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Font Best Practices in Email

Font Best Practices in Email

When you think of your style guide, a few things come to mind: your logo, brand colors and, of course, fonts. However, out of those elements, your fonts can be trickiest. From file types to licensing, understanding the ins and outs of fonts can be a headache.

Never fear! We’re here to help. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about fonts in email design so you can maintain that brand consistency your customers know and love.

Font File Types

First things first! Let’s do a quick overview of the different font file types you’ll need.

  • True Type Font (TTF): TTF was developed by Apple and Microsoft in the late 1980s and is the most common font format for both Mac OS and Windows.
  • OpenType Font (OTF): OTF is the latest font format developed by Adobe and Microsoft. Commonly used on Mac OS and Windows, these fonts also offer ligatures, fractions, and contextual glyphs.
  • Web Open Font Format (WOFF): Developed in 2009, WOFF is the W3C recommendation for web fonts and is supported by most browsers.
  • Embedded OpenType (EOT): EOT fonts are compact variations of Microsoft’s Open Type fonts.
  • Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG): SVG fonts are text files containing the glyph outlines as if they were single vector objects to render without a font file available.

This chart shows the browser support for each font type. Due to the varying degrees of support, it’s best to include all these font types in your code when possible.


Tip: Interested in learning more about utilizing web fonts? The awesome chart above is from W3School’s in-depth rundown of CSS3 Web Fonts.

Font Licensing

When choosing which fonts to use, always make sure that you are following the licensing agreement. Some fonts found on “free” font sites are only free for personal use or by donation. Any usage not following the font license could result in costly legal action and fines.

You’ll also need to verify what type of license your font has. While it might not be the most fun task, read over your font license agreement before proceeding with any usage. This will guarantee that you’re covering all the bases before you start designing. Most fonts will have a web font license available, which means it’s A-OK for email use. However, if you have materials to print, you may not be able to use the same font. Some fonts have a print-only license, which means you can’t use your chosen web font for print.

Don’t forget to check the usage numbers of the license, too! If you only purchase a single-use license for a font, it’s not valid to share on multiple computers or with your third-party design vendors. The license will outline how many computers the font can be installed on, as well as any online traffic restrictions for web fonts (meaning you pay based on how many visitors you have to your website). It’s extremely important to follow the guidelines of your font license to maintain headache-free use. Designshack did a great in-depth article called What is a font license? (And do I need one?) that may answer some more of your questions.

Some font libraries like Google Fonts are free for personal or commercial use. These are a great alternative if you don’t have a license for some of the larger type foundries.

Inbox Restrictions

Modern email inboxes have much more support for custom fonts than before, but there are still (unfortunately) some restrictions. Some inboxes like the Apple Mail app utilize HTML and CSS in a very similar manner to an internet browser, but others have extremely limited support for CSS3 and HTML5 coding. Understanding browser rendering will help you leverage your custom font usage in email sends.

While you may think it’ll be easier to toss your text into an image and call it a day, there are a lot of reasons to try to include as much live HTML text as possible. For more info on HTML, check out The Importance of Live Text in Email.

To ensure consistent browser rendering for your fonts, follow these tips:

