Rich Media Email Best Practices

Written By Alla Levin
August 22, 2005

Rich Media Email Best Practices

It’s been a few years since we took a long, hard look at Flash email, the promises of those pushing rich media technologies, and those pesky little things like “email Clients” or “Firewalls” that seem to get in the way.

The Short of It

Flash email is still very much an enterprise-class solution at this point. There are a lot of marketers who say they can design Flash email; there are many who say they can send it. But very few can guarantee that any large group will be able to view or interact with it. I personally tested almost every demo, sample, preview or other “test” I could find, and couldn’t locate a single instance in which the Flash content showed up 100% correctly in my normal, everyday use, email client(s) (Outlook 2000 – 2003 and several Web-based email clients as well).

Nada. Zero. Zilch. Nothing. I received either garbled content, or “alternate” content such as links, static images or .gifs.

So, as you can see, most providers who claim to be able to specialize in Flash email really just specialize in the delivery of alternate content. Anyone can set up a “best case” scenario as a demo.

Email Best Practices: Know Your Recipient Email Best Practices

Now, I’m not saying that these providers are not returning value to their customers. However, for the average developer, designer or businessperson who wants to utilize Flash email in some capacity, it really isn’t all that simple. Some of these businesses tout their Flash email solution as foolproof; they say, “99% of all recipients have Flash,” implying that 99% of recipients will receive your Flash email message correctly in their email client. However, as we’ll see, this implication is incorrect.

The following is a quick run-down of a Flash email test we ran, with an enabler that delivers alternate content (GIF Image) to users whose systems can’t display Flash. We sent it to 26 different email clients that we have here in our “lab”. Here are a few of the major email client results:

All email clients were set to receive HTML email, Windows XP Professional SP2. The latest version of Flash was installed.
** This is a common “skinned” Web-based email client that is common with a lot of hosting packages.
*** This is another Web-based email client that’s common with Web hosts.
**** This particular client was running “ChoiceMail” spam filtering.

And this is just one person’s test! A ridiculous number of variables can come between you and the successful receipt of your Flash email, including:

  • security settings
  • browser restrictions
  • anti-virus software
  • system firewalls
  • the ISP’s firewall
  • email clients
  • operating systems, or any third party software you may have installed along the way (email forwarding, SPAM blockers, Dynamic DNS, etc.)

The point is that even under very controlled circumstances, Flash email doesn’t really work out very well.

Read the full article on email best practices at

I Need More

Enter your Email Address to Join the
Gang of Curious and Life Loving

Related Articles