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What Email Marketers Need To Know About Using Outlook Tools

Even though email is one of the earliest digital communication channels, it is still extremely popular with marketers despite the emergence of many other web-based communication methods. It is not surprising because it delivers a far superior ROI. According to Forbes, email marketing allows better customization of messages than any other media.

However, one common problem faced by digital marketing services provider is while email messages open beautifully on all webmail platforms on Android or iOS, the messages don’t display properly on Outlook. The problem usually arises because MS Outlook does not follow code conventions that work well with other email clients. Some of the most common issues email marketers face with MS Outlook:

The Background Images in the Email Message Do Not Display

No Outlook user will see the background images in a mail message applied with traditional HTML. To avoid this, email marketers can make the repeating background image monochromatic and use a color in the background as a failsafe. They can also force the background image to display in Outlook by using Vector Markup Language (VML).

All Hyperlinks are Automatically Colored Blue

Any link to a website displayed in an Outlook message displays automatically in blue, and if the user has clicked on the link, the color changes to purple. The blue or purple color can interfere with the design of the email, and users can find them hard to discern. Marketers can resolve the issue by defining the color of the link in-line.

Incorrect Display of Images

Even though you cannot control the blocking of email messages by users, you can ensure that the images in the email are effective even if Outlook does not display the images. You can do it by compulsorily using alt text in all images because it renders even if the messages don’t and allows users to understand what the images are about.

If you construct the alt text well, you can describe the image accurately and encourage clicks by including a compelling CTA.

When used effectively, marketers can use alt text to influence recipients to permit the display of images.

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Additionally, you should use high-resolution images so that users using retina displays do not see grainy images.

Displays Wrong Fonts

Many email marketers forget that Outlook can only display fonts used in the email messages installed on the recipient’s computer. If they use fancy or non-standard fonts, they may find the recipients unable to read the email. The best policy is to use universal fonts like Times, Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, etc. However, if your email design calls for some other font to increase its impact, you should designate a fallback font that will display the email well enough for the message to go through.

Lines Not Displaying Correctly

Links will only display correctly in MS Outlook if marketers use the full website address, including the HTTP:// or HTTPS://. Users should not interpret this as a sign of corruption and attempt to repair Outlook.

Animated Gifs Do Not Function 

Email marketers will do well not to include animated GIFS to boost the engagement levels of their emails because these do not work at all in MS Outlook. Unfortunately, since there is no way of working around this problem, they should avoid using animated GIFs in email campaigns, especially when the recipients are likely to be using Outlook as an email client.

Incorrect Rendering of CSS

The correct rendering of CSS is an issue with many email clients, including MS Outlook. However, email marketers can resolve this issue easily with an in-line styling of the HTML elements.

Rounded Buttons Display as Square

While email marketers commonly use rounded buttons on their display buttons to elevate the aesthetics of their emails, however, MS Outlook does not recognize the border-radius property and converts all the round buttons to square ones. Unfortunately, there is no workaround for this issue as of now.


The 1,800-Pixel Break Bug

Since Outlook uses MS Word as an HTML rendering engine, emails longer than 1800 pixels are truncated abruptly. Outlook treats long emails as multi-page MS Word documents and attempts to add a page break where there should be none. You should limit the length of the email to 1800 pixels to avoid this display issue in Outlook.

Disturbed Email Layout

Recipients using MS Outlook will find their email layouts out of tilt if the email has been created with divs with typical CSS properties like position and float. It happens because Outlook does not recognize these CSS properties. Marketers should use tables to compose the email layout to avoid this problem.


As is evident, there are numerous issues with displaying email properly on MS Outlook. Since it is among the most popular email clients in use worldwide, there is no way email marketers can avoid the situation. Luckily solutions exist for almost all the bugs reported in Outlook and email marketers will make their campaigns more effective by recognizing and working around these known issues.

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