  • Research inbox support Some inboxes have limited code support. Before implementing any bells and whistles, determine what rendering issues could appear and plan how to address them. Some issues can be addressed with specialized tags like the Microsoft Office HTML & XML Reference Guide outlines. Others have available backups or fixes to put in place. Knowing the code support before you start will help ease frustrations during the troubleshooting process.
  • Avoid JavaScript-based web fonts While sites like Typekit offer some amazing fonts for web use, most inboxes can’t run JavaScript. There are also limitations to the licensing, which may limit how many times the font can be viewed. The safest bet is to avoid these fonts in your email messages and only use them on your website or in graphics.
  • Leverage CSS to use custom fonts A lot of inboxes support CSS in the <head> of the message body which allows the use of custom fonts in your email.
    • Find your favorite Google Fonts The Google Font Library has hundreds of high-quality fonts that can easily be implemented into your email sends. If you’re using Listrak Composer, many popular Google Fonts are already built-in and ready to use! Simply use a text-based element and the available fonts will already populate the editor’s font list. If your font isn’t available in Composer, contact your account manager to have it added! For HTML sends, simply get the @import provided and add it to your document.
    • Purchase on Typography.comWith a similar implementation to Google Fonts, offers a beautiful collection of high-end fonts for use in your email messages.
    • Utilize a linked custom font If you have a licensed custom font uploaded to a server, it’s possible to use a CSS font-face import to call the files for your email. These fonts will render in the same manner as Google Fonts. When using an uploaded custom font, you will need to use the @font-face method.
    • Keep your code clean with an external stylesheet All inboxes that support @import will also support an external stylesheet, if you want to keep your styles organized and clutter-free.
    • Always choose an appropriate fallback font For inboxes that don’t support custom fonts and CSS, choose a similar standard font for your font stack. Otherwise, when your custom font doesn’t render, your text will display in the system default (which is usually Times New Roman). Try to use a font of similar structure, character width and style so the experience is very similar with and without custom fonts displaying.
      • Tip: Need help picking your fallback fonts? CSS Font Stack has a great overview of standard fonts and popularity by the operating system.
  • Test, test, test…and then test again! When utilizing techniques and code which might not be supported by all inboxes, testing is more important than ever to ensure the quality of your email messages.

Once you’re on the right path to using custom fonts, your emails will now be better suited to your branding and look great in the inbox!

Article originally published at
Author: Melissa Lobach

If you would like to see the benefits and effects that Email Marketing can have for your business take a look at our Email Marketing Services page.

Personalizing Customer Experiences at Scale

Personalizing Customer Experiences at Scale

Personalization has become integral to the customer journey and is now a key driver of brand loyalty across all channels. Consumers are much more likely to buy from brands – both in-store and online – when offers are personalized. And it’s not just your brand communications that need to be more relevant: consumers are also interested in purchasing more personalized products and services, and are willing to wait longer to get them.

You know more about your customers than ever before. But isn’t one of your biggest challenges how to make sense of all that customer data so your marketing messages can be more targeted and relevant? In some ways, the proliferation of data and bigger, more complex marketing stacks have made the goal of deeper personalization both easier to visualize and more difficult to implement. While most companies agree that personalization is critical to their current and future success, IT roadblocks and legacy technology are major barriers to their personalization efforts.

It’s not just about greeting customers by name when they return to your website, either. Consumers expect dynamic, relevant email messages and ads across social media, the web and mobile devices. As the internet of things (IoT) continues to expand, the lines between digital and offline marketing are blurring, and brands can now send personalized offers to customers at the physical point of sale (POS) through smart watches, in-store kiosks, and other connected devices.

That’s why AI-driven systems have become critical to providing marketers with the accuracy, speed and scale necessary to personalize interactions throughout the customer journey. AI is capable of analyzing massive amounts of data that your team alone can’t mine. And beyond just connecting that data, AI-powered, real-time personalization tools learn from customer interactions and patterns across offline and online channels in milliseconds. While humans remain in the driver’s seat for strategy and creative, machines can analyze, process and deliver individualized content on the fly to each customer.

Let’s look at how some enterprise marketing organizations are ramping up their personalization strategies to improve the customer experience, as well as increase revenue and conversions.

Leveraging the need for speed

In today’s competitive retail banking market, customers increasingly expect highly personalized services. But inertia – and the perception that switching banks is hard – lead many people to stay with their banks, even when dissatisfied.

Online bank ING DIRECT, which had already proven itself a nimble challenger to bricks-and-mortar competitors, decided personalization was the key to growing its Australian business even faster. The company set a goal to double its customer acquisition rate in one year by delivering targeted offers and service information to consumers in near-real time and at scale. The challenge was how to accelerate its marketing communication processes, which had been done manually in the past.

