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HTML Emails

How to book and send HTML emails

External Relations and the Web Team have worked in collaboration to develop Birkbeck’s capability to send HTML emails. HTML emails, unlike plain text emails, can be designed to include pictures and live links and are sent through a third party supplier called Campaign Monitor, who also supply detailed reports on who opened the emails and what links were clicked on, enabling Birkbeck to fully evaluate the success of each campaign

The advantages of HTML emails are that they are:

  • enable highly targeted campaigns that are more timely and relevant to individuals and therefore more effective
  • make it easy for you to evaluate their effectiveness and therefore inform the development of future campaigns
  • are more professional in their look and feel, compared with plain text emails and attachments
  • are cheap to design and send, unlike printed and posted communications
  • are environmentally friendly

All HTML emails must be ordered through the External Relations Marketing Team who will then liaise with you and the Web Team to produce and send the email.

This booking system has been set-up for a number of reasons:

To avoid confusion and ensure schools need only deal with one point of contact.
By having one point of contact we can deliver a better service to colleagues wanting to send HTML emails, avoiding confusion regarding who to contact and how the process works.

To manage the work flow of the Web Team so that all emails can be produced and sent on schedule and are viewable across the widest range of email clients.
This is an extraordinarily complex and tricky thing to accomplish, as webmail systems in particular can wreak havoc with "standard" HTML. Everything has to be designed using inline styles and tested across a variety of clients and platforms to ensure optimum performance and to make sure that on clients that won't display things as intended, they degrade gracefully and are still intelligible.

To ensure that all the emails contain the correct use of the Birkbeck reputation guidelines.
Sending HTML emails out in bulk is regarded by some people as spamming, so this has to be handled very carefully. By using well-designed templates that are consistent with Birkbeck's other advertising streams, and following very stringent rules about email addresses that we have prior permission to use, we hope to reduce the number of recipients who will report the email as spam or who will unsubscribe. We also need to be very careful that email servers around the world don't blacklist our servers as sources of spam, which could have a serious impact on our ability to rely on other emails to external addresses being delivered successfully. Campaign Monitor have agreements with all major ISPs that ensure that their outgoing servers don't get blacklisted, and as a Birkbeck IP address isn't used directly we avoid our servers potentially being blacklisted.

To protect the performance of our systems.
Sending HTML emails out in bulk via Birkbeck's mail systems can have a seriously negative impact on network and server performance that will cause problems for other users unless planned and timed very carefully. By using Campaign Monitor we avoid overloading Birkbeck’s servers.

To ensure that Birkbeck’s contact database is used and maintained correctly.
Birkbeck holds the contact details of all enquirers, applicants and students within SITS. It is essential that these details are used correctly to remain within the law and to ensure that the messages people receive are well targeted, timely and relevant. Birkbeck must also ensure that all unsubscribe messages and bounce backs are managed and logged correctly. Contact with prospective students should always enhance the relationship that Birkbeck has with the recipient. When sending HTML emails centrally we are able to ensure that this is the case.

To ensure that we abide by minimum accessibility guidelines.
Birkbeck has a legal requirement to ensure that our services are usable by people with disabilities. HTML emails often do not meet the standards required for accessibility, but we can ensure that any sent by Birkbeck are as accessible as possible AND contain a link to an accessible web version of the email.


Five email templates have been developed to facilitate the sending of emails for different uses. Colours and images can be changed and adapted on all of the templates. Examples of these can be seen below:

Short newsletter template

Short newsletter template
This is the simplest template, if something needs to be sent quickly please choose this one if possible.

The left hand image is 160px wide but can be any length within reason. The length of the email is flexible, you can add as many paragraphs as you like, within reason.

The left hand column has external links taking the reader to the Birkbeck website, or another website.

View a full size image of the short newsletter template.

Advert template 1

Advert 1 template
Suitable for advertising an event, left hand image can change, but must be the same width and height , the size of the whole email cannot be changed, so only a small amount of text can be fitted in.

View a full size image of the advert 1 template.

Advert template 2

Advert 2 template
This style can be more time-consuming to complete. Left hand image can change, but must be the same width and height. The size of the whole email cannot be changed, so only a small amount of text can be fitted in.

View a full size image of the advert 2 template.

Long newsletter template

Long newsletter template
For a newsletter with a lot of text and images. Left hand links are external, links in coloured box link to other parts of the newsletter.

View a full size image of the long newsletter template.

Three column template

Three column template
The three columns in a row must remain the same height, so suitable when each has a similar amount of text. Can have as many rows as you want, within reason, or can have just one. The width of the columns cannot be changed, but the height can.

View a full size image of the three column template.

Privacy and Anti-Spamming

It is crucial when sending emails that they are only sent to people who have opted into receiving publicity material from Birkbeck and that we therefore have their permission to send emails to them.

The following types of email addresses are NOT appropriate:

  • Any purchased list of email addresses from ANY external source no matter what that source claims.
  • Any non-specific email addresses unless you know the recipient and permission is clear. Examples of these addresses are,,, and
  • Any distribution lists or mailing lists, i.e. email addresses that mail to more than one email address. Distribution list send to more than one individual and permission is not directly been given by all individuals - past and future. Sending to one of these lists increases the likelihood of spam reports.

Campaign Tracking and Evaluation

Through Campaign Monitor we are able to track and evaluate the success of each email campaign in terms of who opens them or clicks through to read more. This is an extremely useful tool as it allows you to judge the popularity of events before hand, as well as showing you which people are interested in which courses or levels of study so that they can receive better targeted messages in the future. It also allows the Web and Marketing Teams to evaluate different factors to ensure that we continue to improve the service and strengthen our understanding of our students and stakeholders. Relationship building is key to successful recruitment and central to all marketing activity at the college. To support this Birkbeck invests a large amount annually in building up ongoing relationships with various categories of contacts, and tracking opening rates, click-throughs and site traffic generated from HTML emails are some of the ways in which these relationships can be analysed and developed.

Google analytics

As well as the reports, Campaign Monitor features Google Analytics integration, so you can use Google Analytics to track visitors who come to your site from a link in an HTML email.

The Booking Process

Bookings should be made to and need to include the following information:

  • The cost code you want us to charge the cost of sending the email to
  • The template you want to use
  • The text you want within the email
  • Any illustrations or photographs you would like used. We also have a large library of stock photos that we can select for you
  • The student profile. If you are using a template that uses a student profile then please specify which profile you would like us to use. A list of current profiles can be found at
  • When you would like the email sent
  • The mailing lists you would like included. This can include enquirers, applicants, current students and in some cases alumni.

Bookings should be made a minimum of 3 weeks prior to the date you would like the email sent.

Once your booking has been made we will confirm the booking with you and advise you when you should expect the first proof of the email. Any amendments should then be communicated to the Marketing Team. Once the email has been signed off it will then be sent to the agreed mailing list and you will be copied in. Once the email has been sent you will receive the web address and log in details to access the tracking and evaluation of the email.


The design of the emails is free; however, there is small cost of 5 US dollars per mailout plus 1 US cent per email address.

Any questions or queries regarding HTML emails should be addressed to the Marketing Team.