Making Your Email Accessible

If you’re like us, you’re always searching for the perfect combination of subject lines, photos, content, and more that will maximize the reach and impact of your email campaigns. These are all key considerations, but you might be missing out on some simple tweaks that will help you connect with an important subset of your mailing list: visually impaired or physically disabled subscribers. Here are some simple tips that will not only make your email accessible to them, but better for everyone, as well.

Add Image Descriptions or “Alt Text”

One of the easiest things you can do is make sure that each image in your email has a text-only description (also known as “alt text”). These descriptions are used in a variety of ways: screen-reading software (like VoiceOver on the Mac or iOS) can read the descriptions to the user using text-to-speech technology, email clients display the descriptions when the user has turned off image loading, and devices that don’t support HTML email (like Apple Watch) show them as part of the plain text version of your email. Adding a text-only description is easy, just click on the image and fill out the text box at the top:

Screenshot of the image editor popover

You may find it useful to use the Preview window to see which images in your email are still missing descriptions. You can use the “Show/Hide Images” button in the toolbar of the Preview window to toggle images on and off:

Screenshot highlighting the "Hide Images" toolbar button in the Preview window

Avoid Low Contrast Colors

This tip is especially important for text blocks in your email. Subscribers with declining eyesight may find it difficult to read text that is placed on a low-contrast background. For example, light gray text on a white background (or dark gray text on a black background). For examples of text blocks that have sufficient contrast, take a look at the templates that come built-in to Direct Mail.

Screenshot of an email with low-contrast text

It’s easy to adjust the colors in your email. If you are using one of Direct Mail’s modern templates, just click the “Fonts & Colors” button in the message editor toolbar. If you are using a different template, select the text and click the color picker icon in the message editor toolbar.

Bump Up the Font Size

Small font sizes may be too difficult to read (even for normally sighted readers), which might dissuade subscribes from diving into your great content. Although sizes vary by font, a good rule of thumb is to go no smaller than 14pt or 16pt. This guideline is especially important when it comes to the unsubscribe link—don’t make it hard to find! It is never a good idea to make the unsubscribe link difficult to find, because you only end up angering subscribers and inviting spam complaints.

The templates that come built-in to Direct Mail include good examples of proper font sizes. You can adjust font sizes in the “Fonts & Colors” panel. Pro-tip: click on the “Fonts” popup menu to see font combinations that look great and can be applied to your email with just one click (modern templates only).

Screenshot of the "Colors & Fonts" panel in Direct Mail

Direct Mail works great with VoiceOver!

VoiceOver icon

Not only does Direct Mail make it easy to create accessible emails, it’s also a very accessible app itself. We’ve put a lot of care into making sure that Direct Mail works great with VoiceOver, Apple’s technology for assisting low vision users navigate and use apps. Every part of Direct Mail, from the message editor to campaign reports, is accessible to users of all abilities. If you know someone that could benefit from this attention to accessibility, spread the word!

Conclusion

As an email marketer, you have many different variables you can tune and tweak to get great results. These accessibility tips will help you reach an even larger chunk of your list, and will make your emails better for everyone in the process. We hope you take advantage, and pass the word along!

Direct Mail and the GDPR

A new European privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is set to take effect later this year, and its requirements are something that all email marketers should be familiar with, even if you live outside the EU. This law places new obligations on anyone that processes the personal data of EU citizens, and limits the ways in which personal data can be used. Since the definition of “personal data” includes information like names and email addresses, the GDPR very much applies to email marketing and your use of Direct Mail. You’re encouraged to familiarize yourself with the new law, and, if necessary, update your business practices to comply with the new requirements.

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers

We have put together a guide to the GDPR, including information on how it specifically applies to your use of Direct Mail, and how Direct Mail can help you meet the requirements of the new law. For our customers in the EU who require it, we also have a Data Processing Addendum available.

