Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Clarity, Not Chaos

"This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it."
- HAL 9000, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Ugh... That's exactly how I feel when I hear another e-letter is launching in html.

Html vs. Text... which one do you use?

I've been using text for years in the e-letters I've published and I've brought in millions of dollars. Not bad, eh?

Does that mean I don't like html in e-letters?

Ummm, Yeah... actually that is exactly what it means. Surprised?

You see most html e-letters are created with bad code and bad design. These letters lack the strategic focus it takes to run in html successfully. In most cases, there is no reason they are html other than some blow hard publisher says, "let's publish in html!"

"But why?"

"Because everyone else is doing it!" or they'll rationalize, "...because it looks more professional" or some other nonsensical reasoning.

The fact is they have no clue...

Oh, and if they say it's for the "open rate" try and explain to them calmly how it's a useless metric and full of false positives AND false negatives. (Who wants logic when you can have a monarchy!)?

Let me back up a bit.

I'm not against all html... I often run html stand-alone dedicated sales letters AND they are quite successful thank you. I just don't like sending in html for the sake of html. If you have a legit business reason to send in html then I am all for it.

If your e-letter needs pictures to sell real estate or must insert candlestick charts to explain sell signals - that is legit. Thus, you MUST broadcast in html and you would hurt your business if you did otherwise. Just do me the favor and spend the extra time to code it professionally, (no DreamWeaver or WYSWYG).

Without a business reason, sending in html is a waste of time. It hurts delivery, and doesn't improve daily sponsorship sales. The worst is e-letters that run in html that is designed to look like text! AHHHH!

Just run in text!

I believe in keeping your email layout simple. And nothing is more simple than sending in text. It takes no time to create, it doesn't give you negative points in a spam assassin test, and nearly any browser can read it in the intended format.

Unlike html, which can take hours to create, gives you the aforementioned negative points (not to mention it's the language most used in spam) and the layout will not be consistent. In other words, the visual look, (what the reader sees), is dependent on the individual browser. Some readers will see your images others won't. Some will view your design in whole others will see a distorted version.

Nothing standard is guaranteed.

And with more people are reading email on Blackberries and Palm Pilots - yikes.

These mini browsers won't come close to rendering the scripting as your desktop email program does. Some html e-letters won't even open... that's because there is just too much code and the device doesn't know how to interpret it.

Are you sure you want to send html?

Sure it's sexy - if they can read it - but I vote for simplicity. My content is so good on my e-letter that I don't need the bolding or the fancy template. I want ease, clarity, not chaos.

So I create value... and I know with 100% certainty that when I hit "send" my message arrives as intended. It's readable, content driven and ultimately leads to sale. It's the power of simple text. Try it you may like it.