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Let's say your company sends its customers quotes via email when a customer requests a quote. In the quote it has some fancy images, logos, and HTML/CSS to help sell the quote to the customer.

The problem: When you embed the HTML/CSS into an email, you are working at the mercy of the email provider to render the HTML/CSS correctly. First, different email providers will render your quote differently. Second, you have a subset of HTML/CSS to work with.

A workaround is to attach a PDF of the quote and also link the quote externally so a browser opens it. Doing it this way, you have the full arsenal of css/html that is available in a standard browser. The body of the email may look like this:

Your quote is attached.

Additionally, you may <a href='url'>click here</a> to view your quote.

The question is, would there be a huge loss in views since people willing to open an attachment or click on an external link may be less? If possible, support your conclusion with data.

  • Because it is a customer-requested quote and not a cold sell, I think an attachment should be fine. That said, if your recipient is using an organizational email, chances are that the attachment might be flagged for spam (or emails with attachments in general). If there is a possibility that the email may be forwarded to someone else (within an organization etc.), there is a chance that it might be forwarded without the attachment. For the linked web page, you could show the customer's name and some custom text from a conversation you had. That would make a great experience, IMO. – Gautam Krishnan Dec 18 '18 at 19:43
  • To emphasize, the alternative to embedding the content is both attachment and link so in the case they can't open the attachment hopefully they can use a browser and vice-a-versa. I am looking for any data that could support the conclusion that this would be an alternative that wouldn't lose views as I have encountered heavy resistance to using this approach. – Watson Dec 18 '18 at 20:20
  • If it's a business asking for the quote, the chances are they would actively want to be able to download/access a properly laid-out PDF for their records. Even fully-functional HTML/CSS designs in a browser don't always "print-to-file" cleanly, so having an "original" document would, I think be a bonus. – TripeHound Dec 20 '18 at 16:12
  • @TripeHound I completely agree with you. I'm trying to convince my company that embedding the content is not necessary. But they are convinced that people won't open the quote - even though they requested it. – Watson Dec 20 '18 at 17:44
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Designing emails is a step back in time, where inline styles and tables are the order of the day. Tables for the layout, will help keep your email structure stable and will be interpreted by the majority of mail clients.

Set all your size values in pixels as there's no viewport (not quite true, but your media queries are generally ignored) to configure against, use the <br> tag to ensure you get spaces between paragraphs, the <p> tag is unreliable.

Don't overuse imagery as it often isn't downloaded by default and remember background imagery isn't supported in Outlook.

Obviously, cloud host your images.

You can use services like Litmus to test your design output, emulating email clients.

  • This isn't the answer i'm looking for but it's a great aside. I am trying to either support or reject the question "would there be a huge loss of views embedding content as html vs attachment and html link" But you bring up some great info here - which is the very issue i'm trying to resolve. When you design for an email client it's tables, no view port, and limited css. – Watson Dec 20 '18 at 17:41
  • Sorry, I should've said, I was saying keep it in the email if that's your preference, it just takes more discipline and you don't run the risk of soft/hard bounces from attachments, obviously that depends on your email domain reputation. – DarrylGodden Dec 20 '18 at 21:06
  • The reason I'd like to get it out of the email is the limitations of html/css in email. However, We're definitely worried about attachment getting clipped and people being hesitant to click on links. – Watson Dec 20 '18 at 21:49
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    My experience is that email sans attachment will get better engagement, especially as you're not delivering 'policy documents.' – DarrylGodden Dec 20 '18 at 21:52
  • sans attachment? – Watson Dec 20 '18 at 22:37

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