Using IBM Campaign and IBM Interact as the foundation for a new automated approach, ING DIRECT marketers were able to dramatically shorten the time required to create and deliver personalized messages to individual consumers. All channel interactions were integrated into a single view, allowing the company to understand exactly where every individual was in the buying cycle, and tailoring its product recommendations to them based on their individual needs.

As a result, ING DIRECT cut its time-to-market for personalized campaigns in half, increased cross-sell rates in its call centers and boosted incremental sales conversions by up to 120 percent. An added benefit is that marketers are now spending less time preparing data and more time providing value-added analysis. Going forward, ING DIRECT plans to extend its personalized marketing capabilities into the display advertising space to dynamically serve programmatic ads to each customer based on their individual profiles.

Not just a cup of coffee

Customer loyalty and personalization go hand in hand, as companies that listen and respond to every customer interaction drive higher brand engagement and advocacy. European-based coffeehouse chain Caffè Nero knew that its customers viewed visits to its stores as an experience, rather than just a jolt of caffeine. Marketers annually run four quarterly campaigns comprising two seasonal promotions (Christmas and summer) and two coffee-focused campaigns — as well as a number of smaller product launches.

The challenge for the coffeehouse was to increase customer engagement by providing more personalized, timely communications that would improve awareness of its seasonal specials and turn online interactions into in-person customer spend.

Caffè Nero targeted loyalty cardholders for a new marketing communications push to turn customers into brand advocates. The company chose IBM Watson Campaign Automation to deploy a three-point personalization strategy based on persona segmenting and behavioral mapping, which provided marketers with valuable data at every touchpoint. When a new customer signed up for the pre-paid loyalty card, a welcome email was delivered to start the engagement process. Transactional emails that incentivize customers to make a related purchase experience clickthrough rates that are three times higher than emails featuring non-transactional messages.

In addition to informing the customer about offers, these emails gathered personal information, such as frequency of use and preferences, which was pivotal to the persona mapping process. Automated monthly statements then became a vehicle for Caffè Nero to engage with its registered customers on a regular basis, providing personalized information on card balances, as well as updates on seasonal products and new releases.


Caffè Nero has since seen cardholders visit and spend twice as much as a lookalike control group. The company has tallied a 70 percent email open rate among cardholders, significantly driving offline purchases. Results also show that 68 percent of customers receiving personalized emails come in for coffee within the week. By implementing these nurture programs, the company can move forward with a more segmented and laser-focused approach to future customer communications.

Getting personalization right

Using personalization to improve customer retention can have a direct impact on your company’s bottom-line. It’s simply more expensive to acquire a new customer than to get current customers to spend more. With that in mind, Saudi-based telecommunications provider Mobily decided the way to increase customer use of its mobile data services was to improve the relevance of its marketing communications.

To achieve its goal, Mobily marketers utilized IBM® Watson® Marketing solutions to begin identifying customers with an appetite for data, and then offering them compelling new products and offers to create upsell opportunities. The key was to match Mobily’s data offerings — including on-demand media, games and mobile TV — to the most relevant audiences. Marketers wanted to go beyond segmentation based on broad groups of customers to create “micro-segments” based on actual behavioral data from individual customers. This approach enabled the company to personalize its marketing activities to match unique customer needs and preferences on any channel.

The result has been a dramatic increase in average revenue per mobile user (ARPU), as well as a decrease in customer churn, thanks to the implementation of more advanced predictive modeling. Mobily is now positioned to integrate multiple data sources to enrich its understanding of each customer, including mobile usage patterns, usage frequency, in-store visits and contact center calls. In-store personnel and contact center representatives are now equipped to inspire customers with services and products they may not otherwise have considered.


Happy customers, more conversions

Your customers won’t settle for a bad or even just a bland experience anymore. They want personalized offers that deliver what they need at every stage of their buying journey — and what they need is changing all the time. By leveraging the power of AI, you can gather in-the-moment insights that will help you predict what your customers want. And once you know what they’re looking for, you can design campaigns that deliver the right experience wherever and whenever it’s relevant to them. Blending machine-driven analytics and your creativity is the key to creating the best customer experience you can.

ARTICLE CREDITS:Article originally published at

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