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April 26, 2023

Mastering B2B Email Templates: Best Practices for Outlook Compatibility

As a B2B marketer, you’re well aware of the importance of reaching the right people with the right message. An essential part of that is creating email templates that not only look great but are also highly compatible with the most widely used email clients. In the B2B world, Microsoft Outlook reigns supreme, so it’s crucial that your email templates are designed with Outlook compatibility in mind. In this blog post, we’ll cover the best practices for creating email templates that work seamlessly with Outlook, while also ensuring optimal readability and engagement.

1. Understand Outlook’s Limitations

Outlook has a reputation for being less flexible and less CSS-friendly compared to other email clients. This is primarily due to its reliance on Microsoft Word’s rendering engine. Knowing the limitations of Outlook will help you create email templates that look great across all platforms. Here’s a handy reference for supported CSS and HTML tags in various versions of Outlook:

2. Keep it Simple with Tables

While modern web design has moved away from using tables for layout, email design still relies on them for maximum compatibility. Stick to using tables to structure your email, and avoid complex nested structures. This will ensure that your email renders correctly in Outlook and other email clients.

3. Use Inline CSS

Outlook is notorious for stripping out embedded and linked stylesheets. To make sure your styles are applied, use inline CSS. Tools like Premailer and Juice can help you convert your existing stylesheets to inline styles.

4. Optimize Images

Images are an integral part of email marketing, but it’s important to optimize them for fast loading and high quality. Here are a few best practices for image optimization:

  • Compress images using tools like TinyPNG or, without compromising quality.
  • Always include the width and height attributes for images. This ensures that even if images are blocked in Outlook, the layout remains intact.
  • Use descriptive alt tags for images, as some email clients (including Outlook) may block images by default. Properly described alt tags ensure that recipients can still understand the content and context of your email.

5. Employ Bulletproof Buttons

Call-to-action (CTA) buttons are a critical element in B2B emails. Unfortunately, Outlook doesn’t support the border-radius property, which means that rounded buttons created with CSS may appear square. To overcome this limitation, use bulletproof buttons. These buttons are designed to look great in all email clients, including Outlook.

6. Test, Test, Test

No matter how carefully you follow best practices, there’s no substitute for thorough testing. Use email template testing tools like Litmus or Email on Acid to see how your email templates render in different versions of Outlook and other email clients. This will ensure your B2B recipients have the best possible experience, regardless of the device or email client they use.

By following these best practices, you can create B2B email templates that look great and perform well in Outlook and other email clients. By understanding Outlook’s limitations, using tables and inline CSS, optimizing images, employing bulletproof buttons, and conducting thorough testing, you’ll be well on your way to crafting engaging and effective B2B emails. Keep up to date with the latest developments and updates for Outlook compatibility, as email clients are continually evolving. By staying informed and adapting to these changes, you’ll maintain a competitive edge in the B2B email marketing world.

Remember, B2B email marketing is an essential tool for building relationships and driving sales. Make sure your email templates are not only visually appealing but also highly compatible with the most widely used email clients like Outlook. By following the best practices outlined in this blog post, you’ll be one step closer to achieving your B2B marketing goals.

Now it’s time to put these best practices into action and create B2B email templates that stand out in the inbox and drive results. Good luck, and happy emailing!

Related Resources

Digital Decoded Podcast: Mastering B2B Email Templates: Coding for Outlook Compatibility

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