Microsoft giveth then taketh away


Outlook on Android winning / windows 10 is made of fail

Just as the Outlook app finally promises to deliver responsiveness to Android thus completeing the responsive provision in the mobile world, Microsoft announces the new windows10 outlook that will not only ignore media queries, it is identical across all windows10 devices, no matter the screen size. So not even hybrid cannot make it work.

Could this give Gmail the excuse it needs not to bother with the promised responsiveness for its email apps?
Did anyone care about windows mobile, yet, will they ever, who cares?

Will the outlook app on android get less clunky and acheive its full potential? If so might that be enough for google to pull its finger out?
I like it, while it’s not quite ready yet the feature set is near perfect.

Either way time will tell but we’re still short on a responsive android since lollipop has dropped a native email client in favour of Gmail – that client was pony anyway.
Although my old XperiaZ just got lollipop and Sony’s left one in, not that I use it, I use Mailbox [function over fashion], until Outlook’s ready or Google makes something decent.

Watch out for plain text


Watch out for plain text

As you ‘should’ know, a plain text version of your email is vital for inbox access; Viruses and spammers often don’t bother so content filters lookout for it.

Way back in the days before the WWW, email existed. You sent plain text messages between computers/terminals and the file was a header and the content  – plain text. Then later on, the web was made and HTML was bolted onto the bottom of the mime and email marketing grew.

Over time more and more inboxes would render the HTML and now, pretty much all of them do by default – even blackberrys!

So you just made it quickly with the click of a button or it is made for you and you haven’t had to care about it for quite a while, But now you do!

Phones are getting bigger and to fill the void of the tiny smart gadget, wearables are appearing – most notably the Watch!

Word on the web is that it is very likely that Apple’s smart watch: “Apple Watch” will render full emails but only the plain text version and due to the novelty of it, they are likely to read it or at least the start, they could continue to read the plain text or handoff to the phone.

Either way, your plain text will likely start to matter but you likely won’t know about it because there’s no open tracking in plain text, only link tracking and the likelihood of clicks on a watch is slimmer than a phone, however there is a chance they’ll handoff the click down to the phone – if that’s an option – it should be!

In fact they should let you queue up the pages you click to so you triage the inbox then get your phone out and the pages are loaded and ready!

Make sure you check the plain text version of your emails is structured in an accessible way, especially the top 3rd.

Mobile inbox triage

Mobile inbox triage

Mobile inbox triage

While the spike of opens in the first hour will be high, the clicks will not.
The breakdown by device will show that a large proportion of opens in that first spike are iPhones but you will get very few clicks.
That first spike of mobile opens is the inbox triage when recipients have a quick flick through their inbox while they move about, have a spare moment or when their phone beeps and they check to see if it’s important.

At that point they are assigning an importance and urgency to the email, there are two most likely actions to follow: Mark as unread to deal with later or back to the inbox because there is nothing relevant, the email could be left as read, archived or deleted.

In fact tapping through is fairly rare at this stage. This is due to a combination of time and if the site to click through to is mobile friendly. If a recipient knows the landing page is not mobile friendly they are extremely unlikely to tap through ever, let alone then and there, they may get to it on the desktop later though.

The unread emails will either be dealt with when they are in front of their computer or when they have time and most likely a decent wifi connection.

What can we learn from this? Mainly not to get so exited about open times, there are so many more environment variables now, the time of the delivery is not the be all and end all. Just make sure the email is there in time for the best time to open. Think of Groupon o’clock – I (used) to get Groupon emails at about 4am so it was there when I got up, not so much now and I buy less because I have less time to consider it.

People who won’t tap through then and there might get back to it later, however, if you sent it later so it is there at the optimum click time, will you miss them all together because they simply didn’t get to their inbox that night and then got on with their lives?

They are seeing your emails, your SenderName, your subject line, your inbox snippet preview and many are opening the email; there is a lot of marketing going on there.

If you need to push for conversions…

  • make the landing page light weight and mobile friendly and make sure the recipient knows about it.
  • Get more info in the email copy so people who want to read can.
  • Send more: follow up on non-openers, follow up on non-clickers, people opened on more than one device, people who opened again later but did not click; give them more chances to get to your site.

CSS 3 and the pulsating glow button

Although support for CSS in email clients is patchy at best (and a nightmare at worst) we can still use some of the newest features provided by CSS3 as long as we can provide suitable alternatives for the less capable inboxes.


Here is an example of a special call to action that will not only animate but also display fully even when images are turned off.

How it’s done

This CSS must be placed in your html documents head as internal CSS it will not work if it is put inline. Vendor prefixes have been used for the gradient to ensure it displays in iCloud Mail no matter what web browser is used. The animation will only work in iOS devices so I have only used the -webkit prefix.

The HTML for the button <a> must sit within a table cell to fix a padding bug in Outlook. I also included much of the CSS for the button inline to ensure the colour, border and text would be formatted correctly even in less capable email clients.

A note on support

This code will not display the same in every inbox.  It will create a button of roughly the same size but the animation and other style features will change across different email clients.

iOS5, iCloud Mail
CSS3 border-radius, gradient & box-shadow. Animations work!




Thunderbird 9
CSS3 border-radius & gradient


Gmail, Hotmail
CSS3 border-radius & background colour

Outlook 2010, Yahoo! Mail
CSS3 border & background colour



The point worth mentioning is that even though Outlook and Yahoo are a bit pony it is still a good looking table button rather than an image button so it will be visible whilst images are off. Also the benefits of the curved corners and the gradient in most other inboxes + while the images are off, will help make the email look “shexzier” … Jordie 😉

Personally I think it is worth the trouble to get the buttons looking as nice as possible, but yes, the pulsing glow might be a little over kill for the effort for every button, so save it for the main call to action or something novel to attract attention in the same way as you would an animated gif.

Email Vendor Selection: Must haves for a mobile savvy email marketer

[tweetmeme source=”getintheinbox” only_single=false]For Email Vendor Selection Is write “Must haves for a mobile savvy email marketer” where I list the 4 chief tools that your ESP should provide to be kitted up for mobile recipients.

I also discuss the basic differences between desktops and mobiles in technical terms and the user experience before delving deeper into the mobile requirements and some easy method to optimise the desktop version to mobile recipients… read on

+ Big thanks to Jordie for rearranging the contents, it reads much better this way than the way I originally wrote it 🙂