Hotmail test interactive email messages with 'Active Mail'

Hotmail have announced a new technology in their inbox called Active Views, which brings more ‘app-like’ technology to email by allowing it’s contents to be up-to-date and more interactive. In the demo video below, a mailing from a hotel site allows the user to search for rooms using a booking widget and browse results, all without leaving the email. The service is currently in a trial with Orbitz, Monster, Netflix and LinkedIn.

In the past we’ve seen similar tests from both Gmail and Yahoo (in Active Mail). Innovations like these could really revolutionize the email marketing experience for customers, but only if the inherent javascript and iframe based security concerns can be responsibly handled.

More information on this Techcrunch article, the Hotmail Blog and find out about the tech behind the system at Microsoft Web Sandbox.

Starbucks Newsletter: Full Width Backgrounds

The Starbucks Card Newsletter is a great example of using full width background imagery in an email campaign – a useful way to add extra brand elements and style, drawing the email out from the regular email client page background. The main content area of the email is still within a 700px limit, so the extra background space will collapse down for those using smaller browsers.

In terms of the artwork, the coffee-bean-sack texture is on brand and follows the kind of textured look that  is very ‘in’ at the moment on the web. Elsewhere there’s some standard newsletter fayre, perhaps it’d be good to bring the account management stuff up so it’s more prominent.

Implementing background images in email

Unlike most background images, those applied to the <body> tag do work in Outlook 2007. A few other email clients don’t though, so it’s best to apply the background to both the <body> and a 100% width table, just to be sure.

Email Marketing Blog Roundup: 22 Oct 2010

It’s been a while since we posted up some picks from other email marketing blogs – here’s some recent articles we like!

Sh!t my dad says about email marketing

Really good insight from someone outside the industry – by Chris Donald

Email’s Alive, But You’re Doing It Wrong

Lots of really good points about email vs. social, and how people are dropping the ball in email, by Lisa Barone.

Dell Subject Line: We Come In Peace

Nice campaign review by Remy Bergsma

Learning from an Unsubscribe

Really good pointers here from Campaign Monitor, around learnings you can make when a user unsubscribes.

Follow @iamelliot on twitter for more email marketing updates!