Ask The E-mail Diva: Optimizing Code and Preview Panes

Dear E-mail Diva,

I'm interested in specific feedback on optimizing our e-mail newsletter template so that it will work with ISP filters and get the highest click-through rates for preview panes in applications like Outlook and Entourage.

John D. Ross, Jr.

Director of Marketing


Dear John,

If you're looking for advice on how to code your newsletter so that it renders properly in e-mail clients, here is a great article by Loren McDonald and Kirill Popov, If E-mail Clients Mangle Your HTML - Fix It!.

Regarding optimizing for preview panes, the key is to put as much punch as you can in the top left quadrant of your e-mail. Consider this treatment by E-mailLabs:

You have to look closely to notice that the images are blocked in this sample. Even with images blocked, this e-mail provides a list of compelling reasons to open and read on. What do most newsletter readers see in the preview pane? Boxes with red Xs in the corner.



Your current Table of Contents is outside of the preview pane and could be far more consumer-benefit-oriented. Here's the E-mail Diva Before & After:


Teacher Feature -- Jody Fisher Update

It's Your Turn -- Open Mike

Did You Know? -- Lesson Catalog

Poll -- Your Favorite Song

Playfree Promotion -- D'Addario Strings

Workshop Live Forum -- What's Hot

Practice Tip -- From Sharon Ray


Teacher Feature -- Jody Fisher: 30 new advanced jazz guitar lessons

It's Your Turn -- Open Mike Dos & Donts

Did You Know? -- 50 new lessons each week

Poll -- Suggest additions to our songbook

Playfree Promotion -- Get free lessons from D'Addario Strings

Workshop Live Forum -- "Can I adjust the warp on my acoustic?"

Practice Tip -- Make practice pay off, by Sharon Ray

On a separate note, John, when I entered your WorkshopLive Challenge contest, I entered my e-mail address without knowing whether I was signing up for e-mail or not, and was encouraged to get my friends to enter as well. Then I got an e-mail saying I had opt-ed in. I urge you to reconsider this practice. As Bill Kaplan, CEO of FreshAddress, Inc. points out, "Building one's e-mail list is critical to increasing one's online revenues but, if not performed in a conscientious and careful manner, the costs from a deliverability standpoint might outweigh the benefits of the additional registrations."

You have a lot of value to offer; you don't need to trick people into opting in.

Good luck!

The E-mail Diva

Send your questions or submit your e-mail for critique to Melinda Krueger, the E-mail Diva, at All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would like your name or company name withheld.

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