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by Jeanniey Mullen (Partner-Senior Director of E-mail Marketing at OgilvyOne worldwide, New York)

Email rendering is all the rage these days and the latest battlefront in the deliverability wars. And it doesn't look like this issue is going away in 2007. Thanks to the help of some of our experts at the EEC, we wanted to take a look at what all the hoopla is about.

Rendering Insight #1: Knowing if your messages look and function properly in the many email readers.
Email readers can be Web-based such as Yahoo or Hotmail or can be installed software such as Outlook and Lotus Notes. One thing they have in common is that, well, they are not all common. Meaning, just because a message looks good in one of them, does not mean it looks and functions properly in all of them. Reviewing what your message actually looks like in the most popular email readers is critical. Take a peek at a MediaPost email in two different readers. In Outlook XP, with images on, it looks fine--but in Lotus Notes with images on, it's another story altogether! Worth fixing? We think so.

Rendering Insight #2: Learning if the integrity of your message is retained when images are disabled.
Quite a few email readers have images disabled by default. This means that beautiful email that you designed shows up with all your images turned off. Examples include GMAIL, Outlook 2003, Hotmail, and Mozilla Thunderbird. Unfortunately, most mailers continue to design and QA their message with the completely false assumption that images are on. This is certainly not a practical nor advisable design strategy. Emails should be designed to retain brand and call-to-action integrity whether images are on or off. Don't believe this matters? Take a look at what one of the MediaPost newsletter looks like when images are on versus off.

Rendering Insight #3: Learning how well your key selling points are posted "above the fold," or taking advantage of "preview panes."
Numerous studies have been conducted on this topic but most of us probably need only look at our own reading habits to recognize the importance of "preview panes." Most recipients make a decision on whether to open or delete the email based on what they see in the preview pane. If you are not designing your message to ensure your most compelling calls to action and brand are readily viewable in the all important preview pane or above-the-fold in the message view, your message might end up in the trash folder more often than you realize. Here is a screenshot of the MediaPost article in the new Yahoo BETA preview pane.

In her next column (next week) Jeanniey will tell us where to find the answers.

Source: MediaPost's Email Insider

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