For now, here are some tips seasoned e-marketers recommend for getting around Outlook 2007:
1. Pivotal Veracity, an e-mail deliverability company, has a 43-page PowerPoint presentation (pivotalveracity.com) that details what’s wrong with Outlook 2007. This is a great first stop to get an in-depth, visual appreciation of just what you can and can’t do from an e-marketing perspective.
2. Check out Microsoft’s specifications on the problem. The software giant has published its own technical explanation of what can and can’t be done on Outlook 2007 (http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa338200.aspx).
3. Get an e-mail preview program. A number of e-mail marketing software firms offer e-mail previewing — the ability to preview how an e-mail will look in every major e-mail reader — as part of their tools suite. See software from Lyris Technologies, Return Path, Pivotal Veracity and Litmus.
4. If you’re already designing for Web-based e-mail, you’re in luck. Multichannel marketers successfully creating messages for browser-based e-mail programs like Gmail and Hotmail should miss the hit on this one. The “dumbed down” HTML design options available in those programs essentially mimic Outlook 2007’s new limitations.
5. Go simple. Ben Chestnut, a partner with e-mail marketing firm The Rocket Science Group, has been advising his clients to keep their e-mail messaging simple for years. That’s because there are many different e-mail programs and many variations between standard e-mail and Web-based e-mail. Designing for so many different rendering possibilities is a marketer’s nightmare. “What’s wrong with simplifying our HTML designs?” he wonders. “Why not worry about the message more than the wrapper?”
6. Don’t allow messages to be image dependent. Given the fact that Outlook 2007 will strip out your images if you don’t design things just right, make your e-mail intelligible even if the images don’t show up for the reader.