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    HTML Email


    Applies to: All ONTRAPORT accounts.

    The HTML Email editor provides a visual editor with greater control over the underlying HTML code than the ONTRAmail editor. In most cases the ONTRAmail editor will create standards-compliant email messages much faster and easier than the HTML Email editor. However, you may want to use the HTML Email editor for:

    • HTML email templates you purchase or obtain separately
    • Long email content that is mostly text with few images
    • Table based layouts you are adapting from another system

    The Messages Collection

    Where to Find the Messages Collection

    The Messages Collection stores all of your saved Email, ONTRAmail and Task messages. It is accessed through the Campaigns > Messages main menu item (in some accounts the Messages Collection will be found in Contacts > Messages instead).

    the messages collection

    Customize the Display of the Messages Collection

    Resize Columns

    Hover just to the left of the column heading, then click and drag the < > symbol to resize the column.

    change column width

    Default Columns

    • Name - The name you give the message. This is not seen by your contacts.
    • Subject - The subject line of the message.
    • Spam Score - A score added by SpamAssassin; scores of 5 and above are not sent. Scores of 3 or below are considered excellent.
    • Date Created
    • Type - ONTRAmail, Email, and Task are the basic Types you will see here. If the Type is "ONTRAmail (Transactional)" or "Email (Transactional)" then the email has been selected as Transactional Only.
    • Sent - The number of messages sent.
    • Opened - The number and percentage of sent messages that we could detect were opened by the recipient. See note.

    Note: We use a single pixel transparent image that is loaded from our servers to detect if the email is opened. If the recipient has images turned off, or uses a privacy plugin they will not be counted as an "Open". Links are tracked 100%, so a click on a link is always counted. You may see "clicks" outnumber "opens" for some messages.

    Add New Column Headings

    Customize the fields that are displayed by clicking the + Add Column button in the upper right-hand corner. In addition to the default "Opened" column that is displayed, you can add additional columns to see at a glance how each message is performing:

    Some common columns you can add to the Messages Collection

    Popular columns to add:

    • Clicked - How many recipients clicked at least one link in the email.
    • Not Opened - How many we could not detect were opened. See note
    • Not Clicked - How many recipients did not click any links in the email.
    • Opt Outs - How many recipients clicked the "Manage Your Subscription" link and opted out.
    • Complaints - How many recipients complained that your message was spam.

    Note: We use a single pixel transparent image that is loaded from our servers to detect if the email is opened. If the recipient has images turned off, or uses a privacy plugin they will not be counted as an "Open". Links are tracked 100%, so a click on a link is always counted. You may see "clicks" outnumber "opens" for some messages.

    Sorting the Contacts display

    Sort your Messages by clicking on the column headings. Click the heading again to reverse the sort order. Any of the columns you add can be sorted in this way.

    Set the number of Messages per page

    Change the number of messages that display on a page at the bottom of the page. This setting will remain in place until changed again. Also note the status bar indicates the page that you are currently viewing.

    Set the number of records per page and navigate through pages at the bottom

    Create a Group of Messages

    Click the Group drop down list to create a new Group, or load and manage any existing Groups.

    Click the group down arrow to create a new group of messages

    You can set criteria to filter messages in dozens of ways, and save the Group for viewing later. Each time you display the Group the system rechecks and adds all messages that meet the criteria automatically. Examples include messages created within the last 30 days, all messages with names starting with the letters "MRKTG:", or to only show one of more of the message Types.


    To search for a value in your Messages Collection that is displayed in one of the column headings click in the search bar, enter your query, and press the Enter key.

    HTML Email Editor Basics

    Open the HTML Email editor by navigating to Contacts > Messages and clicking the New Message button. Select the HTML Email editor icon:

    HTML Email icon

    You can also select the HTML Email editor whenever composing a new message, for example in a workflow in a sequence Email Step or the Contacts Actions > Email function.

    Email Configuration Options

    The HTML Editor includes the following fields at the top:

    1. Send From (the ONTRAPORT user name the email is sent from)
    2. Email From (the ONTRAPORT user's email address)
    3. Send Email To (the contact's email address by default)
    4. Subject Line (the subject line that appears in the recipient's inbox)
    5. Transactional Email - Please read and understand the requirements and limitations of using this checkbox in our Transactional Email article. Transactional email cannot include any marketing information at all, including promotional links, coupon codes, or any kind of "call to action". It cannot be used to deliver free lead generation promos, such as a free ebook. It is reserved for non-marketing information such as product delivery, payment receipt, notices such as changes to your privacy policy, etc. In the Messages Collection, you will see "Email (Transactional)" in the Type column of any email you have set to Transactional Email.

