HTML E-Mail marketing is incredibly effective.  You think you delete all of it, but you don’t always recognize it as something unwanted.  Admit it, now and then you’ll tuck one of those away and maybe check it out again on lunch.

E-Mail is personalized.  It has permanence; you have to delete it to stop seeing it.  Twice.

E-Mail is also has the oldest, most widely used and well-understood sharing API: the Forward button.  Find me an end user who doesn’t know how to forward an e-mail.  I’ll wait.

When writing HTML E-Mail, we take a step back in time to 1999 and write what we call “XHTML 4.1”.  It’s really old code!  Keep in mind, we are targeting over 180 different e-mail clients in use around the world.  They all have varying levels of feature support, so we take a lowest-common-denominator approach and code these templates as old-fashioned as we possibly can.  That’s why your office still runs Outlook 2003 (sorry.)

In fact, it’s even worse.  We can’t even use colspan attributes in E-Mail, and to compensate we actually put tables inside of tables, inside of tables (inside of tables.)  All of the CSS styles are inline to avoid being removed, and as many rules as possible are offloaded from CSS and placed in HTML 4.1 attributes.  And we are unfortunately still limited to OS fonts – even Google can’t help us here.

It’s a very nostalgic exercise.

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