Vladislav Podolyako
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Given how often we sing praise to Gmail, one may think that we’re terribly biased and care little about other email service providers. That’s not true. While Gmail is the most common choice of our clients and is used by 95% of businesses around the globe, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try Outlook for a wider and more reliable email outreach. It’s logical to rely on more than one email service provider for your outreach.

Outlook provides a convenient user interface, great asset organization and has the perfect synergy with Microsoft Exchange Play without involving a tech expert. In our experience, it can become of great help in both spearheading and backing up your outreach. Since we want to ensure that your outreach is always on point, in this article we’d like to point out three main Outlook challenges - and outline ways to fix them, ultimately making your Outlook marketing campaigns better and easier. 

1. Optimizing GIFs

In general, we’re not sure about using images in B2B email marketing campaigns. Spam filters keep a watchful eye on any kind of images in emails and, therefore, may label your messages as spam due to wrong formatting or large image size. However, just in case you need that feature or have a daring idea, here’s how you make full use of GIFs in Outlook:  

The main issue in Outlook when it comes to GIFs is that not all Outlook versions support them. While Yahoo, Apple Mail, Gmail, Outlook 2003 support gif images, Outlook 2007-2016 doesn’t. Since 2007, HTML emails received by Outlook desktop apps are rendered by Microsoft Word. 

This makes Outlook such an unfavored platform among email marketing experts. They feel limited in their creative freedom and dread the penalties from spam filters due to bad formatting. For example, it’s common for Outlook emails to show only the first frame of the GIF. Preposterous! 

Do we know how to hack HTML rendering? Not really. However, there is a way to turn this disadvantage into an advantage. 

Workaround your limitations by doing the following:

If your GIF is customized and developed specifically for your email campaigns, place its CTA on the very first frame. It will save you the frustration and let your recipients make sense of the content they receive.

Do some coding. With the help of conditional code, you can make sure that the recipients who don’t use Outlook are able to see GIFs without any trouble, while your Outlook recipients get a static image that still makes sense and doesn’t compromise your message. The conditional code looks like this:

<!--[if !mso]>
      <img class="outlookcomIMG" src="ANIMATED.gif" />
    <![endif]-->    <!--[if gte mso 9]>
      <img src="STATIC.jpg" />

2. Removing line bugs 

The most irritating thing about Outlook 2016 is the 1px line bug. It’s an annoying line that keeps popping up between the campaign blocks. This happens because of Outlook’s tendency to add extra lines, which then find their way into the background. The most frustrating part about that bug is that it occurs randomly, so it’s hard to predict or prevent it from happening. 

We’ll be frank since this bug is unpredictable, it cannot be fixed. You can only do some damage control and save your email designers the headache:

Sometimes, a mere adjustment of heights and font sizes is enough. Try converting your font size and line heights before you go to other, more complicated measures.

You can resort to Microsoft-based coding. There is a small snippet of code that, when added to your head code, will launch the border-collapse command, effectively hiding the bug line and making your email look presentable:

<!--[if (gte mso 9)|(IE)]>
<style type="text/css">table {border-collapse: collapse;border-spacing: 0; }</style>

However, since even the simplest Microsoft-based snippets can be very complicated, remember that this method doesn’t work for all designs. So, you have to be extra careful with that. We suggest consulting with your web developer before resorting to this.

Another way to cover up the line bug is a fairly simple one. The 1px line bug is known to inherit the color from the <body> tag.  So, by tinkering with the background color in <body>, you can change it to the color of the troublesome part. That will keep the pesky line invisible to your recipients without forcing you to spend some time on coding and experimenting.

However, all these steps are half of the battle. Keep in mind that each recipient sees your Outlook email differently. For example, it’s known that the 1px line bug occurs in Windows 10 a lot more than in Windows 7, and that it’s exclusive to Outlook 2016 only, while Outlook versions 2007 through 2013 never have that issue. Therefore, before you start fixing that bug, we suggest asking your recipients about their experience with your emails and see how many of them actually encounter the bug.

3. Fixing small inconveniences with coding

Major problems aside, there are other little things that make your work in Outlook harder. We’ll go through them one by one:

Text wrapping. Another reason for major frustration among outreach experts is automatic wrapping. Whenever you insert a text block into a table, it widens the table’s cells because they accommodate text strings instead of breaking them down. To fix that little problem, you can add <td style="word-break:break-all;"> to your style and forget about table problems.

Link styling. Many senders usually experience problems with wrapping up links neatly because Outlook 2016 refuses to acknowledge them, turning them into anchors that make your email look less presentable and even suspicious to email spam filters. The secret to solving this problem is the correct formatting. Make sure that your link has “href” in it because otherwise Outlook 2016 will ignore it. Plus, when you style the link, don’t forget to put it in a <span>. Then, you’re free to make any adjustments you need.  

HTML elements adjustment. Outlook 2016 has the habit of messing with <div> sections of all emails that are rendered in it. Those sections inherit the height and the width of the text they contain, completely ruining the look of the email. Using tables enables you to avoid that problem.   

Horizontal spacing. Whenever you try to put lists into your Outlook 2016 email, the spacing is all over the place. Quite frankly, you shouldn’t continue to try working with your lists. It won’t get better. Instead, you can put your list in a table and replace bullets with ASCII characters or bullet images. This is the only way to add structure to your email. 


Outlook is tricky, but not without its benefits. It grants you offline access to email, allows you to categorize your emails freely, create information-rich contact cards and keep your mailbox clutter-free. So, there is little wonder why a fraction of users would prefer it to Gmail or use it in addition to Gmail. Therefore, all the difficulties and challenges with Outlook 2016 bugs and perks are worth the trouble. It’s also worth mentioning that Outlook is working on the ways to remove these challenges and make its feature set more advanced and less complicated to users. And when that happens, we’d be happy to introduce you to all new changes and upgrades.

We hope this short set of tips allowed you to optimize your work with Outlook 2016 and make it a better, friendlier place. And if you want to enrich your outreach experience with more useful information, make sure to stay subscribed to our newsletter. 

Vladislav Podolyako

Co-founder and CEO of Belkins and Folderly
Vlad’s decades of entrepreneurial wisdom and business building experience have allowed him to successfully mentor a diverse group of business owners, entrepreneurs in growing their companies. A recognized expert in the areas of transforming organizational culture and leadership development, B2B Sales, Marketing, spent more than 10 years building technology products, with a background in communication networks and electronic device engineering.