of the image.

Previewing and Sending Test Messages

Before sending your mailing, preview the messages carefully. You may also want to click on the "Send Test Message" button and redirect some of the messages to yourself so that you can preview them in your email program.

It's a good idea to send yourself a test message to a webmail server that is not located on your local filesystem. Any "free email" service will do for this purpose. By sending your messages to yourself at a remote location, you can double-check that you have not included any references to elements stored on your local filesystem.

Mailer does check for "file://" protocol requests and displays an error message. This should catch all filesystem references. But still, you should check your messages carefully yourself just to make sure.

Basic HTML Commands

Editing a basic formatted message is easier than you might think. There are literally thousands of HTML tutorials on the web. Just type "HTML tutorial" into any search engine, and take your pick.

Microsoft Word can also produce HTML, though the HTML it produces is rather non-standard. If you stick to simple formatting, you may get something that displays correctly for many but not all of your recipients. Microsoft Word, in particular, embeds its own font references into documents. These fonts aren't installed on many computers.

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