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Event Me style guide for invitations


Your invitation is the key to the success of your event. The following guidelines ensure maximum compatibility with email clients and content-based spam filters, thus ensuring the best delivery rate possible and avoiding the largest problems that could prevent your invitees from responding to your invitation.

Use a catchy subject line

  • Be brief: no more than 50 characters, including spaces
  • Be descriptive. Less ideal: "Meet your next business partner." More ideal: "Networking Event for Ad Pros (Feb 12)."

Be nice to your invitees

  • Summarize the core event info in the very beginning of the invite (what, when, where, benefits, costs, RSVP instructions).
  • Write as if the audience has never heard of you before.
  • Address your invitees personally (our invites start with "Dear [first name]") and consider a personal complimentary close.
  • Include your full contact info (name, phone, email, physical address).
  • Shorten the copy.
  • Avoid spam triggers:
    - no YELLING (words or even full lines with UPPERCASE ONLY)
    - go easy on "free," "$$$," "Click here," etc.
  • Check the spelling.

Use tables and inline styles

  • Don't use layers/positioning. Some clients don't display them correctly. Use tables instead to arrange your content. Make sure to use tables with clearly defined borders, paddings and cell-spacing (often, all settings will be 0 in order to make the table invisible).
  • We encourage adherence to HTML5 standards and have switched our own content to it. However, style sheets find poor support in many emai clients. Use inline styles instead. If you design your email with a style sheet you can use an inlining tool before sending us your copy.
  • Using relative sizes for your fonts (ems, percent, or "smaller" etc.) - renders your layout at the mercy of the viewers' browser settings, the computer display and it's settings, and even the style sheet of the website if viewed inside a webmail service. This is good for people who need to increase font sizes in order to read them. However, we prefer absolute sizes (in pixels or points) because the intended layout of text and images will look the same next to each other wherever they are displayed.
  • If you use standard html tags such as <h1> or <b> to emphasize parts of your email, these parts will be emphasized by the default behavior of the client displaying the html email if your styles are being ignored or if you leave properties unspecified. While <b> and <i> might be fairly safe to use, <em>, <strong> and more exotic ones like <def> etc. warrant more caution.
  • Try to keep your code clean and avoid excessive tag nesting. It inflates your code to text ratio (a spam trigger) and makes edits and bug fixes difficult and might reduce cross-browser consistency.
  • We avoid using <p> tags (and use <br> tags for line breaks instead) and can fully define standard text by setting a style to each <td> tag that contains text.
  • If you define your links' font-weight and font color then you need to be careful when your (visible) link text actually looks like a link itself - Gmail will turn it into a plain link from it inside your link and render your inline style obsolete - unless you set your link to target="_blank".
  • You cannot define link behavior using inline styles.

Images

  • Nothing shows better how great your events are than pictures of your past events. If you have any, include a few in the invite and maintain image galleries on your site to which you should also link from your invitation. If you don't have images of past events, there might be stock photos that could work in creating positive expectations in another way than just text.
  • Always assume that some subscribers won't see your images. (They might read the email offline, or block images, like many AOL, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, and Outlook users do). That means that all crucial info needs to be included in textual form. If you have one big flyer, you might want to put it to the top and leave the size settings and alt text undefined. (If it loads, great, if not it at least won't create an empty box in its place.) Then have all the info as text underneath. If space occupied by images is crucial for your layout then you need to define height and width (or create and define the correspondingly sized table cell around it). This way, the space won't collapse around a non-loading picture. You then should also offer alt text attributes for readers to understand a minimum of what they cannot see as image. This is extremely important if you are providing an important link with the image - without a note "Buy Tickets Here" nobody would ever click on that link.
  • If you want to use one or more background images, you need to set it to a table cell since your body tag will be stripped in many clients. You can apply a single background image to the entire email by embedding all html inside the single cell of an enclosing, outer table that has the background image.
  • Embed images with absolute links to your webserver, i.e., don't include them as attachments.
  • If you have large images, it is better not to split them into separate ones. If you have multiple links on your single image, you should use a link map on your large image to define the hot zones.

Other advice

  • Fully adhere to industry standards when setting up your html email. Set it up as mime multi-part email and define a text body part. Add this part to your message first (with meaningful content because many people will actually see this), then your html body part. Your html body part has to contain all these tags <!DOCTYPE HTML>(for html5, or whatever doctype you pick)<html><head><title>(your subject here)</title></head><body>(your content here)</body></html>.
  • Check for html errors - an extra or missing </div> or </table> tag could break the webmail page displaying your email. You can find countless validators for your code online.
  • Go easy on large font sizes because this can trigger spam filters.
  • Use only standard web fonts such as Arial, Verdana, and Times New Roman. Avoid using fonts that are not commonly used. They may look "cool" but completely mess up your invitation if the email client doesn't support that font and replaces it with something else.
  • Keep the entire invitation in a 600 to 730 pixel wide table. While computer screens can support much larger widths, email is now mostly being reviewed on portable screens.
  • Don't design HTML in MS Word. It creates garbage code that is difficult to clean up.
  • Don't use anchors because some email clients don't support them.
  • Don't use Javascript, period. It will get your email caught in spam filters, and cause errors or not work at all for recipients that do get it.
  • Set your outermost table's background color to white to prevent it from defaulting to gray in some browsers. Set your background color in the table tag. Should you use a non-white background, test your email's look with a white background anyway since some email clients remove your background color.
  • If you don't understand the html-related terms discussed above, please don't create an html email invitation yourself. In those cases select a simple text-only invitation or let us do the design for you.

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Additional information of interest

Follow the links below to learn more about successful promotions with Event Me:

Testimonials from more than 500 Event Me clients

Our targeting criteria

Samples of invitations to past events

Tips and tricks for your event

Event Me ticket pricing tool