Lately there has been a great deal of interest
in adding Flash to your everyday run-of-the-mill email
so you can send it to your clients, prospects or newsletter
subscribers. Marketing has descended from upon high and
declared it, the small business client wants it, and an
executive in management has read about it.
Well, why not?
The fact of the matter is that email HTML
browsers are just not equal to their web browser equivalents.
This is further made complex by the wide variety of settings,
preferences, security updates, versions, and third-party
applications which make the user experience hard to predict.
This is an interesting problem to contend
with when creating, designing and marketing your HTML
email. Most likely you are about to hate what I am about
to say, however, please do not shoot the messenger.
You should never use Flash or any other
Rich Media piece in your HTML email unless you absolutely
know that the email client your recipient uses can handle
Flash content. Further, you should only send Flash/Rich
Media content to someone who has requested it, or you
have an agreed upon marketing relationship. The first
time that I had to wait almost an hour to download what
turned out to be a Flash Email, I was on a Hotel dialup
account. That one Flash Email cost nearly $10.00 and an
hour of my time.
Not exactly the relationship you want to
enter into with your customers or clients.
So if you absolutely have to send Flash
content via email, here are a few tips you should remember.
Do not try to control
your Flash with active scripting.
Due to the wide variety of email clients,
browsers, security settings, updates, and service packs
installed, it is difficult to predict how a script will
cause browsers & Outlook 2000 to disable and active
scripting contained in an email document (there has been
an increase in email security due to malicious scripts).
You're better of
attaching or sending a link.
The majority of web-based email clients
(Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) will strip out your Flash content.
It is not uncommon to send embedded Flash content only
to have the recipient open it in their web-based client
and see absolutely nothing.
You also cannot rely on a <NOEMBED>
to provide an alternate link for the content. You will
need to include a text link before or after your Flash
content for all Web-based recipients and those whose systems,
ISP, network security, or other variables interfere with
their viewing of Flash content.
By sending your Flash content as an attachment
or a link, you can work around some of these limitations
imposed by making the Flash content render in the browser
rather in your email. That way, if your recipient has
the plugin, they can view the Flash file.
Make sure your
files do not immediately start playing.
Control your content with an onClick, or
other event. Just a nice "Click here for an important
message." is all you need. Allow the viewer to start
the presentation when they are ready. A Flash or Shockwave
piece, which begins streaming if viewed in an Outlook
preview window, will start a second time when the email
is opened. This will usually cause quite a mess with the
recipient's sound system, not to mention distort your
Nothing will get your Flash email deleted
quicker than if it causes unexpected sounds to suddenly
come pouring loudly from the recipient's computer during
These are just a few things you should watch
out for if you plan to design, send and expect responses
to your Flash emails.
Flash & other Rich Media may all be
year 2001 - "bleeding edge" for the world of
web browsers. Unfortunately your average HTML Email browser
seems stuck at about early 1998.