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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).
  • Setting your font size with <font> tags has the same effect as using relative sizes with styles (ems, or "smaller" etc.) - the displayed font size depends on the 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 absolut sizes (in pixels or points) because the intended layout of text and images will look the same next to each other whereever they are displayed. We also avoid font tags altogether and apply separate styles to <span> tags within the text instead, if necessary.
  • Because some email clients may not honor your inline styles, we suggest to use standard html elements with appropriate default behaviors in your styled emails. For example, if you use <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. However, you should fully define the text settings for each tag that you use because it will otherwise inherit the default setting from the displaying browser or webmail page, if any. While <b> and <i> might be fairly safe to use, <em>, <strong> and more exotic ones like <def> etc. warrant more caution (and verbose html code to prevent style accidents).
  • 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 (even if it is only a non-breaking space).
  • 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 create 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. We use a style sheet to set links to be underlined on mouseover on not underlined otherwise, but it won't work in all environments. Unfortunately, Windows Live Hotmail will clip your style sheet if you set it to named elements. Hotmail instead sets your "global" style sheet to a div tag that they create to contain your email, so it will apply to your entire email and you cannot apply it to only parts of your message.

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 won't be missed. 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 happy if you are actually 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. It won't work in the body tag or with styles. 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. There is an issue with FireFox displaying images in Windows Live Hotmail with extra spaces around them, making a mess out of split images. 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 <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.
  • 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, such as Allegro BT or Atlantic Inline. 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.
  • Don't design HTML in MS Word. It creates garbage code.
  • 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 and not in the body tag. Should you use a non-white background, test your email's look with a white background anyway since some email clients remove the 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