Fonts in Email … Am I Still Stuck With Arial and Times?
You're probably wondering that if this is possible, then why aren't all email marketers using Web fonts? Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Support for Web fonts across email clients or software is not strong. Why? Improvements to and updating of email clients doesn't seem to be a top priority for software developers. (My guess is that most aren't in marketing!) Where Web browsers are making huge strides in performance and use of the latest technologies, most email clients have had minor updates and improvements.
Because of this, older email clients like, AOL, Outlook and Yahoo do not currently support Web fonts. Microsoft products seem to lag behind as well, because they use their own method to display text and graphics compared to the other players.
On the flip side, smart phones and newer email clients developed for iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android platforms, and Apple Mail, Android and Thunderbird email clients do support the new technologies. But until the most popular email clients follow the latest standards, we'll continue to struggle with web fonts displaying properly or at all in emails.
So What's a Marketer to Do?
The problem is consistency. You need to know the email you send will consistently be displayed in the intended fonts. Although there are coding tricks that can be used to "replace" Web fonts not displayed with Web-safe fonts, you begin to lose control of the look and feel of your email designs. Or worse, the fonts don't display at all. Marketers can't take that chance.
As much as I hate to say this, because I love to implement new technology in my creative, you should play it safe for now. Continue to use current methods of combining Web-safe fonts with a blend of "type as an image." Just be very aware of your balance of images to live text. You don't want your email campaigns to be labeled as SPAM.
Patrick Fultz is the President/CCO of DM Creative Group, a creative marketing firm producing work across all media. He’s an art-side creative, marketing strategist, designer and lover of all things type. His credentials include a degree from Parsons School of Design with 15 years of teaching at his alma mater, over 40 industry creative awards, and he previously served as President of the John Caples International Awards. Always an innovator, Fultz was credited with creating the first 4-color variable data direct mail piece ever produced. He continues to look for innovative ways to tap the powerful synergy of direct mail, the web, digital and social media.