New York Show Tickets eblast / email requirements and specifications

New York Show Tickets Email HTML Specifications v1.6

Email specifications and requirements for sending promotional emails

Spotco, Situation Interactive, Serino Coyne, MSG, Cirque du Soleil, Disney on Broadway

This document is intended as a specification check list for ad-agencies and web development teams creating email promotions. It is ideally suited for web and email developers at SpotCo, Serino Coyne, Situation Marketing. AKA, MSG, Cirque du Soleil and Disney on Broadway.

Email Blast Content and Design:

  1. Getting right balance is not easy in emailTry to find the balance between design and deliverability in the eblast - too often web designers get carried away with beautiful content that will never make it into the users inbox
  2. Please send the email over in 2 versions - HTML and short text versions (The text version is is for clients who have opted for “text only” emails)
  3. The HTML version should be as compact as possible
  4. The short-text version should be no more than 120 words long
  5. The content for both should effectively capture the spirit of the offer
  6. Please supply a message subject line that summarizes the offer in a compelling way without being misleading. No more than 30% CAPS and keep it short and sweet with no punctuation marks.
  7. The HTML version must contain at least 150 words in text and be navigable and understandable without its graphics loaded, otherwise email recipients who receive HTM, but block graphics will not be able to see the offer clearly
  8. Please do not put the offer expiration date in an art or graphic form - keep it in text form- you will be amazed how many times that the date is extended and significant graphic changes will be required so the eblast can be reused or resent.

HTML Requirements:

  1. Please avoid making the eblast looking like SpamThe HTML format needs to be 580 pixels wide, length can be around 1500 pixels, but will vary depending on the content. The minimum value is 250 pixels, the maximum is 2000 pixels
  2. The deliverable files should be sent over attached to email (all files can be zipped for efficiency)
  3. The attached deliverable files should contain HTML code, associated graphics and a short text version in ascii format
  4. Graphics should be in JPG, PNG or GIF format and correctly native-sized for use in the HTML code with no HTML resizing. Only lazy eblast developers use HTML resizing, which causes alignment issues.
  5. Large graphics and art should be optimized and broken up into separate pieces if they are over 50K in size.
  6. All graphics should have appropriate alt-tags set, including the description of the graphic
  7. Please include a “buy now” link in the eblast, making it obvious to the recipient how to buy tickets.
  8. All graphics must have border value set. In most cases that value will be 0, but a value must be set, otherwise inconsistent views will be seen across email environments
  9. Don't allow graphics and text to share the same space - blocked graphic wraparounds throw the whole email out-of-whack across a slew of email readers.
  10. To correctly space areas, only use spacer art, do not try to use any other funky ideas like table row height, xy mapping, javascript etc.

The Please "Do Not Use" Rules

Web designers often get carried away and use inappropriate HTML elements in their email code to try to satisfy a clients graphical requirements. Items that may work in one or two email systems fail miserably in most of them, destroying look and feel consistency of the email across email platforms. Unless the web designer intends to write separate HTML code for every email platform (Of which they often have very little knowledge)
The following do-not-use rules apply to all eblast's:

Do Not Use
  1. Font styles (Unless in line)
  2. BODY attributes (including body link, vlink, alink). Each link must be colored separately.
    Your HTML will be part of a larger email format that you cannot dictate.
  3. Style sheets, CSS - although inline CSS is OK, but must be correct
  4. Hotspots for links, image maps
  5. DHTML Code
  6. Javascript
  7. Flash
  8. Animated GIF's - Some email readers support it, but many will show the static frame as the 1st frame, 2nd frame or last frame - making the choice of anim-gifs too tricky
  9. Background images (Most email systems will reject)
  10. Certain color text/background combinations like green/red, red/green, white/green and green/white
  11. DIV elements
  12. Non-standard HTML tags
    (Usually generated by the Microsoft amateur-hour products like Frontpage, MS Word and MS Publisher)
  13. Relative URL's:
  15. HTML image size override of the native image size
  16. FORM code
  17. More than 10% of text in CAPS in both HTML and the TXT version
  18. Short URL services like,,,,, Spam links love to hide behind these services, so your email may be marked as spam if you use one of these services to shorten your URL's

Testing The Eblast:

Often web designers will test their newly created eblast in a browser like IE9, Chrome and Firefox. The problem with the results is that web browsers are far more tolerant of HTML errors than the actual email clients like Blackberry, Gmail, Gmail app on Android, IPhone, Eudora Pro, Yahoo Mail, Outlook etc. The only true way one can test an email is to send an email to multiple email clients and properly review the results

The Ampersand "&" in Telecharge Sales Hyperlinks:

Telecharge.comA well documented problem with Telecharge hyperlinks that use the ampersand character in the URL can cause problems with the eblast functionality.
Telecharge sales links often contain an "&" that passes additional information on the link. Discount codes or affiliate codes are the most common passed elements .
The ampersand character is automatically converted to "&" in many web development tools (Including all versions of Dreamweaver) because that is in fact the correct HTML standard. The problem is that the link may no longer function correctly after its been converted to "&". What makes it even more tricky is that some email systems are just fine with the change, while others balk at using the HTML "correct" version URL.

Email developers need to be sure that the links that they have provided in the email HTML do not contain "&" at the HTML code level. Otherwise it's a pain to remember to remove them every time - If you overlook removing the offending code just once its a potential problem eblast with many clients unable to open the link. An error on a web page can easily be rectified in seconds, but errors in emails are forever, you have no way of getting them back.

iPhone recolors the phone number to blueYahoo, Gmail, iPhone Changing Certain Links To Blue - Potential of a Blue Link on Blue Background:

Yahoo and other web-based email companies often change the standard colors of text in email that they decide are links or keywords in recipients' HTML email, overriding the color settings that the email designer has prescribed. Yahoo has done this to sell some inbox advertising to email recipients that was not intended by the originator or designer of the email. This change can cause many types of issues. Although it's easy to figure out what links are affected and plan accordingly, it's much harder to figure out the keywords that Yahoo will be re-coloring. This is because the keywords come from an internal ad list at Yahoo, and they change every day according to what advertisers are willing to buy. At this time, Yahoo is only 15% of the web-based email market, so up until now, most marketers and email designers have ignored the problem - but as other email companies are threatening to do the same thing in order to create ad revenue, it's time to get in front of the problem in a pro-active stance. Gmail has been re coloring telephone numbers to blue to sell their IP telephony services.

The take away is that you have to be careful with links and background colors and test them well in both Yahoo and Gmail, your text may not be the color you specified, Yahoo and Gmail may change its color - and if that color happens to be the same color as your background, your text will disappear from the email.
See the following article for more information Yahoo, Gmail and iphone Recolor links in Email

Animated GIFS:

Even though Animated GIFS are on the list of “DO NOT USE” at
We can still support them. The reason why we try to steer over-enthusiastic designers away from them is because the A-GIF will look different on every email environment. Some email systems like Outlook will show the movement frames. Other email systems will only show the first frame, others show just the last.. We have seen Lotus Notes show just the middle frame.This means that you have lost some control of your brand unless you cater for any random email system loading up just one of the frames. As long as you are OK for having each frame possibly be fixed depending on the email environment, then you are fine. Obviously the A-GIF has to be small, because on mobile devices the artwork may never load up if the file is large, leaving the space blank and unloaded.

Example of a Well Developed Email Ready For Eblast:

For an example of a good email ready for the eblast portion of the marketing process Click Here.
The email featured finds a happy medium between HTML and text, ensuring deliverability and ultimate promise of success.
To view the email in raw HTML click here