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Don’t hit that forward button!

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Your inbox has one unread email so you open it. The content is really good so you want to quickly share it with some of your team members and you move your mouse to your email client’s forward button. That’s a bad idea! Let me tell you why.

Coding emails isn’t easy.

Different email clients spanning web, desktop, mobile, and Microsoft Outlook all have different levels of code that they will actually accept and work with while many will actually inject their own code into your email (or strip your code out) to make it work within their systems. Microsoft Outlook on Windows computers takes this a step further and instead of using an actual web browser to display the email (like it used to do prior to 2007), the email is shown using Microsoft Word’s rendering engine which in turn means that even some of the most basic code won’t work within it.

What does all of that mean? Your email has to be coded with a lot of fallbacks and the knowledge that the latest code and techniques probably won’t work in the vast majority of email clients. It also means that due to the changes that the email client is making to your code, it is very likely to break when you forward it to someone else.

What do we mean by “break?”

Because email clients add their own code and/or remove some of yours, this fundamentally changes the email that you sent and every time that email hits another inbox, whether it’s in the same email client or not, it will change the code and thus how it displays again. This change my alter essential parts of the code to the point where it no longer functions as inteded.

For example, here is a button in one of our newsletters as it shows up in your inbox:

and the same button after the email is forwarded:

What is the only surefire way to prevent a broken forward?

There is only one way to pass an email onto someone else without breaking it and that is to not forward it. The fact of the matter is that each email client is very different and the way that one handle your email’s code in one may make it unreadable in another.

So how do you actually share the email? Just grab the browser link!

One thing that we add to the top of every single one of our emails is a simple “View in Browser” link that will navigate to your newsletter archive and show the original email as intended in your browser. From there, it’s easy to just copy the URL, share it on Facebook, tweet it out, and more. Other email service providers like MailChimp and Constant Contact offer the option to add a similar feature to your emails.

Having an email that’s only one large image would also prevent the break from happening but that carries a whole host of potential other problems with it including limited readability and support if the email client has images disabled (many do by default). Want to know more? Be sure to check out our New Rules of Email Marketing article too!

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