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Email Design Tip of the Week: Forwarding Emails

This week, we’re going to tackle a commonly asked question:

Why does my email look broken when forwarded?


If you forward an HTML email using the forward button in your email program, it will often break the code, making the design display incorrectly for the recipient of the forward. Instead, use the “forward to a friend” link built into the email, if one is available. Using this link will send a clean email out of ExactTarget, and give you the option to type a personal message above the email. This link is either a button or text link marketers commonly place either in the top or bottom of the email.

How do I add a “Forward to a Friend” link to my email?

If you don’t have a “forward to a friend” link in your email, you can add it several ways. Either link the desired text or image in ExactTarget using the link choice “Forward to a Friend”, or use the substitution string “%%ftaf_url%%” as a link in an HTML paste email.

Example: <a href=”%%ftaf_url%%”>Forward to a Friend</a>

If you choose to have our Design Solutions team build a custom template for you, there’s a good chance we’ve permanently built in this link for your ease of use.

What if I don’t like the term “Forward to a Friend”?

Try something else! I like to recommend “Forward to a Colleague” for B2B clients, and “Send to a Friend” is becoming more prevalent, especially in retail email. As long as it’s appropriate to your subscribers, there are no hard and fast rules – have fun with it!

Andrea Smith
Design Consultant
ExactTarget Campaign Solutions Team

Dreamforce ’14

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  • Kristin Young

    This is interesting. I have a quick question for you. Is there a way to set up the Forward to a Friend feature in a way that people can forward it to a large group of people without having to enter e-mails individually in small batches? Thanks so much!

  • Andrea Smith

    Unfortunately no, you do have to enter each address separately. We don’t have a process to facilitate doing this in batch due to concerns over spam and abuse. Most of the companies that we know of that have implemented "upload your address book" type methods have ended up with deliverability issues for various reasons, or have seen spammers attempt to misuse the functionality.