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Cranach, Venus
Pablo 1.5

Pablo Journal 1.5

Art Quarter Fine Art Logo

Posts on Html Mail

I included posts to show why html mail is important (IMHO)
as well as posts discussing technical details.

If you want to read answers to my posts, please email me.
I have arranged the mails by date.

Stuck, Sensuality
Pablo 1.7

Pablo Journal 1.7

Feedback is always welcome - negative, too! Join the html-mail discussion list!

ArtWorld=list of art lovers · IDay=InternetDay · Biz=Paul Myer's list · LED=LinkExchangeDigest · eZines=Otis Gospodnetic's list · EMD=George Matyiewicz' list · I-Sales=John Audette's list

1 [artworld] Let's get to the point, 07-17-98 2 [artworld] html mail 07-17-98
3 IDay, FYI: problems with Netscape 4.04 07-21-98 4 [Biz] ePub formats / html mail experience 08-27-98
5 [Biz] ePub formats / html mail experience 08-27-98 6 [Biz] Re: ePub formats 08-27-98
7 [Biz] Re: Uses for HTML in ePubs 08-28-98 8 LED html mail 10-07-98
9 [eZines]: need help :) 11-07-98 10 EMD: Reply to Jan 11-30-98
11 I-Sales: Re: HTML Newsletters 01-28-99 12 I-Sales: Re: HTML Email or Text/Sample 02-03-99
13 email list managing program

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Subject: Re: [artworld] Let's get to the point

Date: Fri, 17 Jul 1998 16:20:19 +0200
From: Werner Stürenburg
To: artworld@onelist.com

Now this was really fine - I enjoyed all the emotion showing the power that drives you all!

But - how can we get together? Yes, we all live on different planets. Go ahead and look at the sites of those who show an address here! One single picture shows you the distance!

In my introductory letter, I mentioned Max' and Ted's works as seen from their pages, I just had a look at Liz' site - that's three planets, and I bet, we have some more here around. Now take all those art lovers, you will find that we just can't understand each other.

When I was desperately in need of someone to talk to 25 years ago, I went to the local museum to ask for an address. This guy wanted to see some of my work first! Then he qualified it: "You're at the very beginning!" (True, I did not claim anything else!) But finally he suggested meeting someone similar in background and preferences, but 20 years older than me.

The first question this artist posed was: "Don't you know that artists are never interested in the work of other artists?" The second: "How could you presume that anybody could be interested in your work?"

Are we talking art here? How come you all write dumb text only letters? How come nobody gives a link at least for some image to show what he is talking about? I want you all to change to html mail. Include pictures and prove with respect to them what you mean. For example: I hear Per Kirkeby is called a master. Show it to me, prove it to me, I am ignorant. No more general fuss!

The aforementioned Pirsig holds that quality cannot be defined but is at the center of it all. When finished, he observed the total identity to what Lao Tse called tao. The tao that can be talked about is not the tao. But tao is the mother of it all.

How come we all understand something different when talking about quality? He proposes experience. When I was a teacher, 20 years ago, I remember that I shifted to music. Pupils had lots of experience with commercials and movies and advertisements, but not with art proper. They made quality judgments relating to all things, but nobody ever had been in a museum. How can you talk about art, then?

But with music it was easy to make the point. They were 16, 17 years old. They listened to music all the time, for years. I asked what they liked now. It was Pink Floyd, then, to take an example. Then I asked what they liked being 12. Abba, they said. Ok, do you like Abba any more? Unanimously: No, not at all. Don't have to argue here. They knew. Experience. Ok. Can you imagine that in 5 years from now, you will not like Pink Floyd any more? They got the point.

Now my own children cannot understand my paintings - no wonder. I cannot understand chinese music - no wonder either. They may like them, I may like the music, but I am not able to judge. My children are not interested in art at all - ok. But if they would become artists or art lovers, they would have to make experiences and they would grow. They would discover their world. They would judge from their point of development. Perfect.

Same with novels. I can read all novels they like, maybe I like some of them, too, but they in turn can't read all novels I like, and certainly they would not like them. I am always 30 years ahead of them, but the difference becomes less important. I understand my father much better now, as I am 50 and he is 77. Same with my brother, 11 years younger. His kids are small, mine almost grown up, he makes the experiences right now I made 10 years ago.

But: If I were to get interested in chinese music I would inevitably make quality experiences and grow as much as I can. Possibly, I would become an expert in chinese music. You get the point.

I assume, we are all grown up (this list requires to be at least 13). We have different experiences. We have different goals. We can produces a whole bunch of letters, each of us talking only to ourselves. That would be ok, it helps a lot. But we could do more!

I assume all of us can produce and receive html mail, if not, tell me, I will help you get a program that can. Include images and get to the point. Let's discuss real things, not hot air! When it comes to art, you got to show. We have all the technical opportunities, we live in a fortunate age, all relevant art is reproduced or can be reproduced easily, scan it, send it! You are on the net already. A scanner is cheap these days.

