Why is my email not displaying correctly in my inbox?

One potential challenge of email marketing is the fact that different types of email clients and user settings can impact how email content is displayed for the receiver. You can follow some basic guidelines in order to maximize the ease of use for subscribers. This guide also provides some basic troubleshooting tips for major email service providers. 

General Tips

Gmail Tips

Outlook Tips

General Tips for Displaying Email Content:    

  • Make sure that the most important information in your email is included as text, and that your message is not too image heavy. Some email clients will block images by default, and some users may choose to filter out larger pictures. Including important information as text makes sure that your message is seen by the receiver. 
      • Consider the 60/40 Rule. This commonly referenced ratio for text and images is often used for identifying potential spam. Aiming for a ratio of 60% text and 40% images helps keep your message out of the spam folder. 
  • Use A/B testing to send the “best” version of a message to a majority of your users. Learn more about configuring A/B testing in this article
  • If you are sending a Newsletter, enable the Approval Email feature so that your team has a chance to review the most recently updated version of your message before sending. Check out this article for more details on using approval messages. 
  • Send test emails to different types of email clients if possible. For example, if your business email sends to an Outlook address, consider sending an additional test email to a personal gmail account. 

Email Image and Content Specs: 

Following our general aspect ratio recommendations for images in your emails can help images from appearing as skewed or blocked. Click here to view our article on email content specs.  

Outside Message Testing: 

Other tools are available to provide a deeper dive into both inbox display and email syntax. Here are several resources we’d recommend for this purpose. Note that these services are not associated with Second Street and may have an added cost. 




Gmail Tips

  • Message Clipping: Gmail will clip messages with text/html content larger than 102KB. You can view the full content of your message by clicking the View Entire Message link. 

Note: Email “size” is determined by the number of bytes in an email, so performing actions like reducing image sizes does not actually make your email smaller. Bytes are related to the individual characters of code that make up your email content. You’d be better served by reducing the overall amount and complexity of content, like removing an unnecessary image, than trying to scale your email differently to avoid a message being clipped.

Tips to prevent message clipping

    • Remove any unnecessary or extra content like images or links that are not adding overall value to your email.
    • If you are copying text or other content into your email and not using the HTML editor, make sure to copy your content as plain text so that you do not accidentally copy unneeded code into your text editor. You can use a program like NotePad to save text as plain text. 
    • Change your subject line when sending test emails. Because Gmail combines similar messages into threads, you may notice your messages link if you send a series of test messages with the same title. This would only be occurring in your inbox, not the inbox of your users. Consider adding a number to the end of each test email that you send to make sure the emails are created in a new thread.
  • Pre-Header Display: If a user searches their inbox to locate your email, Gmail displays relevant text from the search in the space that normally displays the Pre-Header content. Your Pre-Header should always display in the main inbox. 

Outlook Tips

  • Message Clipping: Outlook will clip images within messages that are over 1728px tall. To resolve, you will want to reduce the size of the image itself. If you cannot reduce beyond that scale, you can split your image into sections, and stack them together via content blocks. However, this route does require a custom template to be used. 
  • Background Images: Most versions of Outlook generally do not support images used as a background, even when using custom HTML. 
  • GIFs and Animations: Some of the most common versions of Outlook, including 2007, 2010, and 2013, do not support GIFs or animations in messages. Some newer versions of Microsoft Office, Outlook.com, and some mobile devices do support GIFs. Individual settings may also block these animations by default. 
  • Extra White Space: Because older versions of Outlook convert email displays using Word properties, some emails may be displayed as stretched or with extra space between sections. Users should be able to improve this by searching their Settings and changing their height attributes
  • Pictures Cannot be Displayed Error/Red X in Image Locations: A user’s temporary internet files settings can impact the display of images in emails. You can reference this article from Microsoft support for more information.