Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Gmail & Email Marketing

The fact that Gmail is in BETA is not a reason to ignore it. Gmail is quickly becoming a more popular free web-accessed email client, and its unique way of displaying email, while a bane to emarketers, will be something we all have to get used to.

Gmail turns email clients on its head. Sure, 7 or so years ago Hotmail started reading email from a database and not showing distinct letter objects in index form, like Eudora and sendmail. The trend that Gmail has spearheaded is to strip the email entirely and reformat the CSS according to its own style standards. As an email reader, I love this. All of my email is in 10pt Arial, and consistent. No longer do I have to suffer from my friend’s Outlook styles of italics and passport cards hogging up my inbox. But as an email marketer, it is a pain.

“But Gmail is in BETA.” The fact that Google puts applications in its version of “beta” seems to me more of a business category, to see if users embrace it and if the application has legs. It doesn’t mean that once it’s launched for real it’ll be any less dodgy of a web standard. Recently read that Gmail actually does have a published list of HTML support: Bulk Mail Senders, on Google’s site.


* All bulk messages you send must be formatted according to RFC 2822 SMTP standards and, if using HTML, standards.
* Messages should indicate that they are bulk mail, using the ‘Precedence: bulk’ header field.
* Attempts to hide the true sender of the message or the true landing page for any web links in the message may result in non-delivery.
* The subject of each message should be relevant to the body’s content and not be misleading.

Formatting HTML for Gmail

From my earlier HTML webmail test, and research on the topic, Gmail seems to be sensitive to these formatting quirks:
- no header information at all. It’s commented out.
- styles can be placed in HTML object tgs (not <script>)

I was talking to an email HTML developer the other day, and kept having to make this point: regress your code. It’s possible to have a single template render properly in various webmail browsers. You just have to pretend it’s 1995.

I dusted off my email test application and threw some formatting tests out to Gmail. This is how Gmail re-interpreted my HTML. Basically, it cleans it up and surrounds a <tbody> tag around the tables (see bolding in the samples below). I was testing some weak points in a client’s email, so I’m only really testing a few HTML features:
- table widths vs. TD/column widths
- putting style in HTML dom objects
- breaks before and after tables (had heard this was an issue)

Note: to view the source of Gmail’s email messages, do the following:
1. Right click on the message. select “view in new window.
2. Right click on the body of the message again and select “view frame source.” You will get the entire thread source, but near the bottom should be the HTML from the body of the most recent message.

My code:

<table bgcolor="red" border=1 width="400">
<td>Cell 1</td> </tr>
<td> <br>
<table border=1 bgcolor="green"><tr> <br>
<table border=1 bgcolor="yellow">

Gmail's Interpretation:
<span class="q" id="q_114b33b7a97ceffb_0"><table bgcolor="red" border="1" width="400">
<td>Cell 1</td><td style="color: white; font-family: arial;"> Cell 2</td>
<table bgcolor="green" border="1"><tbody><tr><td>Nested table #1</td><td>
<table bgcolor="yellow" border="1"><tbody><tr><td>Nested table #2</td></tr></tbody></table>

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
Written on Tuesday, 04. September 2007 at 11:13 In the category mechanics, techniques, technology. Follow the comments via RSS here: RSS-Feed. Share on FriendFeed

«  –  »


  1. [...] What People Read On Adventures in Email Marketing – Review of 10 Emails With Images Off. Outlook announced it was suppressing images in January. In June, I found that most major emailers were still quite sloppy about designing for images-off. – Creative Campaign Ideas. A quick review of my inbox and some emails of note that were beyond the usual email campaign ideas. – Gmail and Email Marketing . How Gmail is a very, very stringent technical requirement for email design, and methods and techniques to get around it. [...]

    Pingback: Adventures in Email Marketing » Adventures in Email Marketing Recognized in Top 20 List | – 02. October 2007 @ 10:55 am

  2. Maybe you can help????

    I would like to send an email newsletter to the mailing list of the Spiritual Awareness Community using gmail. I’ve tried in the past and 90% of my sent mails are rejected as SPAM because I am sending to approx. 250 people as BCC.

    I switched to a calendar and Invitation format but have received some complaints because the email addresses are visible to just about everone outside gmail, or the formatting is stripped an the email arrives as a single-paragraph jumble.

    I have just been reading about this “Precedence:bulk” that can be included in the header, but I don’t know how to implement it. How do I get it into the header of an email?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated! Please send an email to if you have instructions on how to do this.


    Comment: Michelle – 20. September 2008 @ 8:20 pm

  3. I am trying to use bordercolor in table tag, but the gmail mail content is not supporting the bordercolor.
    Can anyone tell me some other alternative to this?
    Below is my code:

    Gmail takes default black border color but not #99cc33.

    Comment: Manjiri Limaye – 18. December 2009 @ 11:00 pm

  4. I have got study quite a few perfect information listed here. Absolutely value book-marking regarding revisiting. I wonder the amount attempt you placed to develop this kind of superb insightful website.

    Comment: Bulk Email Software – 22. August 2013 @ 12:17 am

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Recent Posts


Recent Comments


Recent Trackbacks


Follow Me

  • Add to Google

WP-Design: Vlad -- Powered by WordPress -- XHTML 1.0
© 1998 All Rights Reserved