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The Good Bad And Downright Ugly Of Flash Email

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Tom Granger

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User since: 22 Jun 2001

Articles written: 2

Lately there has been a great deal of interest in adding Flash to

your everyday run-of-the-mill email so you can send it to your clients, prospects

or newsletter subscribers. Marketing has descended from upon high and declared

it, the small business client wants it, or an executive in management has read

about it.

Well, why not?

The fact of the matter is that email HTML

browsers are just not equal to their web browser equivalents.

This is further made complex by the wide variety of settings,

preferences, security updates, versions, and third-party

applications which make the user experience hard to predict.

This is an interesting problem to contend

with when creating, designing and marketing your HTML

email. Most likely you are about to hate what I am about

to say, however, please do not shoot the messenger.

You should never use Flash or any other rich media piece in your

HTML email unless you absolutely know that the email client your recipient uses

can handle Flash

. Further, you should only send Flash/rich media content to someone

who has requested it, or you have an agreed upon marketing relationship. The

first time that I had to wait almost an hour to download what turned out to

be a Flash email, I was on a hotel dial up account. That one Flash email cost

nearly $10.00 and an hour of my time.

Not exactly the relationship you want to

enter into with your customers or clients.

So if you absolutely have to send Flash

content via email, here are a few tips you should remember.

Do not try to control your Flash with active scripting

Due to the wide variety of email clients, browsers, security settings,

updates, and service packs installed, it is difficult to predict how a script

will execute against any given email client. JavaScripts can cause browsers

& Outlook 2000 to disable

any active scripting
contained in an email document (there has been an increase

in email security due to malicious scripts).

You're better off attaching or sending a link

The majority of web-based email clients (Hotmail, Yahoo!, etc.)

will strip out your Flash content. It

is not uncommon to send embedded Flash content only to have the recipient open

it in their web-based client and see

absolutely nothing.

You also cannot rely on a <NOEMBED>

to provide an alternate link for the content. You will

need to include a text link before or after your Flash

content for all Web-based recipients and those whose systems,

ISP, network security, or other variables interfere with

their viewing of Flash content.

By sending your Flash content as an attachment or a link, you

can work around some of these limitations imposed by making the Flash content

render in the browser rather in your email. That way, if your recipient has

the plugin, they can view the Flash file.

Make sure your files do not immediately start playing

Control your content with an onClick, or

other event. Just a nice "Click here for an important

message." is all you need. Allow the viewer to start

the presentation when they are ready. A Flash or Shockwave

piece, which begins streaming if viewed in an Outlook

preview window, will start a second time when the email

is opened. This will usually cause quite a mess with the

recipient's sound system, not to mention distort your

intended message.

Nothing will get your Flash email deleted

quicker than if it causes unexpected sounds to suddenly

come pouring loudly from the recipient's computer during

the workday.

These are just a few things you should watch

out for if you plan to design, send and expect responses

to your Flash emails.

Flash & other rich media may all be

year 2001 — "bleeding edge" for the world of

web browsers. Unfortunately your average HTML email browser

seems stuck at about early 1998.

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