Then we will see what you are talking about. We can talk about art. We should talk about your art. Who is interested in Kirkeby? The latter will come into play when there is a point to prove. Remember, the most important thing for you on this whole world is you, nothing else! Same for me.

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Subject: [artworld] html mail

Date: Fri, 17 Jul 1998 19:54:38 +0200
From: Werner Stürenburg
To: artworld@onelist.com

Ok, so you don't know what html mail is.

Very easy. If you ever produced a page in a html editor you probably know that html is just plain text enriched with something like <b> for "bold begin", </b> for "bold end" and the like. I agree, we don't need this to make our point, but it's pretty clear that this comes at minimal cost, so I'd prefer that to *bolding* this way (which costs 2 "*" also).

Now the web is the internet with images. If you visit my site with images turned off you can equally well stay home. Or go to the museum when all the pictures are stored away in the basement. It just doesn't make sense.

We all know that loading images can be tedious online, so people using huge images on their pages kick themselves out of business. The surfer just won't wait long enough.

That's why you will use thumbnails, to give them a hint what could be seen, so s/he can decide if it's worth the effort. Imagine you'd give them a mere description! Forget about it!

I can show you places where they expect you to buy a work of art just from a description, without anything to see! It simply won't work unless you know the picture already, as might be the case with a copy of a famous print of a famous artist you were looking for really long already.

It is not bandwidth that is annoying but time. If the images were there on the spot I would not care for bandwidth. So you will give the surfer some text so s/he can read along while the image(s ) load.

Here is where email comes in! You retrieve your mail while doing some other work, maybe just surfing or reading the first mails. You certainly won't watch the mails come in. They just keep coming. I don't know what lists you subscribed to, but I got some 20, 30 mails a day. Some are personal, most short, quite a lot are digests or moderated lists.

These weigh some 20, 30, 40 KB, but that's accepted. Lots of people writing their ass off every day. Hard to find something valuable in between. No pictures. No big signatures allowed. No ASCII "art".

Those people are discussing business, so images don't seem to count. But I got one newsletter I read with much interest. There is only one article every day. Most of them are very helpful. And each is accompanied by a photo of the author.

You got to be linked to the net while opening, though, so that's kind of fuss, but nevertheless. You see the guy who's talking. And that makes quite a difference! You kind of know how to filter that stuff s/he writes. If you can take them serious. Almost as if you are talking to somebody, taking in millions of impressions every second.

Well, when I thought of what I could give people for free, it was no question that this had to be delivered by mail and it had to include pictures, too. You can look at the first three issues of my Art Journal:
http://art-quarter.com/beck/joe/aj/1/1
http://art-quarter.com/beck/joe/aj/1/2
http://art-quarter.com/beck/joe/aj/1/3
They are come at 20 to 50 KB, the last one includes 6 images, clippings from Rembrandt, Rubens, Ingres and Picasso. (Text is about 10 KB.) How could I make my point if I were to drop the images?

If you will follow my argumentation, I will be glad to tell you how this can be done. Chances are, you can read and write html already. It is just not customary yet. But we will have our reason to use it.

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Subject: FYI: problems with Netscape 4.04

Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 15:26:24 +0200
From: Werner Stürenburg
To: internetday-request@internetday.com

I subscribed to the letter some time ago when it looked quite different from now. Occasionally Netscape on Win95 crashed when trying to read the letter. As this is the only one in html format and I never experienced it with other mail, I guess it must be this reason.

If I am right, this occurs when iday is the last in the Inbox queue and I am offline. Once there, you can nicely reproduce the crash if there is another mail before that in the queue. If not, Netscape crushed right away.

Solution: Connect to the Internet, start Netscape. Funny. I think if I am to notify Netscape they would not bother. And maybe it is your fault.

I try to start a html newsletter myself and had to work out procedures. So I had a look at your source code. I wanted to link within the letter (which you don't) and spawn an new browser window without bars to show more (you have to be online for that) which did not work the known way with javascript (which you don't do either). It turned out that you don't even need javascript to use window.open but this has a bug and won't accept the URL (!), returns an error message. Looking through a lot of code, I finally found a workaround somebody else had developed of found somewhere else, too.

In closing, I want to express that I like reading the letter ever since you featured single authors. Html mail is great in my eyes - there is a huge potential there. In particular, I find the photo of the author extremely valuable. I would prefer if you'd send it along. It is too tedious to connect just to get the photo.

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Subject: Re: [Biz] ePub formats / html mail experience

Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 13:13:30 +0200
From: Werner Stürenburg
To: biz-post@talkbiz.com

pmbiz@dakine.demon.nl (John Gerits) wrote:

I would appreciate hearing opinions from owners of newsletters/lists/ digests; whether you offer a delivered html version, and what the split is with ascii. Or if you considered it, why you do not offer it.

