Is It Too Early to Use HTML5 Doctype in Emails?

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The new HTML5 format is sure to provide some interesting opportunities for email marketers, but it is important to be properly prepared. As with every type of change, email marketers will need to carefully test their templates and their messages.

Marketers will also need to stay up to date and keep abreast of changes in the industry. Without the right testing and implementation, the change to HTML5 could harm your business and hurt your response rates.

What Can HTML5 and CSS3 Do in Emails

While many email marketers prefer to stick to the same old thing, there are some valid reasons to consider using the new HTML5 tags in your messages. Erring on the side of caution may have been a smart move in the past, but the new features of HTML5 and CSS3 make things pretty compelling.

One of the most intriguing features of HTML5 and CSS3 is the availability of the <video> tag. The ability to include video in email messages and incorporate responsive templates are two of the most powerful arguments for moving to the new format.

What Are the New Tags?
The <video> tag is not the only new feature of HTML5. The new format removes a few old tags from the earlier HTML4 format, but it also adds thirty new ones in their place. Some of those new tags, including <mark> and <progress>, could be of great interest to email marketers.

The <mark> tag is an interesting addition to the HTML5 format. Using the tag makes the enclosed text look as if it has been highlighted with a marker. That can be a good way to make your text stand out and gain the attention of your readers.

The <progress> tag is another interesting HTML5 tag for email marketers to use. The <progress> tag creates an animated green bar like the one users see when they download a file.

An additional tag could be more useful for email marketers. The <canvas> tag allows marketers to create graphics right on the page, without having to link to an external file. While older tags like <div> can also do that, the <canvas> tag is more powerful and more flexible. It is important to note, however, that so far the tag does not work in either browser-based or standalone email viewers, so its usefulness could be somewhat limited at least for the time being.

How to Implement HTML5

Some of the new tags included in HTML5 do have potential, but as always testing is the key. For instance, tests have shown the potentially powerful <mark> tag so far works only in the Thunderbird and email clients, and that could severely limit its usefulness.

It is important to note that so far the HTML5 format is most compatible with the email platform. Marketers with a large percentage of users might get more value from the new format than those whose list members use a wider variety of email clients.

So far testing has shown that while HTML5 certainly has potential, email marketers do not need to rush the change or change the way they do business. It appears that HTML5 still has a ways to go for its features to be truly useful to email marketers. As always, testing and constant vigilant are the keys. Staying abreast of the changes in HTML and CSS and testing those changes with your own email list will help you take advantage of the opportunities while minimizing the risks.

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