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Placing FORMs in HTML Email

Ever wanted to code a signup form, event RSVP, or survey into an HTML email? You might have decided to just 'play it safe' and simply link to an online form, but there are some tricks to actually making them work in emails. Here are some really basic guidelines for coding FORMs into HTML emails.

As always, test test test your campaigns before sending.

  • The "GET" method works better than "POST"
  • When coding your FORM "action," don't use URLs that are too long. You don't want them so long that they wrap in the email design, which sometimes breaks the link.
  • Don't use any JavaScript submit buttons, since JavaScript is disabled by most email applications as an anti-virus measure
  • Avoid submit buttons that are images. Email applications block images by default, plus we seemed to have problems with image submit buttons in the past
  • Just use plain old-fashioned FORM submit buttons. You know, the non-fancy, gray, beveled edge kind. They work, and people respond to them better anyway.
  • Some have found that submitting to secure forms can cause problems
  • Don't forget to post a version of your form online, so you can link to it from your plain-text alternative messages (for those that can't read HTML email)
  • If you include a FORM or survey in your HTML email, keep it short. Don't make your recipients take the SAT here. Try keeping it under 10 questions or so.

If you're looking to send surveys via HTML email, but you can't program your own, we've always recommended (no relation to MailChimp). You can easily build a survey using your web browser, customize the fonts and colors to match your site, then post it online. SurveyMonkey even generates the links that you can place in your emails.

August 1, 2005 in Tips, Tricks, Best Practices | Permalink


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Something I've noticed : putting a text field in an HTML email is asking for trouble. In at least Outlook 2000 and Outlook 2003, when filling the form right from the preview pane, pressing the Del key to correct a typo will DELETE the message, and not remove the character at the right of the cursor as expected. Of course, the recipient can recover the message, but all the data that has been entered is lost... Needless to say that your recipient will be thrilled to go through the form once again.

No, keep the forms out of the emails, please.

Posted by: Nicolas Lehuen | Feb 21, 2006 12:13:47 PM

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