Knowledge newsletter: expert advice from Peter Wingen.

tech dinos: Technically, the newsletter hasn’t evolved much over the past 20 years, which makes innovation difficult. So popular web effects there don’t work at all, to a limited extent or only with the help of tricks. Web expert and turi2 developer Peter Wingen knows what to look for when using animated GIFs, scroll effects, or video players and how to prevent a newsletter from getting stuck in the spam filter. His expert advice appears as part of the 15th Anniversary newsletter weeks of the turi2 morning newsletter.

What technical tricks can I use to make my newsletter work, Peter Wengen?

20 years ago the sites were It’s still built with the help of tables and optimized for individual browsers – a nightmare for everyone involved. While websites have been developing for a long time, newsletters have technically been discontinued. So far, Microsoft Outlook still does not support Media Queries on many devices. These are the functions that standard browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox have used to adapt a website’s layout to different screen sizes for more than a decade. This is why email messages cannot be reliably displayed on every device or in every email client in the proper layout.

The lack of common standards for email clients makes innovation difficult. An example is the “AMP for Email” framework developed by Google. It ensures that interactions such as filling out forms can happen directly in the email. This is actually a good idea – if there is a common standard. But the reality is different: in Germany, Web.de and GMX do not support the Google initiative, and Apple and Outlook do not offer any support in their programs. Therefore the Google initiative is used only with Gmail (web + app) and Outlook.com (as a preview).

Data protection regulations are also an obstacle to the further development of newsletters: since the Apple Privacy Update (iOS 15), it is no longer possible, at least on Apple devices, to use Dynamic Photos to display current content, such as a countdown to a merge into a newsletter. Apple prevents this because trackers also work with this technology.

Due to the old technology, popular web effects or functions in newsletters are not possible or only possible with limitations. What works and what doesn’t:

animationScrolling effects can be used to get attention in newsletters. For example, text links or buttons are highlighted when you hover your mouse over them. This works well on the desktop, while sometimes being too cumbersome for mobile readers. But most emails are read on a smartphone. In another form, clicking a button (a radio button) results in a different view in the email. But for that you need CSS animations – it almost only works on Apple devices.

JavaScript: Using JavaScript, the language that allows websites to be modified at lightning speed, is not an email solution. It is not supported by any relevant email client, and most spam filters sort these emails instantly.

videoIt is possible to include HTML5 video players in some email clients, but not all. In such a situation, a “reserve” can help. If the client does not support HTML5 videos, one can use an animated GIF instead.

Animated GIFs: If you want to draw attention to your HTML newsletter, you can use animated GIFs. It works like a digital flip book, many pictures are stored in one file and played one by one. All common email clients support animated GIFs, except for Windows Outlook. And their first picture is shown even by customers who don’t.

There is a large selection of GIFs from Tenor or Giphy, where copyright is required.

spam filter: They are the natural enemies of the newsletter sender. The email must be flawless in terms of content and technology if it were not to be sorted out there. The free online tool mail-tester.com can be used to check if an email message might end up in the spam filter. There are also tips on how to prevent triage.

Emails classified as untrustworthy end up in the spam filter: spam advertising emails or emails with fraudulent intent. Begins with the sender’s address: the sender with the end “@gmx.de” or “@web.de” arouses suspicion. Email addresses that begin with “noreply” are also more likely to be intercepted.

The recipient line should not be too arbitrary or consist only of capital letters, and buzzwords such as “free”, “make money” or “free” should be avoided. Many special characters are also harmful

Many spam filters check spelling and grammar. Whoever makes grave mistakes is mistaken as the Prince of Ghana, who wants to transfer his inheritance to Europe with the help of Germany and promises millions in return.

Images shouldn’t be used only in the newsletter, because the spam filter doesn’t see them. However, email without text looks suspicious to him. Attachments should be avoided, while the unsubscribe link should be available. Messages containing JavaScript are strictly rejected by most email clients.

The DKIM and SPF email verification methods are used to determine if an email address exists and belongs to the sender’s address. The settings are very technical and should be done by a professional. For some, the DNS configuration has to be changed. If you enter incorrect entries, it may result in the domain being inaccessible.

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