Do you outsource HTML email coding?

I tend to avoid HTML email coding unless an existing client asks for it (i.e. if someone comes to me just wanting HTML emails I say no).

I recently said yes to a “quick and easy mailer” and regretted it making me consider whether, as someone who makes a living making sites that tend to take 2 weeks – 3 months, coding HTML emails are simply toxic to my business as a freelancer.

This is what I find to be typical of HTML email campaigns:

  • The coding experience is horrible
  • The client uses Outlook and the designer/developer doesn’t (I don’t do these often enough to justify paying for an email testing service — I make this clear from day one)
  • The mailing list from the clients is often a mess
  • The data is sometimes sensitive and they likely should get you to sign something before handing it over, but don’t
  • They’re always last minute and you keep getting calls to make amends, send tests, add people to the list and each time it breaks you from the larger job you are trying to do
  • The pay is small but the risk is high: make a typo on a website and you can easily correct it, you can’t do that on a mailer that’s been sent out
  • Designed HTML emails tend to have poor open rates and clickthrough rates. See so it often feels like flogging a dead horse anyway
  • Corporate clients often complain they don’t receive the tests.

The agency told me this job would take an hour. Well 4.5 hours later, countless revisions and phone calls and lots of wasted time breaking off from a larger project and it still isn’t sent.

So, why did I do it? Why do I keep allowing amends? The agency give me a lot of work and you feel like you can’t say no and that the next round of amends will be the last. I just wondered if any of you out there do say no and instead use a company that does HTML emails day-in, day-out. I am now of the opinion that these are the kinds of people who should do these kinds of jobs and that is the best for freelances like me and the client.

Finally, with the GDPR looming I think it is a good time to start thinking about whether you want to handle other people’s data for the small profit that HTML emails make.

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