Epic. Industry-changing. Words that advertised for the big announcement at The Email Design Conference in Boston. All us email geeks sat at the edge of our seats with the big screen locked and loaded ready to stream the ground breaking news. After a 20 minute nail-biter and teasers from the hosts on what the twitter population thought it might be, the Program Manager for Outlook came out for a brief overview of difficulties they’ve had with Outlook, as well as how much our world has changed in the last ten years.
The conversation drew on and after a short while Caitlin Hart, Program Manager for Outlook, announced that Litmus and Microsoft would be partnering together. So how will this impact the email universe? Some important elements to note include Litmus providing email developers a feedback loop for rendering bugs, prioritizing the bugs and reporting them to Microsoft, as well as allowing new Microsoft email clients to use Litmus testing for free.
This is the first time a major email client is working with the email marketing community and email designers, according to Litmus officials. It is with good intentions that Microsoft wants to not only collect feedback from IT and end users, but also from marketers by making communication easier and actively looking to improve its HTML and CSS support rather than being confined by the shortcomings of the current word rendering email client.
With the largest market share of corporate employees utilizing Outlook as their primary email client, there is hope that opening this line of communication will help to make some much needed changes; especially for those of us who use email as our primary means to display and distribute marketing content and more visually appealing fund data to our clients.
Although we don’t think it’s quite game changing, it is a start to streamlining distributions and easing the testing and workarounds for email coders and digital marketers. Here at StoneShot, we have a few changes in mind which we would like to see them make in the pipeline first.
1. Forwarded emails won’t break
The infamous forward. Endless testing, deciphering and decoding by dozens of email geniuses has still yet to do much to crack this code. Skillfully designed emails with sophisticated CSS and in-line styling instantly gets jumbled and broken by the click of a button. The well-designed email that was beginning to go viral from a chain of forwards quickly ends up looking like it should be forwarded directly into the trash.
If Microsoft and Litmus could figure out a way to keep the HTML formatting when hitting forward rather than the Microsoft Word-washed layout, we would be thoroughly impressed and thrilled to put those email geniuses to work on something more interesting for our clients.
2. Animated GIFs will render
If a picture is worth a thousands words, a video is worth a trillion (even this one). With over 4.9 billion videos watched on YouTube every day, the marketer now has another medium to try and impress their audience. While mutual funds and pricing information might not be the most enticing videos you’d want to include in your email communication, there could be a countdown to an upcoming event, different screenshots from a marketing campaign, or even an ongoing tick for a data point being crunched. Allowing animated gifs within Microsoft Outlook would open up a whole new door of possibilities for digital marketers in fund marketing and be a new cutting edge way to breakthrough to clients and prospects.
3. Load Images Automatically
We can all agree that in 2016 we live in a visual world. From full screen banner images on websites, to (practically) professional quality cameras in all of our pockets, to Instagram filters and daily Snapchats, we all thrive on visual stimuli. While that expectation is no different in what we hope to receive in our inbox, for some reason it’s not always that easy. By default, images are not downloaded in Microsoft Outlook, providing an instant barrier between what the recipient is seeing and what the designer/coder intended them to see.
We have built workarounds to try and put text over imagery, create colored tables with text and alternate graphics depending on which device it’s opened. How beautiful would it be if we knew that the majority of our recipients opened emails in outlook and therefore the majority of our recipients would always see the email as it was designed? We think it would be a pretty bright and colorful future.
We realize this may be wishful thinking and will press on with waiting in line to contact the Litmus and Microsoft Outlook partnership team in hopes of an Outlook-friendly future. Stay tuned for more and reach out with any ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org !