With Benchmark Email newsletter templates, you don’t need to know HTML coding. Our software does all the legwork for you. However, we recognize there are those of you out there that want the freedom of coding your own HTML emails. Here are some common errors and mistakes to avoid when coding your own HTML emails:

What are some common HTML coding mistakes?

When you create and send an email, plenty of factors determine whether your email makes it to the inbox. And HTML code – the foundation language for most email newsletters – is just as critical as your subject line, body text or call to action.

If your HTML code is sloppy or contains errors, you can bet that your email will either not be delivered, or show up in your recipient’s inbox looking garbled and unprofessional.

If you want to tackle your email display problems in advance, here are some common HTML coding mistakes to avoid:

Designing email as if it were a Webpage.

There’s nothing wrong with using HTML editors like Microsoft Front Page, Publisher or Dreamweaver to build your email or newsletter. Just remember to use code that’s friendly to emails and newsletters and not just webpages.

Referencing external CSS files

Since the vast majority of email clients including Gmail, Yahoo! and AOL use their own CSS coding, any outside code will interfere with the display of your emails. Thanks to this conflict, most major email clients routinely bounce emails with external-referencing CSS code, or send them right to the spam file.

Here’s an example of code referencing eternal CSS:

<link href="css1.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">

Another mistake is using CSS in the header of your email and referring to it in the body of the email. Here’s an example:

.main{font-size:16px;} .
subhead{font-size:14px; font-weight:bold; color:#cc0000;}
<span class="subhead">Newsletter Article</span>

Use Inline Stylesheet
<span style="font-size:14px; font-weight:bold; color:#cc0000;">Newsletter Article</span>

If you must use CSS, make sure you use inline code and send plenty of test emails to check for mistakes and inconsistencies.

Using one image that takes up your whole email

Since most email clients block images as a default, your recipients will only see a blank screen when they receive your email. Avoid using a large image as the centerpiece in your email and you’ll have better luck with how your newsletter displays.

Creating an email that is too wide

When it comes to emails, size truly does matter. Always design your emails or newsletters with the recipient’s preview pane in mind. A good width is 650 pixels because it accommodates the preview window of most email clients..

Failing to remove junk code from your HTML

If you used Microsoft Front Page, Microsoft Word or Microsoft Publisher to design your email, expect your email template to contain lots of extra “junk” code. This junk code can break up your layout and cause all sorts of display problems and, at worst, cause your emails to bounce back or land right into the spam file.

To tackle this issue, clean up and/or remove empty or unwanted tags, unnecessary attributes, comments and other junk code before you upload your email template to our system.

The following is an example of junk code you might find in an email template:

<span class="fs12">
<o:column> <b:Xl> ![endif]>

Using Flash, Javascript, ActiveX, embedded movies or sound files

Make no mistake: sound files, movies and other visual/audio files can make an email snazzier. However, your multimedia email probably won’t make it past the anti-virus software most big clients use.

For this reason, we recommend that you skip the movies and sound files in your emails altogether, and instead link to a webpage where recipients can enjoy your media in full.

Linking to images with incomplete web-based URLs

When using images in emails, make sure you link to a web-based page rather than a file on your hard drive. If you link to a file on your hard drive, your images will not show up in your newsletter.

Here’s an example of a relative (incomplete) URL that links to a hard drive or local page file:
<a href="lastpage.htm"> </a>

Now, here’s an example of a full, correctly linking URL:
<a href="http://www.microsoft.com/"> </a>
This text is a link to a live webpage on the World Wide Web

Sending test emails to only one or two email clients

Every major email client uses its own coding to display emails. To maximize both the delivery and display of your emails, we recommend setting up free email accounts and sending test emails to the following email services: AOL, Yahoo!, Gmail and Hotmail.

By sending test emails to so many clients, you can solve all your email display problems easily, quickly and in one fell swoop.