Yes, Direct Mail is compatible with the GDPR

As outlined in our guide to the GDPR, Direct Mail is compatible with the requirements of the new law and can be used to process the personal data (i.e. email addresses, names, etc.) of your mailing list subscribers. It is important to remember, however, that you control the personal data that is being inputted into Direct Mail and, as such, should only do so in a manner compatible with the requirements of the GDPR. Among other things, this means making sure you obtained consent from the people on your mailing list, or have another legal basis for emailing them. Please see our guide for more detail.

Yes, you can use Direct Mail if you are located in the EU

You can lawfully use Direct Mail even if you are located in an EU member state. As explained in our guide to the GDPR, we have certified to the cross-border Privacy Shield framework, which provides you a recognized legal basis for using Direct Mail to process the personal data of EU citizens.

How Direct Mail can help

There are many ways that Direct Mail can help you meet the requirements of the new law—our guide explains them all—but one of the best is our easy-to-use subscribe forms. You can use Direct Mail’s subscribe form editor to create attractive email sign-up forms that can be placed on your website, Facebook page, iPad, and more. When people join your mailing list via these forms, you’ll have a full record of their consent that meets the requirements of the GDPR.

Direct Mail’s email sign-up forms are an easy to way capture consent from each subscriber on your list

Another easy way Direct Mail can help is through the use of our built-in “unsubscribe” and “update email address” links. These links allow your subscribers to easily withdraw their consent or update their personal data at any time, without requiring any work on your part. Direct Mail’s built-in templates already include these links by default, but if you are using a custom template (or a “Plain” template), then you can add them by following these instructions: adding an “unsubscribe” link, adding an “update email address” link

Conclusion

The new GDPR law is set to take effect soon, and it’s important to be aware of its requirements. Our guide to the GDPR is a great place to start to familiarize yourself with the new rules. Luckily, Direct Mail is fully compatible with the GDPR for users inside the EU and out, and includes tools you can use to bring your own business into compliance. Our support team stands ready to answer any questions you might have, and, as always, welcomes your feedback.

Direct Mail 5.2 Now Available

We released Direct Mail version 5.2 today, and we’re excited to share with you some of the improvements that can be found in this new update. As always, this update is free for all users, and can be obtained via a simple software update.

Two-Way Contact Syncing via PieSync

Direct Mail already integrates with over 700 popular apps and websites, allowing you to automate away the work of keeping your mailing lists up to date. In this latest update, we are introducing support for two-way contacting syncing via PieSync. PieSync allows you to keep your Direct Mail mailing lists in sync with any one of a number of supported apps and services (like Act!, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Quickbooks, Salesforce, and more). Direct Mail stays up-to-date in the background without you having to touch a thing, and special care is taken to handle unsubscribes, too.

You’ll find this new feature in Direct Mail’s integrations directory. Just choose Window > Integrations from the menu bar at the top of your screen and search for the app you’d like to connect to Direct Mail.

Design Tests Available for iPhone X, iPhone SE, Libero, and Orange.fr

 

You can now see pixel-perfect screenshots of what your email will look like on an iPhone X and iPhone SE, as well as how it will appear in webmail clients from Libero and Orange.fr. The addition of these email clients brings the total number of design test email clients to 70 (everything from Outlook to Android, Gmail, Yahoo, and more).

If you’re not familiar with our Design Test feature, it’s a great way to see, ahead of time, exactly what your subscribers will see when they open your email on their own devices or browsers. We’ve also recently revamped the pricing. Unlimited Plan customers now can run a number of design tests for free each month, and Pay Per Email Plan customers can run tests using their existing email credit balance.

To check it out, choose Message > New Design Test from the menu bar at the top of your screen, or click the Design Test button in the toolbar.

Updated Fonts

The custom fonts included with Direct Mail have been updated for improved legibility and compatibility. Of particular note is the Montserrat font, which now renders using a slightly heavier weight for easier reading (especially on mobile devices). If you haven’t already, we suggest taking a look at the new templates that shipped in version 5 to get an idea of how nice the new typography and layouts can be. Just click the “Choose Template” button in Direct Mail.

