Designing and coding an email nowadays is a relatively tough proposition. While emails use HTML and CSS to define the look and functionality like just about every website on the internet, there is no universal standard that email clients adhere to. That means that every single email client out there (iOS Mail, Apple Mail, Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!, Office365, Android Mail, etc because the list can go on and on) handles code a little bit differently. Sometimes, that little bit is enough to completely break the code that you worked so hard to put together.
The clients break your code mainly by stripping out the vitaltag that houses stylesheet information like the code that helps make your email mobile friendly or simply not supporting pieces of code that have found their way into basic and standard HTML. Perhaps the two biggest offenders in this regard, based on how much of the market they control and what code they get rid of are Gmail and Outlook, together making up more than one quarter of the email market. The current client market share, according to Litmus, who collects data through their own analytics service (which according to them has tracked 1.24 billion email opens to date) , is as follows:
- Apple iPhone: 28%
- Gmail: 18%
- Apple iPad: 11%
- Apple Mail: 8%
- Google Android: 8%
- Outlook: 8%
- Outlook.com: 5%
- Yahoo! Mail: 4%
- Windows Live Mail: 2%
- AOL Mail: 1%
Webmail clients are notorious for stripping out the aforementionedtag and taking all of those styles with them. Of that top ten list though, the four non-Gmail web clients add up to only 12% of the market share, compared to Gmail’s 18%. That 18% amounts to roughly 900 million active users according to Google’s senior vice president of products. Of those 900 million users, roughly 675 million (or 75%) are using Google’s client on a mobile phone. That’s a lot of users for a piece of software that actively removes the code that most developers use for mobile emails.
In addition to that, Microsoft’s Outlook, especially every version from 2003 all the way to the upcoming 2016 release, does the same thing. From a usage standpoint, those using Outlook don’t have much of a need for mobile-friendly email because they’re mostly viewing on their desktops but Outlook does not support a lot of standard styling practices which can present significant problems during both the design and build phases.
…and the solution
For every email newsletter we build, we test in all of those clients mentioned above as well as breaking them down into different devices, different browsers (Gmail in Chrome will act differently than Gmail in Internet Explorer, for example), and different release years (Outlook 2007 vs 2010 vs 2013). That adds up to a lot of different options and thus a lot of things to test for.
So, how do we solve that? Well, right now, we work around the limitations of each and every client by implementing different pieces of code to target different clients in order to keep everything functional, readable, and easy to interact with. Your email has to work everywhere, especially on mobile (which counts for a huge percentage of readership), and we’re here to make sure of that.
Want to see what Haley can do for your email marketing campaign?