Playing around with Outlook 2007, I discovered some email that previously displayed perfectly in my older version of Office began to look a little, well, stark. Turns out, the new version of Office uses Microsoft Word for formatting instead of its own HTML rendering engine. What does this mean for you?
- Contain embedded forms within the message
- Include any background images or animated GIFs
- Display video or flash or other media types that need a plugin to be installed to the browser
- Render certain types of cascading style sheets, a popular tool designers use to create the look of eNewsletters
You can read the complete spec here.
Since most of the business users you are emailing to are using Outlook, this change will certainly affect your response rates. Once again, content is going to win the day, as marketers with the most compelling stories to tell will stand out.
Here's a snippet of a newsletter I received from a rancher from whom we buy grass-fed beef. Notice there are no widgets or geegaws here, just engaging copy that propels you further into it:
When you own or manage livestock on rangelands in California, winter can be an emotional roller-coaster. We own a cow herd from which we harvest the animals that we sell as Morris Grassfed Beef™. We also manage cattle owned by others, known as “stockers”, as they stock the ranch temporarily. The cattle come to California for the winter and spring and then migrate—via interstate—to their home ranges in the early summer. On one of our ranches, the cattle are almost entirely dependent on rain runoff for their water, so the relationship between them is quite direct: no rain, no water, no cattle. We have not received enough rain to fill the ponds on the ranch this winter, so we have been able to put only half the normal number of cattle on the ranch. The other half has had to wait in Nevada for rain here. The problem is, it is the other half of the cattle the makesthe ranch economically workable.
The close relationship ranchers have with the weather makes us keenly sensitive to the variations in light and wind patterns. That buckaroo riding into the west is probably gazing at the setting sun and praying mightily fora cloud to appear. At a branding the other day, a warmish breeze blew in from the south, the whole crew stopped to feel it on their skin and to remark what each of us already was thinking: when we get a breeze from the south, rain is not far behind. The threat of imminent rain on a branding day is usually cause for anxiety and hurry, but this year we would have put up with a good soaking rain with joy.
And now it is raining. That is good news. Let’s hope the ponds fill. The grass is looking good, and so are the cattle. Our breeding program seems to be paying off, for this year’s weaned calves look better than ever. It is easy to make calves. It is not easy to make tough animals with tender meat, but that is our goal. Our animals have to be hardy to thrive on only what the range provides. That is the lowly cow’s lofty purpose. She thrives caring for the grasses and other plants that support her and her. “Where the wild things are” is more that just a children’s story for T. O. Cattle Company: the “wild” is our model.
No animated cows moseying across the computer screen, no videos of the pasture, no exquisitely designed typefaces. Just a story, a brain movie that engages you and claims a piece of your attention. And that's all we can ask for from our customers.