I haven’t noticed a banner ad for a really, really long time now, so I was pretty impressed when I came across the newest series of ‘Get a Mac’ banner ads by Apple. It’s a great use of the 728×90 real estate and Flash, and of course the Mac Ad sense of humour draws you in and makes you want to watch it again, and click.

Examples below, which have been reduced from the original 728×90 size to a 468 size, to fit on my blog and website (carbongraffiti.com)

(Ed: I’ve since tried to find a live version with no luck… sorry).

MacAd1

MacAd2

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If you’re strapped for time and need to send an email campaign ASAP, don’t have the resources to design a campaign from scratch, or are just plain lazy, visit www.CarbonGraffiti/emailmarketing/emailtemplates.html now to find 10 hand-coded HTML templates ready-to-use. Simply replace the copy with your own, make a few image tweaks (curse you, Outlook 2007), host the images on your server, and send away.

All templates are hand-coded in HTML to ensure maximum compatibility (on most email clients, especially Outlook 2007 in all of its non-CSS-and-Microsoft Word-rendering glory), and images are included in the downloadable ZIP file. Email Marketing Best Practices such as ‘Can’t view this email properly’, Forward and Subscribe buttons, CAN-SPAM compliance and minimal use of background images and/or CSS are adhered to, wrapped in simple and actionable designs.

All templates are free to use, with link-backs and attribution most appreciated.

New Website Launched!

May 14, 2007

Finally, the new and much improved CarbonGraffiti v 3.0 website has launched. This new version’s highlights include a better, cleaner look, improved functionality, and [much] more emphasis on both the work portfolio and blog posts. Come back soon for upcoming email marketing campaign templates (to be open source, of course), continued email marketing and online marketing blog posts, and much more.

Outlook 2007

From Onedegree.ca :
Microsoft’s latest decision has the email marketing industry foaming at the mouth.

Outlook up until now has used the Internet Explorer engine to render HTML within email. But next month, when Outlook 2007 is released, IE rendering will be gone to be replaced by ….

Microsoft Word.

That’s right! Word’s appropriately infamous HTML rendering engine will now be the default for Outlook. For those of you who aren’t acquainted with the finer points of HTML rendering, it’s sort of like going from using Windex to wash your windows to a slightly grubby washcloth.

The reaction has already been extensive, and not positive. Campaign Monitor goes into great details about the changes , with an accompanying fury of comments from aggravated users.

How are you planning to adjust your campaigns as a result? My team tells me that we have been using inline CSS for a while, but the last thing that beleaguered legitimate, permission-based email marketers need is another complication in getting their messages read.

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Great, and here I was waiting, hoping that the next big announcement out of the Microsoft camp (and specifically Outlook 2007) was the introduction of rich media email capabilities – allowing recipients to actually join the online video craze without actually leaving their inbox. Add to that roster podcasting, vidcasting, and possibly some javascript, and you have a whole new ballgame for internet marketers. I’m fully aware of the kind of repercussions enabling rich email would have on postmasters and deliverability systems for a while, but hey, aren’t we used to Microsoft and the other big guys simply making a decision and all of us are stuck having to run around like lemmings to catch up? (If not, please, re-read above).

I’m waiting and hoping someone realizes the potential of rich media email and comes out with something, anything, to get the wheels turning. The thought of Hotmail 10 years ago, and the way it revolutionized the entire email scenario (I still have my hotmail account I made back in ’97) is exactly the type of thing someone else needs to do, but this time with marketed ‘rich email’ functionalities. Someone needs to be the gorilla in the room and be bold, be different, and see what happens. Maybe this is my calling?

So what IS rich media email?

Rich email is, frankly, something that never quite got off the ground. With the boom of Flash 5 years ago, people couldn’t wait to merge the cheap, easy and effective pros of email and email marketing with the new media that was Flash. The thinking was that response rates would go through the roof if emails could display immersive and interactive creative that engaged the viewer in ways static HTML couldn’t. The excitement was there, but the unfortunately the tech wasn’t.

Fast forward 5 years. The technology still isn’t there, and ‘skip intro’ is the most clicked link on the internet. Sure Flash sites are still popping up everywhere, but slowly and surely Flash is starting to lessen in it’s exposure and penetration on the web. People are simply growing tired of it, and designers/programmers are becoming pretty aggravated about changing a copy writer’s ‘them’ to ‘the’ by dismantling the entire Flash file for just 1 typo.

So, we’ve established that Flash in email isn’t happening. So what is? And what’s possible? Unfortunately, not much at this point. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s going to take a pretty bold move by one of the giants like Apple or Microsoft too announce that their upcoming email client is going to be rich media-enabled. But it’s unlikely. ISPs, email postmasters, SPAM, anti-virus softwares and just about everything else would have to follow suit, and it’s not unfathomable to imagine the backlash being so great that this idea is probably swirling around a thinktank in Redmond, CA but will never get off the ground. Not for a while anyways. Imagine the endless possibilities for viruses and trojans if an email client had javascript and flash enabled? Small rodents could be smuggled in the actionscript.

So it doesn’t look promising, Outlook 2007 is about to be launched and it’s very unlikely that this release will allow for anything different. But again, I can’t wait for the day that one of these major players wakes up the entire industry, and revolutionizes it in the process, by announcing plans for rich media in email. Imagine watching YouTube videos sent by a friend straight in your inbox? Even if you were offline, you could still view it once the content was downloaded from the exchange server. Imagine having a daily podcast to listen to from your city’s news provider? The ways that email marketing would forever be changed are endless, but it looks like we’re going to have to wait a little longer still for that day to come.