But are they?
Should we think more in terms of deliverenderbility? (I promise never to use that word again.)
The two are connected because some tactics we employ to get more emails to reach the inbox also allow more functionality in those emails. So much so that these tactics are perhaps worth considering even when you don't have delivery problems.
Let me shoot you two examples...
Certification and embedded video
Consider videos in emails. At the moment, most videos simply do not display if embedded directly in an email. Nor do they even degrade to something vaguely clickable, in the same way that a blocked image does.
Mobilize Mail, for example, recently showed how flash videos "look" in several major email clients and webmail interfaces.
But the New York Times just revealed that select ISPs will support embedded video in the future through a new certification partnership with Goodmail Systems.
Email certification is still primarily regarded as a way of ensuring better inbox deliverability. But when you decide whether or not to certify, does it now pay to focus on the benefits for email functionality as much as on potential improvements to delivery rates?
Emails currently certified by Goodmail are already delivered with links and images intact to, for example, AOL users. And certification through competitor Sender Score Certified brings similar benefits at Windows Live Hotmail.
Adding to address lists
Justin Premick recently highlighted a standalone campaign by United Airlines to get people to add United's sender email address to their own address books.
Most commentators judged the effort in need of improvement. But one thought that emerged from the interesting discussion was the idea that this effort might be focused less on improved future deliverability and more on ensuring intact links/images in future missives from United.
Email clients like Thunderbird do not, for example, block images in email if the sender is in the user's address book.
Conclusion: even if you have great deliverability, it might still make sense to employ some of those deliverability tactics.
More on deliverability and design | Tags: email deliverability, image blocking, email design
"(I promise never to use that word again.)"
The reason "rich" context like video or images isn't displayed by default is, as usual, spam.
At one point some spammers were sending pornographic images to unsuspecting grandmothers and children, so image blocking became a necessary feature. Then they were sending the entire spam message as an image, so image blocking became the default.
But, not all images and not all videos are going to do bad things. How's an ISP to determine which are okay to show? Clearly, the only answer is some sort of certification scheme, where a 3rd party makes sure the sender is trustworthy & secure.
By J.D., on 25 July, 2008
In addition to the porn image issue that JD mentions, images are also turned off because of security. In fact, for many ISPs this is the main reason. Images can be used to insert malware on a machine. It's definitely not to spite commercial marketers. That is why certification works. ISPs can turn images back on when they can certify that the message is from a legitimate, non-criminal sender that will not inject malware on the user's machine. This is the case with Sender Score Certified at some ISPs.
By George Bilbrey, on 29 July, 2008
Thanks for the clarification George.
By , on 29 July, 2008
Comments closed for this post