That’s Not All, Folks

Some additional improvements in this release include: more reliable uploading over spotty or slow network connections, improved keyboard navigation in the message editor, and several bug fixes. You can see a full list of everything that has changed in version 5.2 by choosing Help > What’s New in Direct Mail from the menu bar, or by clicking here.

Thank You!

As always, thank you for your continued support, emails, feature requests, reviews, and all manner of feedback! We love to hear from our customers (and potential customers) about how Direct Mail is working for you, and how it could be even better. We hope you enjoy the improvements in Direct Mail 5.2 and we look forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks.

Direct Mail 5.1 Now Available

The new Direct Mail 5.1 update brings helpful new features plus great compatibility and performance improvements, especially for users on macOS 10.13. It is available now, for free, to all users via a software update.

What’s New

Here’s a quick summary of some of the improvements in this new version. Full details are available in the release notes.

New Group from Selection

New Group from Selection menu item

You can now create a new address group and populate it with the currently selected addresses using one command. This can be handy if you have a list of addresses from a campaign report that you’d like to move into a group. Just select the addresses (in the Addresses tab), and choose Addresses > New Group from Selection from the menu bar or toolbar (or contextual menu).

Improved VoiceOver Support

VoiceOver icon

Direct Mail 5.1 provides full support not only for navigating the user interface via Apple’s VoiceOver technology, but also for composing and creating email content, as well. Vision-impaired users now have access to all of Direct Mail’s great tools for authoring emails, managing mailing lists, analyzing reports, and more. We are very excited to be able to bring the power of Direct Mail to even more Mac users.

…and More!

That’s not all, folks. This update addresses several user interface glitches that were present in macOS 10.13, and brings a speed boost to projects containing many campaign reports. You’ll also find improved email client compatibility, updated third-party integrations, and message editor improvements.

How to Update

Updating to Direct Mail 5.1 is free and easy. Just open Direct Mail and choose Direct Mail > Check for Software Update from the menu bar at the top of your screen. If you got Direct Mail from the Mac App Store, the app will update automatically once it has been approved by Apple.

Stamps Updated for iOS 11, Now with “Offline Mode” and More!

Hot on the heels of our big Direct Mail 5 update, we are happy today to announce some great improvements to our iOS app, Stamps! Stamps is a quick and easy way to check your email campaign reports on the go, sign up new subscribers to your mailing lists, view mobile previews of your emails as you design them, and more. Oh, and it’s free! Here are some of the new improvements now available in Stamps 1.5.

Offline Mode

Stamps makes it easy to turn your iPad (or iPhone) into a mobile, self-serve kiosk that people can use to sign up to your mailing list. Use it on the trade show floor, in store at the checkout counter, at events, or anywhere you want to grow your list.

Offline mode makes it easy to capture new subscribers, even when an internet connection is not available.

New in Stamps is the ability to collect new sign-ups even when an internet connection is unavailable (or too expensive). When you enable “offline mode”, your subscribe form looks and works just like normal, but without the need for an internet connection. Later, when a connection to the internet becomes available, disable offline mode and Stamps will sync your subscribers back to Direct Mail automatically in the background.

Updated for iOS 11 and iPhone X

Every aspect of Stamps has been optimized for the latest version of iOS, and the latest Apple devices, including new iPads and iPhone X. Enjoy large color thumbnails of your email campaigns, 3D Touch previews, dynamic type, Safari integration, and more. If you’re near your Mac, the Handoff feature makes it super easy to take the campaign report you’re looking at on screen in Direct Mail and move it to your phone (and vice-versa).

Additional Features

Other useful improvements include the ability to delete projects and reports from Stamps that you no longer need (just swipe to the left), the addition of search fields to the Projects list and Subscribe Forms list, as well as support for two-factor authentication for your Direct Mail account.

How to Get It

If you’ve already got Stamps installed on your iPhone or iPad, the App Store should automatically update it for you. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, you can search for “Stamps for Direct Mail” in the App Store, or click this link.

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