Targeted Emails

Submitting Creative Materials

Materials Due Date: Creative is due 7 days prior to launch.

When submitting creative, please send the following items:

  • HTML File and/or Plain Text Version File
  • Subject Line
  • Preheader Text (optional)
  • Preferred send day and time
  • Suppression list of subscribers who have unsubscribed from your promotions
  • Your opt-out link

Creation Fee: If you prefer, we can build your HTML for an additional cost. Please contact your Marketing Services Coordinator and Sales Rep for more information and see the Creation Fee Materials section at the bottom of this page.


HTML File:

  • Dimensions: Max width of 600px
  • Max File Size: 35k
  • Images: .jpg, .gif. All images should be hosted on your server. If you are unable to host images, they must be under 30k and provided to your Marketing Specialist.
  • If you are using click tags, they must be embedded.

Plain Text Version File: Plain text version of your HTML email. For plain text optimization, use clear headlines, bulleted lists, white space for scannability, and defined CTAs.

  • Why include a plain text alternative?
    • Multi-part MIME (Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extensions) combines a plain text version of your email along with the HTML version.
    • HTML-only emails can trigger spam filters.
    • Some email clients do not support HTML-only emails. Having a plain text version of the email guarantees readability.
    • Some email clients allow for users to opt-in for receiving text only versions of all emails. Having a plain text version of the email guarantees the user will receive your email.  

Subject Line: 70 characters or less (including spaces). To avoid spamming issues, refrain from using exclamation marks, ALL CAPS, unusual characters, misleading descriptions, and spam triggering words, such as “Free” or “Guaranteed”.

Preheader Text: Between 30 and 140 characters or less (including spaces). A short snippet to entice the reader to open the email.


HTML email design is NOT the same as web page design. Below are some best practices for successful message delivery, display, and effectiveness:

Message Code and Content:

  1. HTML code should be W3C compliant. Some clients, especially AOL, MSN and Hotmail, reject messages with invalid code.
  2. Do not use style sheets. CSS renders incorrectly in many email clients, especially if the recipient tries to forward your email. If your email absolutely requires CSS, use inline styles by embedding the style between the two body tags. Never put style code into the header. Try to use HTML tags instead.
  3. Use outer tables in place of tags. Background colors may be defined using the bg color attribute within tags. Background colors and attributes will not render properly using tags.
  4. Avoid scripting. Most email systems strip out scripts due to security concerns, and some even reject the messages.
  5. Do not put anything important in the header. Some email clients truncate or strip out headers entirely.
  6. Avoid Microsoft Smart Quotes – they will show up as boxes. Use plain ASCII characters instead (double dashes instead of em-dashes, etc.).
  7. Avoid background images. Background images do not render in many email clients, in particular, Gmail and Outlook 2007 and 2010.
  8. If images are hosted on your web servers, use absolute URLs in the image tages (e.g., ). Be aware that a large email broadcast can result in a concentrated heavy load on your server.

Message Design:

  1. Rely on concise, compelling text with clear calls to action and prominent text links rather than excessive graphics. Our readers are information ready and respond best to short, informative emails rather than those that rely on extensive formatting and images.
  2. Avoid the use of background images as they cause rendering and formatting issues for emails in Outlook 2007.
  3. Create an email that works even without images loaded. Some email clients, like Gmail and Outlook 2007 and 2010, block images by default.
  4. Use image alt tags for all your graphics. Recipients with images disabled will see the alt text, so use alt text as you would any other promotional copy.
  5. Keep image file sizes small to minimize load times. Under 25k total is best. Images should be in GIF or JPEG format only.

Sample Emails:


If you have chosen to have your email coded by our team, you must send the following:

  • Text
  • Images
  • Basic Layout/Design Instructions
  • Subject Line
  • Preferred Send Day and Time

We can build your HTML for you from a wide variety of document types.

These include:

  • Microsoft Word (.doc) documents, including embedded images and colors
  • PowerPoint (.ppt) slides
  • Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (.pdf)
  • Adobe Photoshop format (.psd)

Conversion Limitations:

  • Limit use of special fonts. If you have to use a particular typeface, that text must be converted to an image, which will increase the email’s download time.
  • Keep layouts simple. Complicated designs may be difficult or impossible to attain within the limits of email compliant html. Your headlines/text may break unpredictably or not align as you expected.
  • Provide complete instructions. Specify all colors that you want for headlines, text, backgrounds, borders, etc., and important positioning information.
  • Test all links beforehand to avoid production delays.