Email Marketing Guidelines – Advanced Specs

Operations & Best Practices

In order to make your campaign effective and to protect the reputation and quality of service that Bobit Business Media has built with our subscribers, your campaign must be at a high graphical quality and layout, and adhere to current email marketing best practices.

Over 50% of all emails are opened on a mobile device (phone/tablet), and should be designed with that in mind. The design, the user experience, and the landing page should all be assembled with the knowledge that the majority of readers will be on a handheld device.


To ensure that there is enough time for appropriate testing and troubleshooting, materials should be provided to your production manager and email marketing producer using the following timetables:

  • 5 Business Days (Minimum) – Email campaign will be run through inbox preview tool and light edits will be made where applicable. For any significant design/development changes, a reschedule and additional fee may be required.
  • 10 Business Days (Minimum) – Email campaign will be spec’d with the client and an email marketing producer. General requirements will be agreed upon, and the client will have one opportunity to make edits once they receive a proof. Additional revisions may cause a reschedule and additional fees depending on the complexity of the changes.

For any “rush” jobs (materials provided with less than five business days) where materials meet our basic standards, some of the standard testing services may not be made available

For any jobs that come in as a “rush”, where materials don’t meet our standards, the advertiser/sponsor will have the option to redesign/reschedule the epromo, select from one of Bobit’s accepted templates, or pay for custom design/development (which will likely still require a reschedule).

Email Marketing Extra’s

  • A/B Testing – Subject lines, Content
  • Demographic/Geographic Targeting
  • Personalization
  • Inbox Previews & Testing
  • Custom Design/Development
  • 2nd Sends, lead engagement campaigns

Technical Design & Specs

There isn’t a single standard for email which makes it difficult to create a dynamic HTML email that will display well in all email clients. The guideline provided above will help ensure your mailing will appear as intended (or close to it) on major email clients such as MS Outlook 2003, MS Outlook 2007, Hotmail, Live Mail, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, and AOL. Different email clients have different limitations and restrictions such as:

  • Outlook does not support:
    • Animated GIF, background images, nested background colors
    • CSS floats, CSS positioning
  • Yahoo! Mail and Gmail:
    • Renders only the content between <body> tags
    • Slices should have <style=”display:block”> added to each image to prevent breakup


Your email message should have a single focus – branding, traffic driving, registration, or purchase. All links and copy should point to a landing page designed specifically to funnel clicks through your purchase cycle. Don’t just drop a user onto your homepage after they click a “buy now” link. Use basic tracking like UTM tags on all of your links to track user behavior effectively.


There are a few things to keep in mind when designing HTML email campaigns.

  • Use a single column design, with a call to action above the fold
  • Use buttons, not full text links when driving traffic to a landing page
  • Don’t say “click here” – use language specific to the action (buy this, register now, get the app)
  • Design for simplicity. Use grid-based layers and avoid complicated elements that require HTML floats or positioning.
  • Assume images will be initially blocked by email clients, or that certain images—background images, for example—will completely fail to load.
  • Don’t design an email that’s essentially one large, sliced-up image. While these kinds of emails look pretty, they perform poorly.
  • Use basic, cross-platform fonts such as Arial, Verdana, Georgia, and Times New Roman.
  • Avoid elements that require Flash or JavaScript. If you need motion in an email, a .gif is your best bet.
  • Don’t forget about the mobile experience! Is your email readable at arm’s length on a small screen? Will the images slow its load time on a mobile device? Are your links easy to press with a thumb?


Much like with design, there are best practices to follow when coding HTML email.

  • Code all structure using the table element. For more complicated layouts, you should nest tables to build complex structures.
  • Use element attributes (such as cellpadding, valign, and width) to set table dimensions. This forces a box-model structure.
  • Keep your CSS simple. Avoid compound style declarations (IE: “font:#000 12px Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;”), shorthand code (IE: #000 instead of #000000), CSS layout properties (IE: slot, position, clear, visibility, etc.), complex selectors (IE: descendant, child or sibling selectors, and pseudo-elements).
  • Inline all CSS before sending.
  • All the content must reside BETWEEN <body> and </body>. Some email clients purge everything outside of <body> tag, including the attributes defined in <body> tag.
  • Use only absolute links for images, and host those images on a reliable server.
  • Don’t bother with JavaScript or Flash—those technologies are largely unsupported by email clients.
  • Instead of using cellpadding to create margins, use <div style=”margin:5px”>.
  • All the hex numbers for colors must start with #.
  • Defined alt attribute in all the main images.
  • Include the most important message at the top of the email.
  • Use text instead of graphic for your tagline or important message.
  • The email should make sense even without the graphics for those recipients who block images by default.
  • Avoid thick borders, spam-like words, and excessively large fonts


The Email Marketing team at Bobit Business Media reserves the right to refuse any design of poor quality. The Email Marketing team has the final authority to approve/reject materials, or require changes. In some cases, last minute requests that don’t meet technical requirements will not be deployed at the previously agreed upon time. In those cases, the advertiser can either make the changes themselves and reschedule for the next available window, or the Bobit email team can make them for an additional charge (to be quoted by your sales/account manager, based on availability). Any emails that don’t adhere to the standard timeline may be subject to a delay, of which Bobit assumes no liability.

See Basic Guidelines →