Fallbacks for Interactive Electronic mail: The right way to Fight Restricted Assist for Interactivity


For the third yr in a row, interactive e-mail experiences had been voted one of many hottest e-mail design developments. So why don’t we see extra interactive emails in our inboxes? For a lot of manufacturers, restricted inbox supplier assist is the principle cause they don’t ship extra interactive campaigns.

You don’t must worry restricted assist when you’ve got a fallback in place. There are many strategies that allow you to create partaking, interactive emails the place they’re supported, whereas nonetheless guaranteeing a practical and exquisite expertise in all different inboxes.

Why Fallbacks Matter

Assist for HTML and CSS varies throughout e-mail shoppers, and most of the HTML and CSS components that you just may use to energy interactivity in e-mail won’t be supported in all places.

In the event you don’t account for circumstances the place it’s not supported, your e-mail can look damaged. Let’s take a look at this instance of a gorgeous interactive picture carousel:

Interactive e-mail from Offset by Shutterstock that includes a picture carousel.
See it in CodePen.

The interactive carousel with its highly effective imagery seems to be nice in Apple Mail, permitting subscribers to flip by means of the photographs utilizing the arrows or checkboxes. However right here’s how that exact same e-mail renders in Yahoo! Mail if there’s no fallback in place:

Without fallbacks in place, this email appears blank
Interactive e-mail with no fallbacks in place

With out fallbacks, the e-mail seems damaged and certain gained’t see a number of clicks. We don’t need that to occur! So let’s take a look at how we are able to make interactive emails work in all places with bulletproof fallbacks.

Utilizing the ability of the disguise and present framework

The disguise and present framework is essentially the most primary and customary tactic to arrange interactivity and fallbacks in e-mail. Whereas easy, it’s nonetheless very highly effective.

The framework does precisely what its identify suggests: It hides the interactivity for shoppers that don’t assist it and reveals a fallback as an alternative.

You arrange two fully separate sections in your HTML—one on your interactive content material, and one on your static fallback. That method, you can’t solely specify these two various kinds of content material, but additionally arrange totally different hyperlinks and totally different monitoring for every model of your e-mail, making it potential to trace and evaluate interactive vs. the static variations. Consider it as an A/B check inside one e-mail.

Let’s take a look at the way you make this occur inside your e-mail code with this simplified instance (or take a look at the CodePen):


<!--[if (!mso)&(gte IE 10)]> <! -- -->

id="interactive" model="show:none; max-height:zero; line-height:zero; font-size:zero; mso-hide:all;">
class="content material"> That is the place the Interactive Content material goes.
</div> <!--<![endif]--> <!-- finish INTERACTIVE_SECTION -->   <!-- begin FALLBACK_SECTION -->
id="staticfallback"> That is the place the Fallback Content material goes.
<!-- finish FALLBACK_SECTION -->

The interactive part makes use of conditional statements to cover content material from e-mail shoppers that don’t assist interactivity. This contains MSO conditional statements that may disguise every little thing in between them from variations of Outlook that don’t assist interactivity, in addition to inline CSS that visually hides content material for different non-interactive e-mail shoppers (that’s the code in inexperienced). Then the code highlighted in darkish crimson pulls in kinds that override the code for the interactive part whereas forcing the fallback part to cover as an alternative.

We needed to name out “visually” as a result of the content material nonetheless hundreds, even when it isn’t seen. That is necessary to notice as a result of the entire photographs and different recordsdata you may pull in on the interactive part will affect the loading time for the fallback structure. As a workaround, strive leveraging the identical photographs as a lot as potential for each layouts.

For the content material, you may populate the fallback part with any typical e-mail code or just wrap these <div>s round any present static e-mail code you may need. For the interactive part, be at liberty to mess around with any type of CSS-only methods you’re involved in implementing. Trying to find CSS-only carousels, hotspots, quizzes, scrolling results, and so forth. can yield some nice inspiration!

Using externally-linked stylesheets

In the meantime, the CSS referenced in the dead of night crimson code is hosted in an externally-linked CSS file that comprises code like this:




#interactive .content material 

The #interactive and #staticfallback kinds all have !necessary; guidelines to permit them to override the inline CSS in your HTML. These are the important thing model declarations that disguise and present your layouts. The #interactive .content material  declaration represents the code you’d use to truly model your interactive content material, although interactive layouts would often require greater than this instance to work. For instance, for those who needed to model a CTA that solely seems within the interactive structure, you’ll create a brand new declaration like #interactive .cta (or .interactive-cta, so long as the selector is exclusive to the interactive part) and add your kinds to the CSS file.

You then would add a hyperlink tag to your HTML referencing this exterior stylesheet on the very backside of your <head> tag, like on this simplified instance.


<model kind="textual content/css">

/* Boilerplate Kinds */

/* Responsive Media Question Kinds */

/* Progressive Enhancement Kinds */


<!-- Exterior CSS for Interactive Model -->

<hyperlink rel="stylesheet" kind="textual content/css" href="http://your-url.com/hideshow.css">


Mastering CSS specificity

As you may inform, there’s a number of CSS specificity trickery concerned. CSS itself stands for “Cascading Type Sheets”, which refers back to the order that your CSS cascades in in terms of specificity. And specificity determines which rule is the one which wins out. Due to this fact, the position of the <hyperlink> tag after your whole embedded CSS is essential for permitting all of the kinds within the exterior CSS file to override the kinds that got here earlier than it.

So why an externally-linked CSS file, as an alternative of embedded or inline CSS? As a result of if an e-mail consumer helps this function, then it most probably helps all of the kinds contained throughout the exterior CSS file. Conserving your interactive CSS separated on this method implies that you cut back the chance of your interactive kinds conflicting together with your non-interactive code, so that you don’t find yourself with unintended outcomes.

The icing on the cake: Optimize for restricted interactive assist with progressive enhancements

When you’ve arrange your two important variations—the interactive one and the static fallback—you may go forward and improve your static fallback model with some primary interactive components. Right here’s the static model of the e-mail above, made extra partaking utilizing hover results for the brand and the CTA:

Interactive Email Image Carousel
Progressively enhanced fallback using hover results from Offset by Shutterstock. See it in Litmus Builder.

You possibly can discover ways to create these easy however highly effective hover results right here.


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