In the mid-'90s, email experts strongly urged, for varied reasons, against using HTML formatting in email marketing messages. But those reasons have largely been made anachronistic by today's technology and the overall evolution of the email channel.
HTML was said to detract from the message, decreasing the functionality of email. However, if you subscribe to any e-newsletters, you know that HTML, especially when it includes images, actually makes messages clearer and easier to understand.
HTML also got a bad reputation for falsely alerting spam filters. Today, however, spam filters are much more sophisticated, taking the sender's reputation into account and looking beyond content.
The argument that HTML emails are larger, implying longer downloads, has also been thrown out the window since high-speed Internet gained popularity.
HTML email marketing is now thriving and widely encouraged for its strong ROI and results. The DMA predicts an ROI of $45.65 for every dollar spent on email marketing in 2008. Email was also voted best marketing vehicle for customer retention, according to Jupiter Research.
HTML email has come a long way, but there is one major pain point that remains: compatibility across all major email accounts.
The purpose of email marketing is defeated when the message never gets through due to coding and design issues. Broken links and images could make the difference between a sale and an opt-out.
That's why, with HTML here to stay, many in the email industry are getting behind The Email Standards Project and its mission to drive the use and support of HTML standards to ensure messages are rendered consistently across all major email clients, including Outlook, and Web-based email such as Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, etc.