Email Marketing

Top Challenges in Outlook Email Marketing and How to Overcome Them

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Since MS Outlook is one of the most popular desktop email clients, email marketers need to know the obstacles users face and how to overcome them. By understanding the typical problems Outlook users can face, you will ensure you are not missing out on the opportunities of targeting more than 400 million users worldwide and wasting all the effort and money you put into designing compelling marketing emails.

Why Do MS Outlook Users Face Issues Reading Marketing Emails?

The principal reason why many users of Outlook face difficulty in viewing and reading marketing emails is because of issues encountered in rendering that make email coding a very complex job. The problem multiplies since different versions of Outlook use different rendering engines. Some of them are also not as responsive in design as desired. The result is users receive emails with missing images, broken links, misaligned bullet points, and even distorted text. The poor presentation quality leads to user disappointment and hurts the brand.

So, What Can You Do

One of the ways of addressing the problem is to take the extreme step of sending only plain text emails to users with Outlook or even an HTML mail with just the basic formatting without using CSS. Or you could resign yourself to the fact that Outlook users will have problems in reading and provide a link they can use to read your email as a webpage. However, it means users will have to be sufficiently motivated to click one more time to view your email. You can compromise your click-through rates because many users may choose not to bother.

Outlook Email Marketing – Top Challenges

Removal of codes from email formatting: Web developers frown on using tables in website creation, but email design is something else, especially for Outlook users. Contemporary web development and email design permit using divs and similar containers for structuring the content. You can have divs within the HTML code, using certain characteristics like position and float. However, since both Outlook and Windows 10 do not support these attributes, using tables becomes a viable technique. Developers can use tables, table rows, and table cells to build emails. They must remember to use left alignment all through to ensure a responsive design.

Images not displayed or wrongly displayed: Many factors can cause images to display incorrectly in Outlook. For example, email clients like Outlook can block the images, which make it essential for you to use alt text to explain what the different images are about. Moreover, they will have more confidence if they want to download the images. Also, you can add a div to the <head> tag to prevent Outlook from adding padding between different images you have sliced to speed up the loading. Many users who do not know of this rendering issue may think they need to run outlook repair software to correct it. However, even though Outlook may need repair for many issues, it is not one of them.

Animated GIFs fail to work: Many of the recent versions of Outlook display only the first frame of an animated GIF, making it static. Developers need to ensure that they can get the message across in the first frame itself, so ensure the point of including the GIF is not lost and users don’t encounter a random image without any meaning. You must ensure the first frame contains the headline, offer, any descriptive narration used in the alt text, and the CTA.

DPI scaling issues: Outlook tends to magnify images larger than 1920 x 1080 resolution because it considers attributes of both HTML and VML and assigns pixel values to the width and the height. It automatically converts any other pixel value to point values. Users encounter this issue more in Windows 10 since the default resolution is 125%, not 100%. It is a good practice to test marketing emails at a higher DPI setting before sending them. Developers can also create the right scale by adding Vector Markup Language (VML) code into the email <head>, but if this is too bothersome, you can stay with a maximum width of 600 pixels to ensure your emails display well on even the smallest screens.

Times New Roman overrides custom fonts: It is a great idea to use custom fonts in your email newsletter to present the contents distinctively and create a better impact for the brand. However, you should know that not all email clients can display every font type. For this reason, developers like to use some fonts as a fallback. Typically, these are common fonts like Arial, Lucida, Trebuchet, Verdana, Helvetica, Times, etc. However, Outlook ignores all the fallback fonts and displays everything in Times New Roman. If it is not a font that goes well in your email, you will need to set a condition that forces Outlook to use the fallback font you want.

Additional page break: MS Word is the default renderer of all versions of Outlook from 2007 onwards. Due to this, Outlook treats long emails as long text documents and inserts page breaks within the mail content. According to Wired Plus, you can expect the breaks to appear at every 1800 pixels. As a result, blank white spaces may appear above the text or images and causes the text in adjoining tables to misalign, which can change how your email looks. You can manage this issue by limiting the length of your email to 1800 px, reorganizing the content, and eliminating unnecessarily long tables.

No support for background images: Adding various types of backgrounds in your marketing emails can make them more attractive and readable. However, Outlook Versions 2007 to 2013 do not support the display of backgrounds. The workaround is using VML in the <body> tag and including a fallback background color as an extra precaution to keep your emails looking professional.


The various rendering issues of Outlook can be troublesome for email marketers to keep track of and deal with. However, marketers cannot perhaps ignore a large number of Outlook users, so they need to take appropriate steps to prevent potential problems in the display of emails.

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