In case you didn’t already know, HTML characters count in email, especially to Gmail. New York Times frontend engineer Angie Siu explains the ins and outs of what developers, designers, and newsletter creators can do to avoid it in this article.
For those using templates and visual builders, it’s quite the challenge to stay close to the 102KB file size rumored to be Gmail’s clipping point.
“... the key is to understand how much HTML is needed to produce the content you have. This is especially important if you write emails using a template-based service like Mailchimp or an in-house one powered by a component library because, as an editor, you might not get to see the code that goes into making your email behind the scenes.
Think of each block of content in your email as an iceberg—the stuff you as an editor get to see and interact with is just the tip that’s above the surface of the water. But there’s the rest of the iceberg that’s beneath the surface, which is the HTML that the developers wrote so it will look the way the designers planned.
For each iceberg tip, there’s more iceberg underneath that keeps it afloat. And since an email will contain many such icebergs, you can imagine that there’s a lot going on beneath the surface that you can’t see. So every time you create a new block of content, you’re really creating a whole iceberg—not just what’s on the surface.”
One very real danger of not resolving a Gmail clipping problem is that the unsubscribe link in your footer will not show and people who want to unsubscribe will resort to reporting the email as spam in order to get off your list.
Image: Angie Siu
This recent a16z podcast episode spoke to four independent newsletter publishers about their trials and triumphs in launching newsletters. Listen through to hear how they’re making decisions and which of those have been successful.
What they figured out:
Bold text (and building trust with quality content) really matters.
“Publishing an article online is accepting vulnerability... you’re judged, you’re an imposter and an annoyance. A newsletter is worse: it’s knowingly annoying hundreds of people at the same time. Feeling like spam doesn’t feel good, so we don’t do it.’’
Be sure to scroll to the visual examples.
Josh Spector, who has built an audience of 25,000+ for his newsletter For the Interested, recently launched a web page that houses a collection of all his recommended newsletter resources, plus writing, growth, and monetization tips. You’re welcome.
There’s so much to learn from Anand Sanwals’s strategy, starting with his trademark sign off: “I love you.”
“‘In general, the newsletter tends to get a fair number of reactions because it is a bit different in its voice and tone for a B2B newsletter. And we like this. We want readers to love it or hate it. Luckily, given its growth into tech’s largest newsletter, it appears more people love it than hate it,’ Anand says.”
If you’re sending newsletters (or even just emails) and you don’t know about Margo Aaron, you might want to cancel next week’s Zoom meetings and go binge her content instead. I’m not saying that’s what I did. But if I did, here’s what I’d recommend...
Start with this webinar, which includes some major insights on why you should be thinking really hard about how your emails should be about your readers, not yourself, and how to do that in a genuine way.
Subscribe to Margo’s newsletter, and get a weekly dose of how she masters the art of long-form storytelling that proves that length doesn’t matter if the content is truly engaging. I read an entire 1,279-word email she sent and wasn’t bored once.
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