Here's your UTOTD: Unsolicited Tip Of the Day ;-)

** The never ending War - HTML vs. Text **

Regardless of what kind of ezine you publish -
HTML, Text or Both - it is extremely important to be fully
aware of the various aspects involved so that you can be
sure that you have made a well informed decision.

In this article, I discuss both the benefits and the
drawbacks of publishing a HTML ezine.

** Drawbacks of a HTML Ezine **

1. Not everyone sees your ezine the way you want it seen.
Different email clients will render it differently.
While the number of non-HTML email clients is almost
negligible, you've got to know that there are folks out
there who will still see an unintelligible mass of junk.

2. HTML emails are larger than their textual counterparts.
This may caus a lot of people (especially those who pay
by the minute to download their email) to scramble for your
text option, if you have one. If you don't, then you've
probably lost them - and potentially hundreds of dollars
in future sales - for good!

3. Broken Images:
If you have used non-inline images, which get downloaded
as your ezine gets read in real-time, and if your subscriber
is reading your ezine offline, then your HTML ezine
can look pretty goofy - with broken images, misaligned
tables, etc.

4. Forwarding:
Your subscribers won't be able to forward your ezine
with the same ease they could with text. HTML formatting
usually gets screwed up when forwarded, and this might
cause you to miss out on many "recommendations" that come
from your satisfied readers forwarding your ezine to their
friends or business associates.


** Benefits of a HTML Ezine **

1. << Better tracking capabilities >>
In my ezine at http://www.BabyNamesIndia.com/infoconnexions/archives ,
I include a counter in my newsletter, which gives me
some basic statistics about how many times my ezine was
read (or atleast opened), at what times it was read, etc.

I even take this one step further - I use different
counters for different groups that I send my newsletter
to - for example, Colleagues, Friends, Subscribers through
my web site, Business contacts, etc. So, every single time
my ezine is published, I know how many of my friends, and
how many of my web site visitors are reading my ezine.

2. << More visually appealing >>
Use this wisely. Overdoing the aesthetics can result in
unsubs. Use the design to improve usability and
readability, not to wow your audience with your design
skills. Content is King, remember?

3. << Affiliate Link Tracking >>
It is much easier to hide/track affiliate links in a
HTML ezine.

Of course, you can do this in a text version too, by doing
something like http://www.CyberConneXions.com/links/vb.html
but its definitely more effective in a HTML ezine, where
you can be sure of being compensated when someone clicks
on your affiliate link in your ezine.

This means, more income from a HTML ezine.

This of course, leads to a whole new discussion, regarding
the ethics involved in clicking affiliate links even when
you know it is one. But I will not go there for now.

One low-tech way to work around these problems posed by a
HTML ezine is to publish both text and HTML versions of
your ezine, thus giving your subscribers a choice.

There are also ways around the problem that HTML ezines
cannnot be easily forwarded. See example below.

<< Forwarding >>
You can publish a link to a form on your web site which
they can use to 'Tell a Friend'. Services like Recommend-it
offer incentives to your subscribers to recommend your
content to their friends. But, ideally, its best to use
your own form and keep your subscriber's information
secure and to yourself.

There can be any number of discussions and arguments about
which is better, but ultimately, you are the best judge.

All these above factors should be weighed in terms of what
your site is about, what your ezine is about, and most
importantly, who your subscribers are and what they want.

Your friendly neighbourhood Internet-handy-man ;-)

Ravi Jayagopal