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!


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!

Quick Tip: Comparing Campaign Reports

Here’s a quick tip that appeared in our May 2016 newsletter. Don’t want to miss the next one? Sign up for our newsletter here.

Want a super easy way to compare the results of a recent email campaign to campaigns that you sent in the past? In Direct Mail’s “Reports” tab, simply select two or more campaign reports from the list at the top of the window. As you do so, Direct Mail will reveal a table that shows how the selected campaigns compare to each other across a variety of metrics. You can also click on the “Charts” section for a visual comparison of open and click performance across your campaigns.

To select multiple reports, just hold down the command key on your keyboard while you click.

Hold down the command or shift keys and click to select more than one campaign report
Hold down the command or shift keys and click to select more than one campaign report

Weekly Tips Roundup: June 3

Whether you’re new to Direct Mail or a seasoned professional, you’re bound to learn something new from our @directmailmac Twitter feed. We’ve started posting daily tips on how to get the most out of all the features packed into Direct Mail. Every week or so, we’ll roll up the recent tips and post them here to our blog, too.

Many of our customers have discovered new features they didn’t know about, while others have learned great time-saving tricks. Take a look and let us know what you think!

Schedule your email campaign to send itself at a later date

View your email campaign reports on the go with our iOS app

Save time with handy multi-touch gestures

Organize and archive your messages (and autoresponders) with easy-to-use folders

Turn your Facebook Page fans into email subscribers

Quick Tip: Checking For Broken Links

Here’s a quick tip that appeared in our May 2016 newsletter. Don’t want to miss the next one? Sign up for our newsletter here.

No one likes sending out an email campaign only to discover that the message contained a broken or incorrect link. Wouldn’t it be great if Direct Mail could alert you to these kinds of problems before you send? Luckily, Direct Mail includes just such a feature! Check out the “New Spam Test” option in the menu bar (or click the Spam Test icon in the toolbar). As part of the test, Direct Mail will take a look at each link in your message and let you know if there is a problem.

Choose Message > New Spam Test from the menu bar to check for broken links

Search and Segment Like a Pro

You are probably already familiar with the “Search Addresses” box in the toolbar, but in this blog post I want to introduce you to a couple more powerful ways you can search for addresses in your mailing lists. There are lots of reasons you may find yourself wanting to do more than just a simple search, including:

  • Sending a special email campaign to just a particular segment of your mailing list (like the folks who engage the most with your emails)
  • Bulk operations, like unsubscribing, editing, or removing a list of email addresses

Both searching features can be found in the menu bar, under the Edit > Find menu: Find Addresses Matching List and Find Addresses Matching Rules.

Find Addresses Matching List

Screenshot of Find Addresses Matching List
Choose Edit > Find > Find Addresses Matching List… from the menu bar.

This feature works exactly as advertised. Just type or paste in a list of email addresses and click Find. Direct Mail will search for and display all the matching email addresses it finds in your address groups. There is flexibility in how your enter your list, too. Emails can be one-email-per-row, or comma-separated, or any other delimiter. They can include names (e.g. “Joe User” <joe@example.com>) or just plain email addresses (jane@example.com).

Find Addresses Matching Rules

Screenshot of Find Addresses Matching Rules
Choose Edit > Find > Find Addresses Matching Rules… from the menu bar.

This is where the real fun starts. This feature allows you to set a list of criteria (or “rules”) to search for. For example, you could search for contacts that match all of the following:

  • Subscribed in the past six months
  • Open rate greater than 30%
  • Most recent location is “California”

We’ve provided some sample rules that you can use to get started. To access the sample rules, click the “gear” menu in the bottom-left corner of the window.

Making Search Results Useful

Depending on the purpose of your search, there are several actions you can take with the results of your search. For example:

  • You can copy and paste the search results into a new address group. This could be a segment of your list that you send a targeted campaign to later.
  • You can bulk-edit the search results by selecting the addresses and choosing Addresses > Edit from the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  • You can bulk-unsubscribe the search results by selecting the addresses and choosing Addresses > Mark as Unsubscribed from the menu bar at the top of the screen.

We hope you “found” these search tips handy 😉. More searching tips are available in our support section, including finding duplicates, finding invalid email addresses, and help on finding your most engaged subscribers.

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