I would also be interested to hear why as subscribers of epubs, why you don't like html versions or why you would.

I do have experience and I will tell it all. Be patient, you can learn a lot and save you troubles.

I offer 5 ezines since July 23rd, one of them daily, the others weekly. All were planned html only as I talk about visual art. I thought size would be a problem, but I never got complaints yet, so I get bolder. I started off with 30 to 50 KB, then kept it to 100, now some are 150, 180, maybe I will send more than 200 next.

Of course, I keep images as small as possible, so when size is big, I deliver many pictures, too. Content is rich, so I guess people appreciate that.

On the downside, I had lots of trouble with people not being able to read html. I elaborated on long help texts to get them going, but it did not pay. People usually want an easy solution, this is the reason I offered html mail in the first place, to send it to their mail box without any hassle.

I thought much about this dilemma, developed text based versions with image attachments, it only resulted in too much trouble, too many occasions to make mistakes and create confusion. So I offer a simple list with the most recent urls of the online version which I upload just before sending the issue. For example:

*** new ***
[MMA 1.6] Who makes it on the net?
http://art-quarter.com/beck/joe/reseller/1/6

[MMA 1.5] Watching success
http://art-quarter.com/beck/joe/reseller/1/5
... etc.
[MMA] Main page
http://art-quarter.com/beck/joe/reseller

This works fine. Everybody is content. They get my notice as a reminder, can connect to the net and read it online.

The ratio between html and text subscribers is extreme. On one I have no text version yet, there are less than 10 with text, but more than 50 with html on the other versions. Those who wish text are not willing to switch to a html mail client. You either provide a second choice for them or loose them. I know some of them, there are prominent professional internet consultants among them. They sure know there are html clients, they know that it's some hassle to change but not too much, but they won't consider it.

Pegasus is one of those who can't read html mail. Internet Mail reads text attributes but no images. I subscribed to Internet Day Newsletter which is html mail and looked what they do. They send a html comment first which explains the situation for non html clients, otherwise you don't see it unless you view the page source.

It turns out that Internet Mail filters this comment. Shit. People are just upset receiving this garbage and don't know why. So I used the Alt tag for images to deliver information for them, for example:

ALT="*** !!!! You got problems with your mail program !!! mailto:jaj-unsubscribe@makelist.com, then mailto:jaj-t-subscribe@makelist.com, if you cannot switch to html mail info: mailto:jaj@art-quarter.com?subject=problems***"

Here you see that I switched from manual handling to FindMail and set up two versions, jaj and jaj-t. I inform people to try the html version if they don't know if they got html mail, then switch to text only if they receive garbage.

There are so many mail clients out there, I see no other solution. Another example: Somebody tells me "mail is fine, thank you. I opened it in my browser, image links were broken." I got no idea why he did this in the first place and what happened then.

On the other hand, I swapped ads with someone having 15,000+ subscribers. They were exited about my ad which really looks fine. Compare that to my text ad with their ezine! See Example MMA 1.6 above.

I really believe in html mail, but it will take time. When I shifted to FindMail, I wasn't sure if they support html. They pretended they did, but it turned out that they in fact did only if you choose non moderated setting which is not appropriate for me. I had to.

I informed them, and they worked on it, but did not inform me, I found out by chance. So I thought I would be happy now. But when I started scrolling in my Netscape client, Netscape crashed.

I knew this from Internet Day Newsletter (IDay). I experienced it several times. I even informed them assuming that Netscape does not care. They don't care either.

When opening html mail, Netscape tries to connect to the net if there is an url pointing somewhere, at least it seems so. I managed opening IDay through first connecting to the net, then starting Netscape. But with the mails coming from FindMail (or makelist.com) this trick did not work.

I had problems with Netscape opening frame pages once, could not help but reinstalling. Next time I had the same problem I cleared the caches and succeeded. I found that I could resolve the problem with IDay through clearing cache, too. But that did not work with the FindMail problem. I told them, maybe they found out in the meantime.

You see, you can run into lots of troubles using html mail. Mailing can be tricky even with text only mail, as we all know. But I think it will not last very long that we all will use html mail. Maybe I'm wrong. It took almost 10 years for 5 1/4" diskettes to give way to 3,5" versions, and I hear of text only terminals crowding the world.

I used AOL first, and I know they can't switch to a third party mail program, and their mail program can't read html mail. They even got problems with image attachments. Of course, they can get themselves a different mail account, but AFAIK they can't redirect their AOL account. Juno is another large group deprived of html. Those people may have the equipment, but they may be proud of their provider and ignorant of their benefits.

