So, you've decided to use your own HTML email code. That's fine, but before you go copy-pasting a bunch of bad code and embarassing yourself in front of your entire list, here are some common mistakes we've seen:

  • Did you generate your HTML code in Microsoft Frontpage, Word, or Publisher? Big mistake. There's going to be all kinds of junk in your code that can break your email design, or get you spam filtered.
  • Every email you send should include our one-click unsubscribe link.
  • Do not send an HTML email that's just one big graphic. Many email programs block images by default. So your recipients will just see a blank screen, and will probably report you for spam.
  • Did you remember to include your postal mailing address? It's required by U.S. CAN-SPAM law.
  • You should always include some reminder of how you got the recipient's email address, such as "You received this email because you subscribed at for our newsletter." Trust us, it prevents tons of false abuse complaints, which could get your company's domain name blacklisted.
  • Flash, JavaScript, ActiveX, `Embedded movies, and sound files do not work in HTML email. Anti-virus programs block all that stuff. You'll need to save the fun stuff for your landing pages, and just link to them from your email.
  • CSS barely works in HTML email anymore. You can thank all the webmail clients for that (Gmail, Yahoo, .Mac, AOL Web, etc). They strip your email's CSS out, so that it won't interfere with the CSS in their interfaces. Linked CSS files never worked. Rigged embedded CSS once worked, but no longer. Even inline-CSS is shaky. Use it at your own risk, and test test test.
  • If you had a web designer code this email for you, and you're just copy-pasting some code that he gave you, don't just trust that he knew how to design HTML emails. You need to send yourself some test messages, to make sure everything works the way it should. Make sure it wasn't designed too wide to fit in the preview pane of all the major email programs, and make sure there's not a bunch of CSS that'll break in webmail clients (like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc). Make sure all the images and links work, too.