Once upon a time, email marketing was limited to what you could do with plain text and perhaps a few images. Email has changed a lot since then, however, and there are a lot of resources available to help bring your emails to life. One of the big advances that can really take your email to the next level is the ability to use HTML and CSS to shape your emails in much the same way you would design a website. There are some obvious advantages to this:

  • More engaging emails that mean more customer engagements
  • Emails that can remotely access data or images from your server, letting you provide some important information to customers in real time
  • Links that are easier and more appealing to encourage customer click-throughs
  • Analytics code that can give you information about email opens and other activities

There are a number of other advantages as well, provided that you know HTML and CSS. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself at a significant disadvantage against competitors who do. Fortunately, there are a number of resources online to help you learn and master HTML and CSS. While there are some excellent paid courses, for now we’ll focus on only those tutorials, courses and guides that you can access for free.

Let’s Make a Website

If you’re new to HTML and CSS, this seven-part tutorial is a great place to start. As you complete the various parts, you’ll learn all the basics of building websites using HTML and CSS. You’ll even get to code your own Pokémon Pokédex as a project to put those new skills to the test. Many of the skills you learn here are directly applicable to email design as well, teaching you to combine images, text and other content in ways that are visually appealing using nothing but HTML and CSS code.

Introduction to HTML and Learn CSS

These courses are offered by Codecademy and cover all the essentials of using HTML and CSS. Each course is broken down into a number of lessons, and you’ll go through each lesson a few actions at a time. There are additional resources available to paid Codecademy subscribers, but these basic courses are available to everyone for free. While not explicitly email-focused, the two courses will cover everything you need to know to craft well-designed emails using HTML and CSS code.

Learn to Code HTML & CSS and Learn to Code Advanced HTML & CSS

This pair of courses walks you through the fundamentals of HTML and CSS to teach you web design basics, then continues into some more advanced topics as well. The courses are designed by Shay Howe, a professional designer and front-end developer who is also the author of the book Learn to Code HTML & CSS. While some of the topics included in the tutorials will be more than you need for email design, mastering them will ensure that you can not only craft expert emails but also design landing pages or other web assets.

W3Schools.com for HTML and CSS

If you’re looking for an amazing free resource to learn HTML, CSS or a number of other internet-focused programming languages, W3Schools is a must-visit destination. These free tutorials cover a wide range of HTML and CSS uses, teaching you everything you need to know for email creation and more. It can also provide you with a resource to branch out into other web technologies such as JavaScript to use alongside your HTML and CSS skills.

HTML Cheat Sheet

If you already know some HTML, the HTML Cheat Sheet will ensure that you don’t have to struggle to remember the tags. The website is a guide to every tag used within HTML, letting you scroll through to find exactly what you need. With a single click, you’ll have all of the info on how the tag is used so you won’t have to fumble with formatting. This is especially useful if you’re still in the process of learning HTML or if your coding skills have gotten a bit rusty over the years.

CSS Cheat Sheet

Along the same lines, OnBlastBlog created an easy CSS reference in the form of the CSS Cheat Sheet. Available both as an online resource and as a downloadable PDF, the cheat sheet lists and organizes all of the possible CSS tags as well as their possible modifiers. At the bottom of the page, they’ve even included some notes on basic CSS usage to help ensure that everything is formatted and saved correctly after you write your code.

Learning More

As you can see, there is a wealth of information online to help you master HTML and CSS to empower your marketing emails. If these resources don’t cover the specific information you need, consider checking YouTube or searching for free tutorials using your preferred search engine. There are also a number of books available on the topic, many of which are written by experts in the field. Regardless of your need, you should be able to find the information to improve your skills and help you build better emails.