Biz works with images and layout. We all know it was the starting point for sales people when the net could handle images and layout. They even invented a new name: www! Also, we know that mail is the best marketing instrument available. But mail is left on the standards of the 60ies, let's face it.

If things went smooth, everybody would have fancy sheets of note-paper like Marc Andreesen when he announces html mail. That's a good promotion delivered automatically to every Netscape user for months, even years now. If the industry sees good reason to propagate html mail, that will be the starting point.

And the industry will catch on once it realizes that you can sell better using html mail. You see it with my ezines. Now that I introduced advertising, it not only looks more professional. Advertising is fun, too. People buy offline magazines and enjoy reading ads, that's what makes the industry tick.

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Subject: Re: [Biz] ePub formats / html mail experience

Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 14:27:30 +0200
From: Werner Stürenburg
To: Paul Myers

Paul Myers wrote:

Excellent material, thanks! Finally someone with hands on experience.

Thank you for your appreciation.

BTW, I can show you how to get Pegasus to do HTML mail if you'd like.

Thanks, I like Netscape better, it is just doing fine, SDI is easier to manage than MDI. I was curious about managing lists, this is awful with Netscape, but FindMail can do even better.

I use Pegasus for testing, I just got troubles with mail.geocities.com and use P. for that. But this is another story. Reminds me of Jim Daniel's Plan B.

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Subject: Re: [Biz] Re: ePub formats

Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 20:49:13 +0200
From: Werner Stürenburg
To: biz-post@talkbiz.com

Oh Nancy,

forgive me! I thought to be funny, I obviously wasn't. Well, I understand you're upset when you get html plain coding. That's really annoying! But why don't you just switch to an up-to-date email client?

We are talking biz here. If someone wants to surf the web with a text only browser, he sure will miss a lot. Those mil and edu and gov types didn't miss a thing back in the old ages, right? It was biz that jumped on layout and images and biz didn't stop there, as we all know.

I intend to market fine art, and I see no way to get my message across with text only mails. Of course, if I want to reach people like you with an inappropriate mail program, I have to offer them a workaround. And I do. That's just a reminder with an url. They hopefully have a full fledged browser to see what I mean, online at least (images turned on). If not - I can't help them.

All marketers I know of, and I guess you will agree, hold that email is marketing instrument no. 1. If so, I wonder why marketers did not push html mail right from the start. If you do offline biz, you create a biz card and a letterhead and a logo and so on. No piece of paper leaves your office without your logo on it.

Why is email so different? Much online stuff is inspired from offline experiences, so if you got a logo and company slogan you probably will put that on every page you own. In fact this is part of what online web design is about.

Now look at the ridiculous attempts to compensate with ASCII "art" according to email netiquette. I see this as outcome of the freak culture, being apart from the biz world. Now here may be a clue, let me provoke a bit: Could it be that real biz would never use email, it being a freaks only medium, them qualifying thereby as small biz owners, one person companies?

Look at the welcome message of Marc Andreesen: Stylish letterhead, fine paper, sound overall impression, lots of convincing arguments, his photograph being attached, biz card, too - I realize that offline biz starts printing photos, too (which is really costly). Now this looks like biz.

BTW, I use text only mail in everyday life. No need to provoke people and make life complicated. I realize that Marc's vision has not convinced the email world.

With html magazine I wanted to show that layout, fonts, all this fancy stuff is part of our everyday life. Nobody would buy an email style magazine.

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Subject: Re: [Biz] Re: Uses for HTML in ePubs

Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998 22:44:30 +0200
From: Werner Stürenburg
To: biz-post@talkbiz.com

Really interesting thread.

I'd like to add 3 comments here.

1) My own experience as html reader
2) My policy as html publisher
3) Special technical issues

ad 1) My reader's experience

I subscribed to many biz newsletters. They try their best to develop their own style (something like _/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_ or *-*-*-*-*-*), but they are not pleasing to read any way you take it. I never saw such a style on the web. I think this is proof that nobody would do it if he could only choose.

I read IDay when it was different from now, lots of links and ads only. Or rather: I skimmed it.

When they introduced the personalized series, I was fascinated. I read all articles from the beginning to end (I don't any more. They keep repeating themselves, and they split articles often, the rest to be read online: too much hassle - most content is not worth to be tracked down so far - which is proof that content is what keeps readers). I even connected to the net to download the picture of the author. I know how they achieve this "feature" to not download it right away, but I ask myself: Is it a bug?.

The picture of the author adds much information not otherwise available. I know how Jim Daniels presents himself to IDay. I see more and more author's or owner's pictures on web sites, I appreciate that, too. When I mentioned it towards an advertiser she wanted to know what I could get from that picture. I tried my best. It turned out I was quite right.

We all judge people by seeing and get a lot from that. It's kind of a survival tool. The reason why they wanted to add pictures to the phone. High paid managers spend hours on the plane to meet people in person. This is extremely important and we all know it. You can't get an article published in IDay if you don't supply a photo of yourself. Think about it.

