The Technical Side of Email Marketing & Other Ramblings

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Quick Unorthodox Fix to the Spacer.gif Debacle

Since Microsoft decided to set Email Marketing back a few years by using Word’s rendering engine , I see a fitting simple yet unorthodox kick in the hiney to them is in order.

If you have ever worked your tail off to optimize your email message only to test it in Outlook 2007 (which for a split second before the preview kicks in gives you a nice false sense of hope) and watch it fall apart then here is a quick and simple solution that will work almost 100% of the time when spacer.gif’s are involved.

Get ready for this solution because if you blink, you may miss it.  Rename your spacer.gif to spcer2.gif (or another file that doesn’t exist.)  I know that it’s completely unorthodox but it works.  I even tested it using Spam Assassin and it doesn’t change anything by having a few images that point to a preverbal black hole in Cyberspace.  If the message has a colored background, you may see a slim white line at the bottom of your message that may need to be tweaked a little bit, however if the background is white you will never notice it.

“Hmmm…something doesn’t look right here.”

Anyone that has Outlook 2007 on their PC has definitely caught themselves saying “Hmmm…something doesn’t look right here.” Why, you ask? Well, it’s simple.

The Internet Explorer-based rendering engine that has always been used for viewing email, has been replaced by Microsoft Word. While Microsoft Word was used for composing email messages in Outlook, the end result of this switch was a major discrepancy between how an email looks in creation and how they appear once received in the Outlook inbox.

As an email service provider, we feel it’s our responsibility to discuss the limitations imposed by Outlook 2007 since many of our clients are using that platform.

Here is a detailed list of commonly used elements that are NOT supported by Outlook/Word 2007:

* Background Images (HTML or CSS)
* Forms of any type
* Flash or other plugins
* CSS floats
* Replacing bullets with images in unordered lists
* CSS positioning
* Animated GIFs

So what does all of this mean for you – the email marketer? It’s pretty much guaranteed that unless your emails are extremely simple, you will run into problems with Outlook 2007. One solution would be to reduce the complexity of your HTML design to accommodate Outlook’s limited display capabilities for the time being.

If all of this techie “mumbo-jumbo” is leaving you completely confused, keep these few things in mind.

1. Do NOT panic! Your entire contact base is not going to switch to Outlook 2007 overnight. You have plenty of time to strategize and revisit your email designs.

2. You will still be able to use your brand and “design” in your email design; you may just have to jump through a few hoops to get it right.

3. If possible, try to get a trial of Outlook 2007 installed where you can do some testing.

Designing emails for effective rendering across all of the widely-used email programs may require more time, resources and strategy but it will prove to be worth the while in the long run. Most ESP’s (including Gold Lasso) offer cost effective solutions to assist in rendering optimization and testing. For more information about these solutions or rendering optimization, please contact the Gold Lasso client support team at service@goldlasso.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



I have been following the OLPC Project for a while and found it to be incredibly valuable as well as something that is extremely important to me being in the technology industry as well as having a child of my own. The people behind it are doing something so monumental for children in developing countries; they are giving them the chance to LEARN. For most of these kids it’s an opportunity to have a tool that can give them the confidence to get ahead. Well, while watching House tonight, my wife was fast forwarding through the commercials when I saw one of the little green laptops fly by. I asked her to go back so I could see the commercial and that’s when I learned about the “Give One Get One” program (which you can read more about HERE.) As soon as I got in front of the computer, I signed up. Not only does it give a child in a third world country the chance to learn, it also gives my daughter the chance to learn as well. She doesn’t know it yet (I will tell her in the morning) but she did something great for a child who needs it a lot more than she does. Some of the stats are amazing…“While children are by nature eager for knowledge, many countries have insufficient resources to devote to education—sometimes less than $20 per year per child (compared to an average of $7,500 in the United States).”I will be writing more on this topic soon as well as keep everyone posted on what it’s like when it arrives.

My Dad drives a Prius; does that constitute me helping the environment through genealogy?

I have often thought of ways that I could help the environment, but they always seem to get back burnered by other things going on in my life. I do want to help; I guess it just hasn’t been a top priority. I do the basics like recycling paper, boxes, cans, bottles, etc. at home, but consciously or unconsciously, things slip through, or I’m too lazy to run the tuna cans in to the garage and drop them in the bin, or whatever the case may be at the time. My estimate is that in our house we recycle about 75% to 85% of the items that can be recycled which isn’t too bad but that number could be higher. I have seen various facts on T.V. or read an article on the internet and I always tell myself that I’m going to try harder but I never follow through because of busy schedules, or laziness or whatever. I know that busy schedules or laziness isn’t a good excuse, however it’s an excuse none the less and if it’s an excuse then I have to do something about it.

So what can I do?

One thing that I have done is that up until 10:30 this morning, we were using those big 5 gallon plastic water jugs that we got through our local water delivery company at my office. These bottles are not just a pain to change and deal with reordering, I also just recently learned that they are rarely recycled and they take approximately one thousand years to decompose back in to the Earth if they are not recycled properly and end up in a landfill.

Well, last week I met a very nice and knowledgeable woman named Susan Bierly from IMC Water Coolers who introduced us to the IMC Bottle Less Water Cooler System. Not only does this system produce better tasting water, it also helps the environment by not using those big 5 gallon plastic jugs. I also found out some other interesting facts about these water jugs that I won’t share here in case some of you may actually use them. So with the help of a corporate lease, I guess I’m helping out a little bit by switching over to a bottle less system.

So this brings us to right now and what I’m prepared to do to help the environment. This morning I was reading my morning Slashdot and saw the post about Blog Action Day, and decided to get involved in some way by writing this blog. I’m also going to do the following five things to help out even more:

1. I will be more conscious at home and take the extra few steps to throw that tuna can in the recycling bin.

2. I will talk to my daughter about how and why recycling is important to our environment.

3. I will Research and setup a recycling program in my office.

4. I will be more conscious when printing things out and use my PDF writer more often for archiving documents.

5. I will be more conscious of items that I purchase to ensure they are safe for the environment.

I know that there is a lot to be done as far as awareness is concerned and educating people about how we can help the environment so I hope that Blog Action Day assists in this quest. I will start with the above few items and see where it goes from there. Who knows in a few months I may be collecting rain water to water my backyard. Check back for updates as to how things are coming along.