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Email communications sent out by any office or initiative in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) must adhere to the following requirements. The best practices are optional, but will result in stronger and more effective email communications.

Requirements

Follow Section 508 Guidelines for Images

Follow the rules on these pages:

Use Images Strategically

The template is designed to resize based on your screen size. However, this will only function properly if you code your image in one of two ways:

Use fixed-width images less than 350px wide

If you code an image with a fixed width, only use very small images—less than 350px wide.

  • This is how images are added into GovDelivery with the WYSIWYG tool.
  • The image will not resize, but it will be small enough to display properly on small screens.
  • These images will appear very small on desktop computers.
  • However, they will display well on smaller screens.

This approach is easy for users with little experience with HTML.

Use 100%-width images less than 700px wide

If you code an image with a style of width:100%, you can use larger images.

  • You will need to know how to edit HTML code to use this approach.
  • The image will resize based on the size of the screen.
  • For many email clients, this will make the image span the entire width of the email. Test your email before you send it out; make sure it isn't "stretched out." (If it does, use another image or code it as a fixed-width 350px-wide image instead.)
  • Avoid images with text. Because the image will scale down on smaller screens, it may not be readable on mobile devices.

This approach should only be used by individuals comfortable with HTML.

Here's an example of HTML image code with 100% width:

<img src='#' alt='ALT-TEXT' style='display:block;width:100%;'>

Best Practices

The following recommendations are suggested, not required.

Include Preheader Text

The standard template includes an optional preheader section. This is located at the top of the email.

Preheader text appears when users have their mail systems set up to see preview text. This lets these the first sentence of text in the email without opening it. The "preheader text" sentence is what these users will see. Preheader text gives you another way to encourage users to open your email.

To add preheader text, replace "Preheader text to show a short summary" in the standard EERE template with a one-sentence summary of the email's content.

If you don't want to add preheader text, delete this section before sending your email.

Link the "View in Browser" Link

The "View in Browser" link is an optional link at the top of the EERE template. When you create a new email, this text will not be linked anywhere.

This link should point to a web page where a user can read the content of the email. This means you can link to:

  • An Energy.gov web page that has the same content as the email. To change a link in GovDelivery: 
    1. Select the "View in Browser" text.
    2. Click the "Insert/Edit Link" button.
    3. Change the current URL (it will read "#") to the page you want to link to.
  • GovDelivery's HTML copy of your email. GovDelivery creates HTML copies of every email you send out. To link to it:
    1. Select the "View in Browser" text.
    2. Click the "Insert/Edit Link" button.
    3. Copy this into the "URL" field: [[VIEW_THIS_URL]]

Note that this link will not work until the email has been sent out.

The "View in Browser" link exists so a user can read the content of the email in a different location; don't link to a page if it doesn't have the email text on it.

 If you don't want to use the "View in Browser" link, delete this section before sending your email.

Design Your Emails for Mobile Devices

Many users read their emails on mobile devices. Although EERE's standard template resizes based on screen size, overly complex designs can reduce its effectiveness. Follow these tips to design an email that will resize well on smaller screens:

  • Follow the image guidelines.
  • Use simple designs. One-column designs look best.
  • Keep the content short.
  • Limit the number of images you use and keep them small.
  • Do not send emails where the only content is an image, or where the most important content is only located in an image. Remember: users may have vison problems, use screen readers, or may simply turn off images in emails.

Use Engaging Email Headers

The headers of an electronic newsletter (e.g., From, To, and Subject fields) are scrutinized by anti-spam filters that protect ISPs and individual mailboxes. Your subscribers also scan headers to determine if they want to read the email or not.

Ensure that your subject line is accurate and compelling. Industry research suggests that subject lines 45–55 characters in length are best.