I *never* pay any attention to their ads.

I wonder why people object to ads in newsletters but not on websites. Look at my site. No ad at all. I don't intend to add ads. No blinking on my web page. No banner shows. No bells and whistles. Not that I could not do it. Was my first lesson. Made a huge site with frames and sound and Javascript and produced problems. Keep It Simple Stupid.

2) Publishing policy

I apply that to my ezines, too. All formatting and images have to serve the purpose, and that is to deliver content for the reader. For example:

I want the text to look pleasant and easy to read. Hence I choose a proportional font in normal size. I do not fix the family of the font (to Arial for example). The user can set her/is favorite font with the browser, so it may look differently on different machines. It even formats differently. I accept it even when I have to use tables and they won't format fine if text runs wider.

I deliver pictures and talk about them. Now the reader has to go back to have a second look. That's why I insert links (anchors) "back to the picture" in a way so that it is seen with 800*600 on Win95 with taskbar whenever you scroll so you don't have to search for it. Or sometimes I insert a footnote like a biography - no problem with a link.

I want the ezine to look good for the same reason everybody wants it: to serve the customer. Hence my ads (self styled) have to look good, too. They have to integrate into the overall style. No blinking. No bright colors. Ads are treated as some other kind of information. And I bet people look very carefully at my own ads. I always feature a different painting or photo or sculpture with some decent comment.

When I styled the first external ad (swapped), I had only a text based version. Impossible to integrate that into my journal! Would be a bad deed for the advertiser. So I jumped to their web site. It was carefully designed, no rude blinking, white background, soft, small images, and I stole from that. Very easy. Now they had an ad referring to their web design, kind of a logo. I liked it.

I even used the links to the image to add links to the ads! Like: back to image | ad Gallery | ad Laugh . Looks fine and decent. I refer to the ads as a service to my readers. Of course, the article is interrupted by the ad. I don't want the ad to intermingle with my article and vice versa. I interrupt like in tv: When it's appropriate. And resume my thread thereafter. I had no complaint so far.

3) Technical issues

I informed my readers about intended mail size, and no one objected. I increased with time, but content increase likewise, so no complaints either. Downloading 90 KB text mail is not quicker than loading 90 KB html mail, therefore I don't understand the complaints about load time. While mail loads I do other things. When I read mail, there is no significant time difference between normal and html mail. I used a 90 MHz Pentium first, now upgraded to 200 MHz, but time to load for reading certainly never was an issue. I'm on Win95 with Netscape Mail 4.04.

There are some specific problems I want to share in case you run into them.

I mentioned the feature of IDay of not loading pictures. I have to supply the pictures right away, doesn't make sense the way IDay does it, referring to web based sources. This was not the problem. Problem was I could not insert links within the page (anchors) like I wanted to. I was puzzled. How did IDay do it? Not at all. They have external links only. No problem here.

Well, I have to confess I compose my pages with AOLPress (have learnt with it and found nothing worth the switch yet). Also, I tried Pegasus but stick to Netscape Mail, to me it is convenient and fine. I did not know how to do send html mail. I looked at their help system, but never found anything sensible there, just awful.

I did not want to compose the whole page within their mail program, I was not accustomed to it (and in fact it has some quirks of its own). I looked at their online site, nothing to find. So I tried several things, nothing worked. Hell, I was getting mad. Then I found a solution. Well, not so, rather a workaround.

I work the page like I would any page of the web. Actually the ezine is uploaded to the web first. My mail program preference is set to text mail, for obvious reasons. So either I have to change preferences to produce new html mail or open an old mail. This is what I did once I had old issues. Address is @makelist.com, so this is ok. Then I change the subject, copying from AOLPress.

Next I open the Netscape html composer. There I open the file I created with AOLPress, Netscape opening another window (I hate programmers! - Well, not - but they are so stupid sometimes ...). Here I Ctrl+a mark all and Ctrl+c copy that and switch to the mail message window, body frame, and Ctrl+a mark all (the old issue) and Ctrl+v paste the new into it. Sigh. Not at all elegant.

What I achieve this way is the following: All internal links (anchors) work normal. Everything is delivered as it should. No problems so far. Remains one little quirk.

To get maximum real estate for a blowup (based on 800*600) I use the window.open function when I want to open another window, turning off all bars. Blowups are large images by default, so I can't afford (or believe my readers would not tolerate) sending them by mail. I send small pictures normally. I can work with clippings to show details, but sometimes it is sensible to see blowups.

I realize this by linking to the web. The reader has to connect, then it loads, opening a new window by default in netscape as the mail is read in the mail program just like any other text based mail. I got a problem as I wanted to turn off the bars which in my knowledge is possible only with the window.open function.

