Tip: Previewing Before You Send

Did you know that you can use the Preview window to see what your final email will look like for each recipient? Click the Preview button in the toolbar to show the Preview window, then take a look at these three buttons:

  1. The “Previous/Next Address” buttons step through your mailing list. If you have any mail-merge tags in your email (like “first name”) or dynamic content, the preview will show you exactly how your message will be merged for the selected recipient.
  2. The “Simulate Screen Size” button shows you what your message looks like when it is resized down to different mobile-sized screens (including iPhone, Samsung, and iPad sizes)
  3. The “View on iPhone/iPad” button actually sends a preview directly to the iPhone in your pocket (or iPad on your desk). You’ll need to have the Stamps app installed on your device.

Getting Ready for macOS 10.14 “Mojave”

Last month, Apple previewed the next big update coming to the Mac this fall: macOS 10.14 “Mojave”. We are hard at work getting Direct Mail ready for the new operating system, and will have an update ready before Mojave becomes generally available.

Please note that if you choose to install beta versions of macOS 10.14, you may encounter bugs that could interrupt your workflow. For business-critical tasks, we recommend remaining on macOS 10.13 until the public release version of 10.14 is available.

Update (August 3rd): The latest public beta of macOS 10.14 is not compatible with the current release version of Direct Mail. If you need to run Direct Mail, please do not install the public beta, and instead remain on macOS 10.13 or earlier.

Dark Mode Sneak Peek

One of Mojave’s headlining features is a brand new “Dark Mode”. We think Direct Mail looks great in dark mode and wanted to share a sneak peek of what you can look forward to in the fall!

Mojave and Apple Mail Stationery

Direct Mail has long been compatible with Apple Mail stationery (where it appears in the “Legacy” section of Direct Mail’s template chooser). However, Apple is removing Apple Mail stationery from macOS 10.14. This will not present a problem for most customers, since stationery is rarely used these days. If you are, however, using stationery in Direct Mail and wish to do so after upgrading to macOS 10.14, click here to learn what you can do to prepare. Hint: upgrade to Direct Mail 5.3 before upgrading to macOS 10.14.

Direct Mail 5.3: Introducing Personal Data Reports

Our latest free update to Direct Mail began rolling out today, and we’re excited to share with you some of the improvements you can look forward to!

Personal Data Reports

New data privacy laws around the world mean that our customers may find it necessary to respond to personal information access and erasure requests that they receive from their mailing list members. In order to make it easier for you to respond to these requests, Direct Mail now includes the ability to generate and print (or save) a formatted personal information report. If necessary, you can also now easily erase all personal information related to an individual. These features can be found by choosing Window > Personal Data from the menu bar.

Improved Performance

Updated database technology under the hood means that you should enjoy a smoother, faster Direct Mail experience, with less waiting on a spinning cursor. In addition, campaign deliveries now start 2× faster!

…and More

A new emoji button in the toolbar 😃, a new “Starter” template, and a host of bug fixes are just some of the additional improvements you will find in Direct Mail 5.3. To get a full list, check out the release notes (or see them in-app by choosing Help > What’s New in Direct Mail from the menu bar).

How to Update

Your copy of Direct Mail will update automatically over the next few days. If you want to grab the update right away, open Direct Mail and choose Direct Mail > Check for Software Update from the menu bar.

July 2018 API Update

This is a technical blog post for consumers of our Direct Mail API. If you would like to receive email notifications each time our API is updated, please sign up here.

If you currently use our API, we want to make you aware of some minor, non-breaking changes that rolled out this week in conjunction with our Direct Mail 5.3 update. In order to help our users comply with lawful data erasure requests that they may receive from EU citizens, Direct Mail is now able, upon user request, to delete and anonymize campaign report data specific to a particular individual. This has implications for consumers of our API:

  • The JSON object that represents a campaign report recipient now has an additional boolean property named anonymized. If this property is true, it means that the information for the recipient has been anonymized/deleted, and you will find that other properties on the JSON object (e.g. email, bounce reason, etc.) are null or false, so as not to reveal information about the recipient.
  • The JSON object that represents a campaign report recipient has always included links to resources related to that recipient, including archived-address, live-address, opens, and clicks. If the recipient has been anonymized, those linked resources will be anonymized (as in the case of archived-address), return 404 not found (as in the case of live-address), or return empty data sets (as in the case of opens and clicks)
  • It is now possible for the number of reported opens, clicks, bounces, unsubscribes, etc. for a campaign to decrease over time. This is only possible in the case that the Direct Mail user chooses to delete data for a particular individual.

We do not anticipate that the above changes will break anyone’s use of the API. This information may be useful as you update your own business processes and software to be compatible with privacy law changes around the world.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact our support team.

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!

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