Email Marketing

Gmail clipping: The four questions you need to ask

A while back Gmail quietly introduced a new feature to their email service known as “clipping”: when an email message starts to get too long, Gmail pulls out the digital scissors and clips it. As of recently, “clipping” has become a lot more impactful due to the proliferation of mobile, the various international email regulations, and the importance of accurately tracking ROI. While this change has largely gone unnoticed and has not generated much media attention, there are a few questions our clients have brought up over the last year:

Does ‘clipping’ affect the way my email renders in GMAIL?

Some might worry that their hard work will not be seen in full but even if “clipped”, Google still allows the user to access the entire message. The “clipping” function places a limit on the size of an email and if a message exceeds this limit, GMAIL condenses it and makes the full version accessible behind a “View entire Message” link.

This is essentially a haircut for your email message – it might cause concern for some marketers but the good news is that clipping preserves the integrity of the message by only cutting characters, not images.

In case you’re wondering, a message is clipped if it exceeds 102Kb.

Best Practice: If possible, limit the size of your message – it’s two birds with one stone:

  • Your message doesn’t get clipped
  • Your content remains concise and to-the-point.

Something to keep in mind is that the character count doesn’t include anything that Gmail strips, so characters in angle brackets <> within the HTML code do not count towards the 102kb limit.

If the design of my message is preserved, even if the message is clipped, should I be worried about anything else?

YES – tracking.

If your tracking link is located at the bottom of your message and your message exceeds 102 Kb, then it will be clipped and, as a result, your tracking link will not load and metrics like opens and clicks will not be recorded.

To confirm this, we used Data Axle’s Pixel Tracking code, which tracks a user’s actions within a message. If the code was placed within the clipped part of an email, data was not captured, ultimately rendering the tracking code useless. When the Pixel Tracking code was placed closer to the top of the message (for instance, in the header), clipping did not affect tracking.

Clipping will affect email performance only if the tracking pixel is located at the bottom of the email.

Best Practice: When creating your content, be sure to have both the tracking pixel and the unsubscribe link at the top of the email, it could even be in the header. By doing so, you will ensure that they will be unaffected if a message is clipped by Gmail. The reason the unsubscribe link should also be at the top is that, if an email recipient wants to unsubscribe and is unable to locate the appropriate link, he will most likely mark the message as spam.

Does clipping work differently on mobile vs desktop devices?

While, on a desktop, Gmail clips an email if it’s larger than 102Kb, this limit drops down to 20Kb for mobile devices. The reason for this significant decrease is the comparatively lesser power of the mobile application, which can cause considerable delays when loading larger files.

Best Practice: Know your audience – if a considerable segment of your recipients view and interact with your emails on a mobile device, we recommend keeping your message under 20Kb. This could be a two-birds-one-stone scenario:

  • You spend less time and resources on a long message
  • You reduce the user’s bandwidth costs by limiting the size of the email that needs to load.

With the difference in ISP management and regulation between the US and the rest of the world, most notably Europe, does Gmail clipping create an issue when mailing to non-US-based recipients?

In short, it seems so.

We discovered that when a message is clipped, a number of Europe-based ISPs cause the message to bulk a.k.a. land in the spam folder which makes our recommendation to keep emails under 102 Kb even more important for marketers that mail internationally.

Kris Sakaluk
Sr. Analyst, Intelligence Products

As a key analyst within Yes Marketing's Intelligence Products team, Kris is constantly engaged with marketers of all shapes and sizes, and is constantly helping them build and execute effective marketing strategies. Kris’ abilities to help Intelligence Products customers maximize their reachable audiences successfully and grow across the various social channels has left him an integral part of Yes Marketing's Intelligence team.