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Outlook 2007 presents a challenge for e-marketers

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Electronic messaging specialist Striata is advising digital marketers to increase planning and testing of email marketing campaigns following the release of Outlook 2007. According to Mia Papanicolaou, head of e-marketing at Striata, the enhancements included in the new Outlook version do have an impact on email marketing campaigns.

Papanicolaou stresses that marketers should be aware of the new requirements for successfully displaying their communications in Outlook 2007. She indicates as an example, that Outlook 2007 does not display forms such as surveys in the same way as previous versions, and that animated gifs (used for creative effect) will appear as static images.
“What appears in a customer’s Outlook 2007 inbox could be different to what the marketer intended if not tested correctly, and therefore the anticipated response or participation levels may be skewed. The end result is that the email campaign does not reach its targeted conversion levels.”
Striata recommends conducting extensive testing of emails through Outlook 2007 using various coding practices in order to gain a fuller perspective of the impact the new software version has on email presentation.
“Because digital marketing is such a dynamic environment, this kind of testing will be an ongoing exercise for marketers and their service providers,” says Papanicolaou. “As an e-marketing agency, it is our responsibility to monitor the effects of new software versions and to manage the possible adverse impacts on the effectiveness of the campaign.”
A digital marketing veteran, Papanicolaou adds that there are many tricks to control the execution of an email campaign, even when the ‘goalposts keep moving’ at the technology level.
“For example, to conduct a survey using email, place a link above the form that directs Outlook 2007 users from the email to an online version. You can also track this link in order to start quantifying the number of customers on your database that cannot see forms in their email client.”
Papanicolaou warns that as security controls get tighter, graphical images should not be used to convey the message, but rather to support the message.
“Not only will new software versions introduce new challenges for email marketers, but system administrators are also increasing their control over what is allowed into their employees’ inbox. Embedded images are often the first to be blocked, therefore customers receiving emails must be able to read the message without having to see the images.”