It did not work. Period. Stopped. A bug obviously. window.open works fine with no parameters. It works fine with parameters in online web pages, but not in mails. I tested with MS Internet Mail (which cannot read html mail, only some text formats, but for the test it was sufficient), same result. They have the same bug.

I searched the web for the window.open function and found two workarounds other people had found to this bug. One works with the mouseover function which did not please me as people would not expect to load an online blowup when moving the mouse innocently somewhere.

The other implements a workaround using forms. You set up a form and a hidden field with name, for example, url. You set the value of the field to the url of the page you want to load. Then you call window.open with the value of that field url rather than inserting the value directly including all the options for turning off bars. Funny thing, but it works.

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Subject: LED html mail

Date: Wed, 07 Oct 1998 23:03:23 +0200
From: Werner Stürenburg
To: digest@le-digest.com

I send about 1000 mails a month - plain text. I send 8 mails a month html via eGroups - my journals. These are full web pages with images included. If my subscribers can't read them (poor AOL users etc - used to be one myself), they can switch, I send them an URL instead to read the same thing online.

I pay for local phone in Germany, about US$ 3 per hour. That sums up fast, so I would hate to read my journal online. That's why I send them via email. To me it makes no sense excluding the images. I read InternetDay and wonder why they do that?

I wondered which sizes people would accept, images build up fast. I started with 50 KB, asked anxiously for feedback / objections and learnt not to worry about size. I send now from 100 - 200 KB. Here's a feedback:

Amazing work... I'm really impressed. Long files are a pain in the wallet for us who pay by the minute for local calls (I'm in Korea) but yours are worth it. Your comments are interesting reading ...

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Subject: Re: [eZines Db]: need help :)

Date: Sat, 07 Nov 1998 12:21:30 +0100
From: Werner Stürenburg
To: "zine-talk@dominis.com"

I call my zines "journals", because they don't fit into any scheme I saw so far (see http://art-quarter.com/journals.html).

The latest issues this week: Weekly Work 1.41 - Art And Anecdotes Go Ahead, John - Win A Painting http://art-quarter.com/beck/joe/dd/1/41

Art Journal 1.9 - A Close Look At Great Art Chagall's Cattle Dealer - Study On The Main Theme http://art-quarter.com/beck/joe/aj/1/9

They are published on a regular basis (weekly and monthly), they are written by myself, they are sent via email to subscribers, they are published online in addition to have an archive, but they are different from any ezine I know.

First, they are html mail. This is not unusual these days, but all html ezines I know and subscribe to fall in 2 categories.

1) No images

2) Images are not delivered.

My opinion: 1) May be an improvement as layout can make for better reading. Of course, people have to learn about that, but ultimately the market will shift into this direction.

Nobody would care for a print medium (either paid or free) if it would stick to standards shown by most newsletters and ezines. As the latter begin to abound, people will shift to those with better style.

As nobody can read more than a few hundred publications, competition and evolution will transform the culture we have today very soon, killing all those text only productions.

2) Is an improvement over 1). Printmedia without pictures are very rare and only driven by lack of funding. Hence inclusion of images is the logical next step. Production costs are next to zero. But not delivering images is counterproductive, IMHO.

There may be users like AOL freaks who cannot download images properly. So what. The others are extremely upset about time lag when opening this kind of mail.

I could not understand this at first. I have to pay for online time here in Germany, therefore I am offline when reading mail. Hence this mail shows broken image links all over.

American readers seem to be online all the time, so the mail program starts reading the images off the net the very moment they open them which accounts for the time lag which upsets readers. I have heard many of them say that they generally trash html mail without opening (!!!).

In America, it makes no difference if you are online or not, so people may "read" my mail zine by receiving a text only URL and click on that for online reading. But nevertheless, this seems to make a difference as most of my subscribers (>90%) prefer the html mail version. I guess it's the difference between walking to the newspaper stand to purchase your copy or getting it to your street address as subscriber.

As you may guess by now, I deliver full fledged web pages. There is no difference between web archive and mail issue. I'd like to incorporate more features of professional layout, but Netscape does not support the columns tag yet, and creating columns via tables is difficult and clumsy, so I didn't take the pain yet.

Of course, like with web pages, you can't transfer offline techniques to online design in a 1-1 fashion. For example: People discuss lengthy pages versus many small with hyperlinks. The latter won't fit easily with mail. You can't deliver many small mails and link to them, AFAIK. But you can link within your mail (if done right) via anchors. I insert a small text navigation bar about every screen with an index to give orientation and ease navigation.

I was curious how big my mail could grow. I warn people when subscribing that images build up very fast. I started with 50 KB, now am well over 150, even topped 250. People didn't complain, on the contrary, I have testimonials of appreciation because of good content.

