Everything you need to know about Outlook Rendering Issue!

Outlook error is very common in the B2B marketing. Outlook renders HTML using Microsoft Word which means a whole host of problems for email marketers and designers. With poor support for HTML and CSS, you may come across the whole host of annoying quirks.

Outlook refers to render HTML emails instead of using Internet Explorer. Microsoft has dropped IE as the rendering engine for its security reasons. In this way, we can have better control over the active content the rendering engine can display, while if you use Internet Explorer to render HTML then it would display the whole thing and could run virus-infected email automatically.

Below are the key issues for building emails for Outlook:

1. Background images not supported

There different types of backgrounds you can use in your emails.

Full body background
Pattern Background
Graphic Background
Section-wide background

But, Outlook 2007-2013 do not support any of the above backgrounds, so the ideal solution for rendering is by using VML (Vector Markup Language).

2. Animated GIFs do not work

A newer version of outlook (2003+) does not support animated GIF but it will display just the first frame of the animation.

3. Border-radius property

It is one of the most commonly used CSS property but sadly it is supported in neither of the Outlook variants.

4. Links getting converted to purple or blue

The links in the Email will turn to either blue or purple, with an underline, regardless of what colour text is used, and the blue/purple underline persists when viewed on different email clients.

5. Rendering CSS issues

It does not support CSS floats, CSS positioning, Flash or other plugins, you can use XHTML instead of HTML.

How important it is?

As email marketing continues to rise and we cannot simply worry about how email marketing platforms perform when combined with lead generation technology, fed with CRM data and automated with marketing automation providers. We should not think ourselves with how it renders on other platforms.

Outlook is very popular in the B2B world and how emails render in Outlook is 70% of the B2B delivery environment for a lot of people hence this makes it a high-priority for everyone. That’s why you should take necessary measures to make sure emails sent to Outlook inboxes render as well as they can.

Our recommendations

Due to the lack of support for many CSS, we know that table-based layouts are a necessity for optimization or you can use conditional CSS to target Outlook 2016 specifically.

Fill your emails with useful content will be our suggestion. You can go a plain text HTML approach, which is best for Outlook and has seen click-through rates increase to 15%. Without a doubt, useful content trumps graphic discrepancies any day of the week.

Lastly, and we cannot stress this enough: test, test and test your emails again. Keep testing your emails for rendering issues because it is the only way to make sure your emails render consistently.

What can we expect?

Microsoft will come up with a new email client/rendering engine soon for the new Outlook Web App experience powered by Office 365. Till then Outlook.com is Microsoft’s email service (back-end) and Outlook Mail is the web email client (front-end) that will let you browse your Outlook.com email account.

On the web suite of apps, Outlook Mail is part of the Outlook. Outlook, or Office Outlook, is Microsoft’s desktop email client which can be used with Outlook.com email addresses or with any other email addresses.