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What is Email Source Code and Why Should I Care?

No matter how long you’ve been in email marketing, you’re surely aware that open and click-through rates are crucial.

There are several strategies to enhance these KPIs, ranging from tweaking your material to generating fantastic subject lines.

However, many marketers fail to take the effort to grasp email source code, instead relying on their email marketing platform or template.

However, your email source code (the HTML code of your email) has the power to create or ruin your email campaign, as we’ll see below.

Ringly email source code example

What exactly is email source code?

The source code of an email will include the email’s header information as well as HTML code to design the remainder of the message.

This implies that by inspecting the source code of an email, you may determine when you got the message, which server transmitted it, and a variety of other details.

What is the significance of this to you?

Whether it’s to learn the technical side of emails or to figure out why your emails are being sent to someone’s spam box, the raw source code of every email may be quite useful. When your online support staff is addressing content or delivery issues from consumers, for example, having access to this source code would be quite beneficial.

You may find it helpful to look at an email source code sample to better comprehend this. We’ve shown how to accomplish this for a variety of servers below:

View the source code of an email in Apple Mail.

  1. Navigate to Mail on your Mac.
  2. Select View > Message > Raw Source from the menu.

This will open the email’s source code in a new window, where you may print or save it. You may also accomplish this on your keyboard by pressing Option-Command-U.

These instructions are also applicable to Outlook Mac source code.

View the source code of an email in Outlook.

  1. Navigate to the message you wish to examine.
  2. Click Actions at the top of the message.
  3. Select View Message Source from this option.

You can also extract the HTML code from Outlook emails by right clicking on the message in your inbox (before opening it) and selecting View Message Source.

Interpreting the source code in an email’s header

So, what precisely can the email header’s source code tell you about an email’s contents, and why is this important?

We’ll go through the many components that make up an email header so you can understand what each one signifies and what it might tell you about the email. However, it is critical to remember that every line in an email header is forgeable and hence may not be trustworthy.

The only lines you can rely on are the received lines, which are created by your computer.

  • Received: As previously said, your computer creates this, which recounts the travel of the email from its origin to its destination (your inbox). It’s many lines lengthy and will indicate all of the interactions your email has had along the way.
  • Return-path: This differs from the “from address” in that it shows the “reply to” address.
  • Authentication-results: This indicates how thoroughly the sender’s server checks the sender’s credentials.
  • Date: The time when the message was first sent by the sender.
  • From: The email address from which the message was sent. This often includes the sender’s name.
  • Reply-to: If you click “reply,” this is the email address that will receive the message. Again, this may not be the same address as the one from which the email was received.
  • Message-ID: This is the tracking number for the email.
  • Precedence: Different servers utilize this section of the header differently, and others may not use it at all. It is essentially a rating system that identifies the kind of communication. For example, “bulk” implies that it is being sent to a large number of email addresses.
  • List-unsubscribe: This enables you to unsubscribe from an email using a keyed reference from the message’s mail list.
  • X-spam-score: This is a number assigned by your email server to indicate the likelihood that this email is spam. Emails that have a low score may be sent to the spam folder.

There are several email headers available, but these precise data points may reveal a lot about an email and its sender.

What to Think About When Designing Emails

All of this should have given you a good idea of what email source code entails—but, as you may have noticed, we’ve only touched on the email header.

When it comes to constructing the whole email using HTML code, there is a lot more to learn. Coding your own emails requires a lot of technical know-how and coding talents, from creating tables to put your information in to ensuring you’ve picked the proper width for mobile readers.

Isn’t it too complicated?

Even if coding isn’t your “thing,” there are methods to create these stunning HTML emails without shedding any blood, sweat, or tears.

Casper HTML designed email

HTML vs plain-text emails

Many emails nowadays, whether created using an email marketing platform or utilizing the tools provided by your email provider, will incorporate HTML. Colorful displays, compelling graphics, intriguing calls-to-action, and on-brand typography are all made possible by HTML.

And they had to be superior than text-only emails, right?

No, not in every instance.

When it comes to emails, less is sometimes more, and plain-text versions are significantly less likely to cause difficulties owing to their basic nature. In reality, plain-text emails have a 100% delivery rate. This is critical because clients place a high value on consistency.

The drawbacks of plain-text emails

Despite the fact that plain-text emails eliminate many of the concerns listed above, it doesn’t take a genius to see that plain-text emails are often, well, plain. It’s easy for them to seem uninteresting, which may rapidly lead to an unprofessional feeling.

As a result, several email builders enable you to send plain-text copies of more engaging HTML emails, allowing the receiver to choose which they prefer. However, it’s critical to double-check the text version to verify it’s correctly optimized and displays effectively.

There are also some basic HTML templates available that take plain-text emails to the next level, wrapping them up in a way that looks on-brand but isn’t too crowded or “salesy.”

Moo HTML sales template

Furthermore, when utilizing an email builder like Emma, they assist you in overcoming many of the aforementioned HTML difficulties. And they’ll provide you with all of the advantages of HTML emails, such as improved aesthetic appeal and beautifully arranged content.

Which emails are most appropriate for your company?

This will need some strategic testing. A/B test various sorts of emails to find which ones connect most with your consumers. Then, attempt to improve these styles in order to increase your open and click-through rates.

Wrap up 

Even if you don’t want to learn coding, knowing the fundamental features and why they are important to your organization is a smart idea.

Being aware of email source code and how it might effect your sender’s reputation, as well as the overall appearance and feel of the email, will allow you to consistently enhance your email campaigns and propel your company forward.