As I write about art, I can't make my point without images. But I make sure, that I respect my customers. I inserted ads for programs I am affiliated with, for example Corey Rudl's or Jim Daniels'. I dropped it. First I used text ads only, then inserted images to improve performance (which was zero), finally guessed that my readers are not interested in that kind of stuff at all and at best annoyed about the ads. Now I advertise my own merchandise which is art. So they get more of what they want anyway.

I'd like to know your opinion on my view to the future. The internet has grown to the web. Will the email biz culture grow up to some kind of print media like culture, too? And what is the best name for this kind of email magazines which are not yet existent? Is my choice of "Journal" a good one?

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Subject: E-Marketing Digest: Reply to Jan

Date: Sat, 30 Nov 1998 17:21:30 +0100
From: Werner Stürenburg
To: emd-post@gapent.com

I am dismayed at Jan Crowell's reaction to html mailing. Frankly, I don't understand it. Most people outside the US pay for online time, but she does not, so why bother about download time? When I'm downloading, I work on other things, so if it were not for the money it costs me (only tiny amounts, really - yes, it adds up, but doing business, it really is peanuts), I wouldn't bother at all.

What annoys me when I receive html mail is: Those people don't need html at all, and what's more, they spoil their message. If they choose a background color, it is an ugly one, if they choose a proportional font, I can't read as easily as with my fixed space default font. Sometimes I hit the reply button to be able to read the content with ease, as my mail client defaults to normal font in this case. I hope that I made perfectly clear by now that I *don't* advocate using html for normal mail. In my opinion, most newsletters should stay text only non html *forever*.

This said, I'd like to add: They will be extinct very soon much like text only web pages. This thread was started by someone selling voyages, if I'm right. Now did you ever see a print brochure in this kind of business without pictures? Would you bet click through rates of banners selling voyages with text only are significantly smaller than those with pictures?

If I had to sell skiing in the Alps or bathing in the Bahamas, I'd like to show people what I can't say with letters. People buy benefits, not features, as we all know. With letters, you rather transmit features, with images you show benefits. And if you can't show anything at all, you show someone smiling all over the face suggesting this person enjoys all the benefits your product or service has to offer.

This is why I think text only mail will be enriched by pictures and layout, which is what *I* mean with html mail. The only publications I know using this approach are my own. All other zines are sending code without images, and if they incorporate some, the images rest on their server to be downloaded the moment the reader opens the mail. Now this is really silly in my opinion. The readers want to read in this very moment, and now comes dead time making them furious (in the US, being online). Simple as that.

Well, now I understand Jan. This must be the reason. May I add: The images downloaded at inappropriate time are unwanted advertisements in addition. I don't even have a look at them. Reading offline, all I see is broken image links all over. Sometimes my ISP connection pops up, and all I do is hit the Esc button. Obviously, these advertising dollars are wasted in my case. When I go online (and I sometimes do with InternetDay), it is to see the picture of the author - information I can't get with words.

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Subject: Re: HTML Newsletters

Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 02:59:57 +0100
From: Werner Stürenburg
To: newpost@mmgco.com

First fact to consider: some people just hate HTML mail, even your friends. Next: expect only about 30 percent of your current subscribers to switch to the enhanced version. Third: about 80 percent of new subscribers will choose the HTML version. These are not my numbers, read http://www.netb2b.com/cgi-bin/cgi_wpi_archive and http://www.netb2b.com/cgi-bin/cgi_wpi_archive/98/12/01/article.2

Http://art-quarter.com/html-mail.html  (this file) may answer some of your questions; I archived my thoughts and experiences because I was tired of fruitless discussions.

For all you marketing experts out there, I'd like to pose a question. Just about everybody contends that email and newsletters are the most powerful marketing instruments. Likewise, I guess everybody will agree that those old days of text only Internet culture were extremely unfriendly to commerce. The web induced the revolution we all witnessed by introducing pictures and layout. Once these elements were in place, people were convinced that the Internet could sell.

Now why are most of the notable marketers I know of extremely disapproving HTML mail? The only objective reason I know of, the time lag in opening HTML mail, poses in itself another question: why don't the publishers send all the pictures with the text to prevent this time lag? Why are they so stupid to upset their readers? The only acknowledgement of the power of HTML mail I found so far is in the article mentioned above.

By the way: I subscribed to quite a number of HTML newsletters. None of them comes even close to the culture of publishing we enjoy offline. Obviously, Web design has learned a lot from offline experiences. After all, aesthetical criteria aren't that different in different media. HTML publishing certainly has a long way to go. As text only newsletters come by the thousands these days, more and more will switch to HTML to stand out from the crowd. They will only have a short lived advantage, if they don't invest in real publishing culture.

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Subject: Re: HTML Email or Text/Sample

Date: Wed, 03 Feb 1999 20:59:38 +0100
From: Werner Stürenburg
To: newpost@mmgco.com

I agree in most parts with Steve. His example is what I had in mind, although it seems to be rather a follow-up letter than a newsletter. Contrary to him, I believe that most readers either already have HTML enabled mail clients or could get them very easily. His reference to the development of browsers by Netscape is right to the point.

