[thelist] Email Best Practices and Standards - B2B

Christopher Mahan chris_mahan at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 21 15:36:05 CDT 2004

--- Janet Nabring-Stager <jnabring at yahoo.com> wrote:
> <de-lurking>
> Trying to find out if anyone has resources/anecdotes/information on
> best practices forer sending emails to B2B customs.

The best is plain text, with link to the web site for the pretty html

> I work for a Fortune 1000 manufacturer.  We currently send out
> multi-part MIME emails to our customers for Advanced Shipment
> Notifications and Order Acknowledgements.
> Our IT department wants us to use the content their Document
> Management System can provide.  Rightfully so, they want to avoid
> customization to the DMS.  This content would either be a PDF or a
> TIF.  We need to change our data source due to an ERP
> implementation, so we have to make a change on our backend
> regardless.

Find out if the system can handle plain text (would be surprised if
it didn't) and if not, a really simple pdf which can be run throught
a script to extract the text and send the text out (although it would
be quirky. How about creating the PDF from the email and storing that
in the DMS.

Also, bear in mind that dealing with program-generation of TIF or
PDFs opens a nasty can of worms. 

> We are against this idea and want to continue with the multi-part
> MIME emails.  Our customers are currently happy with this format
> and we don't want to increase troublshooting phone calls to our
> department.  We can then further customize these emails with small
> marketing messages as needed.

It's a political issue within your company. I would make a test run
with your most astute customer, get his feedback, and run the results
up the chain of command. The marketing Director's desk is a good
place for that. They don't want to piss off the cutomers.

> Also, the TIF format isn't standardized across all email platforms,
> as far as I know.  Plus, PDFs can be stripped out by email virus
> scan software, plus they weigh more than a standard HTML email.


> On the plus side, IT does want to ensure the same data is available
> from the document management system and via email and that the
> formats are standardized.

Tell IT to take a flying leap. hum. no. 
If IT can dictate the solution, you'll have to comply, and you may
lose some goodwill with your customers.

I think that decision is out of your hands, really, so don't sweat it
too much.

> We are under the impression that making a user click through to a
> location on our server or to open an attacment to view a PDF is a
> bad idea, as it decreased usability for the customer.

Very bad idea. Anti-virus will eat it alive. Again, if you must use
pdf, then link to your website from a plain-text email.

> I'm not looking to start a huge argument or debate (even though I
> know this is the subject of email and will probably do just that)
> but rather want to hear of any best practices resources or even
> anecdotal stories.

> Many thanks in advance - I'm hoping the wealth of knowledge on this
> list can assist me!

You're welcome. You'll probably get more that you bargained for.

Chris Mahan
818.943.1850 cell
chris_mahan at yahoo.com
chris.mahan at gmail.com

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