Outlook is one of the most popular email clients. By extension, it’s one of the most popular ways to send emails. However, if you want to go beyond a very basic text message to include images or use content multiple times, it can get challenging, if not downright frustrating. This post aims to explain how it doesn’t have to be that way – especially when you use the Stensul Email and Landing Page Creation Platform™.
Several sources cite Outlook as having 400 million active users worldwide. While that’s less than a third of total Gmail users, it is the email method of choice in most businesses, especially among enterprise-level organizations. Reasons include its tight integration with other Microsoft productivity applications and security.
An OFT: what it is, what it does
OFT is an acronym. It stands for Outlook File Template. It lets you send emails from an Outlook account that display more than basic text.
An OFT file typically contains an email with a pre-formatted layout for creating custom messages with a similar appearance. It lets you save message content and designs in a reusable format – the template. This capability is advantageous in a business context. One example is a salesperson sending customized emails to clients with a similar layout but slightly different copy.
Start in Stensul
The easiest way to make sure an email sent by an Outlook account that contains images or assorted sets of copy or will be used multiple times – is to create it in Stensul.
The guardrails you can program into Stensul empower thousands to create their emails – sent via their Outlook accounts – in the platform. You can do so knowing all emails created in Stensul will always be on brand and fully compliant with regulatory requirements.
Besides being the easiest way to create an email sent via an Outlook account, it’s the preferred way to make this email type. It is the best of four approaches to create an HTML email sent via Outlook. This method has the lowest chance of error in creation, sending, or open/display issues.
|OFT file creation||Create email in Stensul, then download Outlook File Template (OFT) for Windows machines.||Yes
|View in a browser from Stensul, select all, copy, paste directly into Outlook, and send to recipients.||Yes|
|Insert as text
(for Windows PCs)
|Download HTML from Stensul, insert HTML as text into Outlook, and send to recipients.||Yes|
|Forward from inbox||Send a preview from Stensul to your inbox, and forward the email to recipients.||No
High error potential
Best practices for OFT-based email design
Whichever method you choose to create an email sent from an Outlook account, there are several things to keep in mind when designing it. Knowing what you can and can’t do with an OFT file will do more than save time. Lots of things – from deliverability and accessibility to opens and click-throughs – can be better
While we often hear about a mobile-first approach to email design, recipients opening emails with OFTs on their phones or other mobile devices will see the same email as desktop viewers. You need to design in a way that takes that “limitation” into account.
One way is to design the email in a single-column format. If you must use two columns, they have to be fixed. Since these emails aren’t responsive, there’s no stacking. Stensul supports both single and fixed double-column arrangements.
The right images
Images that conform to your guardrails – in terms of size and type – can be used in an OFT-type email created in Stensul. However, background images and background images with live text are not supported. Only the text and background image is preserved.
Image links that a user adds from their own Outlook account have to be re-linked. The same holds for user-added text links. Text links must be re-linked and are underlined once in Outlook. Also, know that the color of the link is not maintained and needs to be re-linked.
Rounded CTA buttons are not supported. They default to squared corners. If you require rounded CTA buttons, use CSS to add them back. The CTA button needs to be re-linked once you create the email. The link is underlined once in Outlook.
Links by default
Stensul supports text and image links set by default. For example, pre-set default links to your social media accounts in the email’s footer are preserved. All such text links get underlined, even in CTAs, in Outlook. Again, the color of the link is not maintained and needs to be re-linked.
The Stensul-Outlook integration works
A global financial services company has thousands of financial advisors, each wanting to convey opportunities to enhance their clients’ wealth, often on a spur-of-the-moment basis.
Before taking advantage of the Stensul-Outlook OFT integration, there were a host of email problems encountered at every step of the process, from creating emails to sending them from Outlook accounts to what the emails looked like when clients or prospects opened them.
By implementing Stensul, all those issues went away. If financial advisors could drag and drop, they could create an email in Stensul well-suited for an OFT. While email creation was decentralized, administrative controls – like setting guardrails and permissions – were centralized, ensuring consistency and quality.