Remember, Eudora or Pegasus or AOL are serving customers in the first place, too, and if their customers demand easy to use HTML clients and threaten to switch products, they will hurry to produce them. The problem I see is that there are very few HTML newsletters worth the HTML coding. Steve's example was a good one this respect.

I publish five HTML newsletters since June last year. One of them enjoyed nearly 50 editions, the other four 10 each, therefore I have some experience with nearly 90 editions in total. My HTML to text ratio is similar to that of Dana, i.e. less than 8% prefer the text version, one newsletter doesn't even have a text version because of no demand. I write on art, so images are a must. Some other examples of a useful implementation of html newsletters:

In December, I started a monthly HTML newsletter for a German carriage manufacturer both in English and German (English online edition at http://www.kuehnle.de/ezine). No demand for a text version so far.

This newsletter is meant as an entertaining periodical for lovers of horse driven carriages, kind of a customer Magazine. We do offer products, mainly used carriages, but not aggressively. This newsletter should build and serve the customer relation in the first place. Entertaining, informative, non offending, just fun.

Companies both big and small have printed magazines for customer relation. A famous example is the Porsche Magazine. Many years ago, I bought a used 928. The first time I visited a Porsche shop, they added my address to their subscription base. It is almost 10 years that I sold this car, and although I never drove a Porsche since, I still get their Magazine. Why not copy this strategy online (at only a fraction of the cost)?

With my latest project, I try to push things one step further. I started a new web site which ought to become a German horse portal. It is called http://pferdezeitung.com (Pferdezeitung = horse magazine), and the Magazine is used as a means to generate traffic for the site.

To this end, the Magazine will be ad free, entertaining and informing only instead. Every other week, we will publish a horse breed portray and a personality story about someone living with this breed, two breeds and stories per month.

With over 300 breeds to date, we could go on for over 10 years with this concept. The horse world is full of interesting stories. Like in any Magazine, these stories will be presented with fine layout and pictures to get the most out of it. You can't do this with text only newsletters. No emotional appeal. No fun to read. Only marketers or other professionals would enjoy reading plain text, not the average consumer.

The additional information may lead to products people need on the web site. We will highlight the most interesting offers for horses or other classifieds like saddles, trailers etc. We will provide links to pages on our site where we offer information around all kinds of products. We try to provide easy ordering right on the spot, even if the producer has his own site. So it will be more than a portal, rather a kind of shopping guide.

For example, Volkswagen tries to position the Caravelle model in the horse market for pulling trailers. This car isn't fashionable at all, which Mercedes-Benz had to learn is a mistake. Their model G never made it and was outperformed by Japanese fashionable off roaders. Finally they developed model M. We could help Volkswagen pass their arguments and sizzles to their target group.

I don't expect problems with HTML mail in this country, because Pegasus and Eudora are not common here (AOL is, of course), but we seem to have other problems. People are not used to the concept of newsletter as such, unfortunately. Even the word "Abonnement" (= subscription) associates payment, whereas the newsletter is, of course, free.

Another problem not mentioned in the discussion so far: we already have subscribers who cannot read HTML mail, but cannot visit web sites either, because they sit at a terminal hooked to a mainframe at work with Internet access for only a few PCs. Right now, we produce a text only version for those, but I doubt that we will take the pain for long. You can't please everybody at reasonable cost.

With images, sizes may be considered a problem. I sent html mail up to 300KB with no complaint. Today, I got notice of a service which will send you any exe or zip file via email instead of regular downloading. 300KB is tiny for this kind of files, right? Does anybody object downloading the latest browser at 15000KB?

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Subject: email list managing program

Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 19:59:00 +0100
From: Werner Stürenburg
To: bburns@public3.bta.net.cn

I managed the lists with Netscape, but it was tedious. I know some people use Pegasus and some Eudora, and they get along with it. I didn't want to manage them myself either way after a while.

My host offers a list server for up to 1000 subscribers, and I am far from that, but I choose to use eGroups. No hassle with subscribers. Everything fine. Highly recommended.

OneList is close, but eGroups is better. Listbot is not good enough, the others don' even count. Paid services did not meet my demand (i.e. no html support).

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© 1998,1999 · Werner Stürenburg · Germany  ;· Hauptstr. 13 · 32609 Hüllhorst · Tel. 0(049)-5744-511-574 · Fax -575

Read my Blog · See also my personal site

Galleries | Artists | Journals | About | Mission | Site Map

© 1998,1999 · Werner Stürenburg · Germany  ;· Hauptstr. 13 · 32609 Hüllhorst · Tel. 0(049)-5744-511-574 · Fax -575

Read my Blog · See also my personal site