      Top portion of the HTML Email editor
    6. Next is the Edit HTML Header (Advanced) section. It expands to accommodate information to be added to the "HEAD" of the email (usually found in an HTML email template).
    7. The Add tracking to the links in this email checkbox adds UTM parameters to the links you add to the email. The UTM parameters are explained in depth in our Automatic Email Tracking article. The UTM parameters are:
      1. utm_campaign - This will be the Campaign, Sequence or Rule name if the email is sent from a Campaign, Sequence or Rule, and the date if the email is sent from the Contacts Collection as a broadcast. Please make sure your Campaigns, Sequences and Rules have names that are suitable to be seen by your customers if you use this feature.
      2. utm_source - This will indicate if the email is sent from a Campaign, Sequence, Rule or broadcast with tags such as "ONTRAPORT-email-campaign", "ONTRAPORT-email-rule", etc.
      3. utm_medium - The same tag from the utm_source parameter is used for the utm_medium tag.
      4. utm_content - The subject line is used for the utm_content parameter.
      5. utm_term - This is only used when the email is sent as a broadcast from a Group Action in the Contacts Collection. The name of the Group is included in this parameter. Please make sure the name of your Group is suitable for disclosure to your customers when using this feature.

    Note: Using the Add tracking to the links in this email is optional. ONTRAPORT already allows you to define Triggers, Goals and Conditions in Campaigns for any link that is clicked in your email. This feature simply adds some additional tracking capabilities to links, primarily for use in Google Analytics.

    HTML Email Editor Functions

    The editor buttons are next, presented in three rows. Hovering over the buttons reveals the intended use. Most are self-explanatory but these deserve special mention:

    Source and Preview buttons (top row)

    Source and Preview buttons

    The Source button toggles between raw HTML code and the visual representation your contact will see in their inbox. When pasting in HTML source code remember to click the Source button first. All the other editing buttons will fade to light grey and become inactive. Paste the code and click the button again to toggle to the visual view. The Preview button next to it opens a new browser window with the email rendered in it. Note that this preview mode does not replace merge fields with data.

    Clear Formatting Button (middle row)

    Clear Format button

    The Clear Formatting button removes selected HTML code from the selected text. For example, it will remove the italics added to header text, but leave the text formatted as header text.

    Insert Anchor Button (middle row)

    Insert Anchor button

    Highlight the text you want to use as the destination of a link in the email, or position the cursor above the text if desired, and click the flag icon. Name the Anchor. You can now use this Anchor Name in a hyperlink elsewhere in the email. This is often used in long emails with a call to action near the bottom; set the Anchor at that call to action and link to it from another point - perhaps with wording like "Satisfied? Click HERE to see our special offer!" When creating the link choose "Link to anchor in text" in the Link Type dialog and select the Anchor Name:

    Link to Anchor Name

    Maximize Editor Button (bottom row)

    Maximize editor button

    Click this button to expand the editor window to fill the browser viewport. Click it again to revert to the normal view.

    The Maximize button expands the editor window to fill the browser viewport.

    Using Merge Fields

    Merge fields can be inserted into your email messages to personalize them. Nearly every field in the Contact Record is available as a merge field, including the contact's name, address, the last invoice amount, etc. In addition, all of the ONTRApages and legacy Landing Pages are listed to be included as personalized URLS, or PURLS.

    See our article Formatting Merge Fields for information on formatting options and the default value you can display if the Contact Record field is empty.

    Merge Field Use Case: Creating a View on Web Link

    Type the text you want to use for the link, such as "View this Email on the Web", and highlight it.


    Click the link icon (1), select the < other > protocol (2), and type the merge field [Hosted_Email_Link] into the URL box (3). Click OK.


    Inserting an HTML Email Template

    HTML email templates are usually provided in one file containing the raw HTML. At the top of the file you may find "header" or <head> information. Copy and paste that information into the Edit HTML Header (Advanced) section.

    Header information

    Click the Source button in the main editor section and paste the rest of the HTML into the editor window. The HTML Email editor will strip out the unnecessary parts of the code that are redundant. The editor window will look something like this:

    HTML Header and Body Code in Editor

    You can now finish editing the email in either HTML Source or, by clicking the Source button again, in Visual mode.

    Limitations of the HTML Email Editor

    • Links render as blue underlined links in most cases.
    • There is no error checking, allowing you to overwrite responsive design and otherwise bungle your way to a hot mess (which is why we created ONTRAmail!)

    Creating a Plain Text Email Version

    Create a plain-text version of your email by clicking the Copy From HTML button in the lower section titled Plain Text Email:

    Copy from HTML button

    This format allows recipients who use older or simpler email clients to view your message. Including a text version is also important for the delivery of your message.

    If the plain text version is not present or does not match the HTML version of your message, the email will likely be sent to spam or discarded. Because of this, it is a best practice to click the "Copy from HTML" button after you write or edit any email, then clean up the formatting so it looks nice.

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