Forward thinking – what to consider when forwarding HTML emails

Posted on May 26, 2015 at 12:04 pm Written by

Forward Thinking - what to consider when forwarding HTML emailsSince the very first version of NewZapp we have offered a built-in function for forwarding HTML emails for every email campaign.

This means that when you send out an email campaign from a NewZapp acccount, recipients who click this button or text link to forward the email to a friend or other interested party can be sure that they will always send a fresh copy of the email direct from NewZapp Central – not just a second-hand copy of the recipient’s own email.

Why is this important?

Surely, you ask, it would be just as easy for our subscribers to use the ‘Forward’ button in their own email application, whether that be Outlook 2016, Gmail or Apple Mail? But as it turns out, we have a very good reason for including that ‘Forward to a Friend’ functionality in NewZapp.

Email applications re-write your HTML emails!

If you’ve ever read our ‘Common email display issues – a guide for email marketers‘ you will know that designing HTML emails that work across all major email applications, whether they be desktop programs, mobile apps or browser webmail, is a task confounded by each one’s insistence on re-interpreting and re-writing the email code in their own ways.

Email service providers (ESPs) like NewZapp are adept at accounting for this when email campaigns are sent directly from their email marketing accounts straight to subscribers. But wait a minute, what happens if your subscriber decides to use the ‘Forward’ button in their email application instead?

Potential disaster

Bearing in mind that your email code has probably already had parts changed and extra bits added by the email program, being sent to another email application which will likely alter the code even more!

With this kind of email Chinese whispers going on, a few formatting issues are to be expected ….

Email forwarded from Outlook 2013  to Windows Phone 8 and webmail

This example shows a responsive email delivered to an Outlook 2013 account then forwarded via that application to Windows Phone 8 and webmail. As is usual when forwarding from Outlook applications, extra spacing and white gaps appear around the content.


Email forwarded from Yahoo! Mail to Apple Mail iOS 7 and Apple Mail 7

This example shows a responsive email delivered to an Yahoo! Mail account then forwarded from there to an iPhone 5 running Apple Mail on iOS 7 and Apple Mail 7 for OS X. Two of the sharing buttons have more space around them allowing a responsive background image to show through.


And another thing …

Using the built-in ‘Forward to a friend’ functionality provided by ESPs like NewZapp means that each forwarded copy of that email is part of the overall campaign. This means it will also be added to the tracking analytics for that campaign – all extremely useful marketing information.

And don’t worry, although all the recipients of a forwarded email are linked to the recipient of the original email, their details are all logged anonymously and separately in the NewZapp system. They can then decide for themselves if they want to subscribe to your account via the link provided in their email.

Of course, none of this can be guaranteed to happen with an email forwarded straight from the recipient’s own program. Indeed, emails forwarded this way can often produce misleading tracking and analytics, including attributing all opens and clicks by multiple forwardees to the original email recipient only. Just look out for the subscriber who seems to have a ridiculously high email open rate!

So there you have it

If your email service provider has a provision for ‘Forward to a Friend’ functionality, it is strongly advised you use it, and encourage your subscribers to use it too!

Thoughts, queries, anecdotes – all welcome below.

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