Buying Email Templates Online: Buyer Beware

Responsive or mobile-friendly email templates are no longer a “nice to have”

Responsive or mobile-friendly email templates are no longer a “nice to have”, but rather a “must have”. Open rates for emails on mobile devices keep rising month after month, with more people opening their emails on their mobile devices first.

The only problem is that you are neither a developer nor are you interested in learning a single line of code. If you are comfortable enough using your email marketing platform (i.e. Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, etc.) you might be tempted to buy a canned solution. In other words, rather than hiring an email designer/developer, you assume you can save a few bucks by buying a template that you can slightly modify in your platform’s editor. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you might end up having to resort to a developer, as the quality of the code found in online marketplaces leaves a lot to be desired.

Let me re-phrase that, the code found in those templates rarely address the complexities of the various email clients out there.

Designing and coding emails is an entirely different endeavor from coding for the web. The problem with some of the online marketplaces selling those email templates is simple: the people coding website templates for platforms such as WordPress and Joomla, are the same people coding email templates as a secondary source of revenue. I personally don’t have a problem with that, as long as the developer in question takes the time to thoroughly test their product for most major email clients. You know, that thing called quality control?

In the past few months, I’ve had to help clients that went the online marketplace route and ended up getting templates that were sub par when it came to email client rendering. How is it possible to claim that you have an email template that has been tested with one of the major email testing services, such as Litmus, and then not even work properly for the iPhone’s native email client?

I could rant all day about this issue, but I think I can better illustrate my point by showing the actual Litmus results from one of those templates, by clicking here. The online marketplace and developer should remain nameless.

Hopefully they’ll have their code cleaned up by the time this article is published. Believe it or not, coding responsive email templates is hard work. Due to the various ways email clients handle HTML and CSS, thorough testing needs to be conducted several times during the development process, in order to avoid surprises after hitting the “send” button.

April 20, 2015
Juan Rojo

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