Maps have become quite popular in the era of mobile apps and GPS tracking technology. Apart from helping us find our way, we are also learning that they can be useful for those interested in using email marketing to drive traffic to an event. However, while embedding maps in your email message has many potential benefits, actually ensuring that they work across the board is an entirely different story. Here’s both sides of that tale.

The Pros and Cons of Embedded Email Maps

Email is pretty flexible, so technically, embedding maps is a relatively straightforward process. In fact, Microsoft and Google have enabled this functionality seamlessly with Bing Maps for Hotmail and Google Maps for Gmail respectively. In these particular instances, they work quite well. Unfortunately, this is not always the case when other email clients and different web browsers come into play.

Embedding maps in an email is not impossible, but there are no guarantees that they will display properly or at all. It isn’t really an issue of rendering capability as most clients are more than capable. It has more to do with the fact that most automatically strip out or disable additional HTML elements for security purposes. Since the popular mapping applications are built on top of technologies such as AJAX, Javascript and iFrames, the practice of embedding their features is not very reliable. Depending on the mail client and browser the subscriber is using, your map may just show up as one big blank space.

Viable Alternative Method

Successfully integrating maps with your email marketing may require you to take the same approach as you do with video email, surveys and other elements that often cause trouble for HTML messages. Include a link to them in your message instead of embedding them directly in your email. The good thing about this method is that both Microsoft and Google have made it convenient to incorporate their maps on web pages through flexible, easy to use APIs. All you have to worry about is coming up with a compelling call to action that convinces the subscriber to click through and have a look. For now, this is definitely the safest option.

Test and Find Out

Although there are obvious disadvantages, embedding maps in your email message isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Hotmail and Gmail have been optimized to support this functionality, so if most of your subscribers use these clients you may experience little to no problems. Yet regardless of what mail programs your subscribers use, the best way to determine the effectiveness of embedded email maps is through testing. Set up a few test accounts on the services you will be targeting, run them through the most widely used browsers and analyze the results. Whenever in doubt, test and find out.