(530) 350-8857 services@tacticalma.com
Your Buttons Are Broken: How to Fix Default Act-On Buttons for Outlook

Your Buttons Are Broken: How to Fix Default Act-On Buttons for Outlook

Email development can be one of the most frustrating parts of a marketers day-to-day life. Let me make it easier by solving one of the most common issues that affects many emails rendered in Outlook: The Broken Button.

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before.

It’s 8 A.M.

Your prized email campaign has just launched across 4 different time zones to 500,000 prospective customers.

You’ve done it.  You’ve spent hours of pixel perfect detail work, spent a week reworking copy, sent 25 test messages, looped in other team members for feedback, and even completed a subject line A/B test.

You open up your laptop to see it in your inbox. Right on time. You’ve worked tirelessly for weeks to ensure that this piece of intricate automation delivers your message of marketing gold to every person you can muster. 

Then your sales team complains that the message looks bad

You tested it, you proofed it, you’re whole team looked at it!  What is going on?!

And someone shows you that your beautiful call-to-action (with just the right shade of purple) looks like this in their Outlook inbox:

        What It Looks Like

           What It’s Supposed To Look Like


The Problem is Outlook on a PC

Before we can know the solution, we have to know the problem.

To an email client, your “button” is just a table. This can be present in any tables, including Act-On’s Bullet Proof Buttons. 

Outlook is notorious for ignoring styling within table cells, though it usually works fine on a Mac.  Since most creative teams are Mac users, these issues can be invisible until it lands in an Outlook for PC inbox  (Here is a great article by Litmus on Outlook render issues). In this case, our button is rendering with too much padding on the bottom. It looked sleek and slim in your WYSIWYG editor and on your Mac, but now it is all kinds of sideways. The issue you see above you is caused by a simple issue: Line height.

Line height controls the space around any rendered text. Your call-to-action does in fact have text in it, and that spacing around the text causes what you see.  That table grabs the padding and styling, including the line height. Because the text is telling the table it needs a certain amount of space to exist, the table accommodates by pushing itself way farther out then we actually want the table to be. 

So how do we fix it?

1) Fixing it with native Act-On CSS styling

 In Act-On, Line Height is controlled by the Line Spacing option in the Message Styling tab. Line Height and Line-Spacing are generally coupled together by default.

This issue only appears when the Line Spacing of an email is set to 1 ½ or higher. This is essentially the break point for the button displaying properly in Outlook and can solve the issues in many other popular email clients.

Make sure it’s not set to Default. This can be higher than you expect it to be and cause all sorts of issues.

2) Fixing it in HTML

What if you need a specific line height for the rest of your email? 

In-line CSS allows us to set the line-height for this specific element. We want to set ours to 1.

An example of the code looks like:

<td style=”line-height:1;”>

But it’s never that easy. You can’t just drop that code randomly into your html. You’ll want to make sure the line-height is present on the <td> level. Below is the code for Act-On’s Bulletproof button. (This can be seen by clicking the HTML button in the Rich Text Editor.)

<td class=”aoButtonTable” style=”padding: 10px 20px; text-align: center; background-color: #967bb6; color: #ffffff; border-radius: 0px; -webkit-border-radius: 0px; -moz-border-radius: 0px;”><a class=”aoButtonAnchor” style=”word-break: normal; word-wrap: normal; text-decoration: none; color: #ffffff; font-size: 14px; font-weight: bold; font-family: Arial;” href=”http://” target=”_blank”>SAVE MY SEAT</a></td>

The important bit for our purposes is that <td>. This is the Table Data. If we look to the “style”, we can see all of the styling that is present in the button. There, we can drop our line-height: 1. The end product will look like this: 

<td class=”aoButtonTable” style=”line-height: 1; padding: 10px 20px; text-align: center; background-color: #967bb6; color: #ffffff; border-radius: 0px; -webkit-border-radius: 0px; -moz-border-radius: 0px;”><a class=”aoButtonAnchor” style=”word-break: normal; word-wrap: normal; text-decoration: none; color: #ffffff; font-size: 14px; font-weight: bold; font-family: Arial;” href=”http://” target=”_blank”>SAVE MY SEAT</a></td>

Elements that are styled in-line have priority over styling present in the overall page. If the line-height is set 1 on the <td> level the button will render properly, even with higher Line Spacing. It may need to go on a higher level, but that is very rare.

The great thing about this solution is that it’s marketing program agnostic. This will fix it at the email client’s DNA level.

Side-by-side you can easily see the difference:

         Now it looks right!

        This will never happen again!

Voila! A beautiful button to align with your beautiful messaging!

Now, those two images are taken from my Desktop and were rendered by Outlook.  Did it work on mobile? The only way to be certain that this worked is to test in email client after email client. Even with everything I said, nothing can beat rigorous testing. There’s a litany of services that allow you batch test these things, and I can’t recommend them enough.

Knowing is half the battle. – G.I. Joe

Breathe easy. Now your button has some backbone and can withstand the depths of different email clients. You know that every detail is important to your customers. Make sure your buttons reflect that as well.

Tactical Marketing Automation Announces Master List Creation Tool for Act-On Software

Tactical Marketing Automation Announces Master List Creation Tool for Act-On Software

Simplifies Act-On List Management

Cameron Park, CA, July 10, 2019 (Newswire.com) – Tactical Marketing Automation, LLC., a digital marketing agency specializing in marketing automation consulting and services, has announced the release of Unity List Aggregator (ULA), a Software as a Service (SAAS) application designed to augment the list capabilities of Act-On Software’s marketing automation software.

The ULA application is designed to connect to an Act-On Software customer account using their standard license credentials and extracts all marketing lists in the account. Through a proprietary design, the application allows a user to identify list columns that contain the same data types and then generates a complete master list containing all contact data for that Act-On instance. Furthermore, the application automates the management of adding new contacts to the Act-On Master List.

Tactical Marketing Automation’s CEO, Philip Easley-Bosley said, “Having a master list is a critical component to advanced Act-On marketing automation strategy. In the last year alone, we have worked on nearly 150 different Act-On projects that required creation or management of a master list. With ULA (pronounced yoo-luh), our customers will be able to effectively manage their master lists without investing dozens of hours into the custom process development currently required.”

Shane Wooten, lead developer and co-owner of the ULA application, commented on the product saying, “I’m excited to bring ULA to market, and just as excited about its product road map. We’re really just getting started and already working on our next iterations.”

More information about ULA can be found here.

Tactical Marketing Automation does not represent that ULA is part of the Act-On Software application nor that it is in any way a product affiliated with Act-On Software. As a separate application, Act-On Software provides no support for the ULA product. Act-On Software has not reviewed or endorsed this press release in any way. More information about Act-On Software can be found here.

About Tactical Marketing Automation, LLC.

Tactical Marketing Automation is a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in marketing technologies, including marketing automation platforms. It focuses on developing strategic marketing plans and tactical marketing plans to enhance its customers lead generation, lead nurture, marketing qualification, and sales efforts. Tactical Marketing Automation also provides enhanced reporting services to help its customers turn data into actionable insights and improve business decisions.

Philip Easley-Bosley | Tactical Marketing Automation, LLC. info@tacticalma.com | Office: (530) 350-8857
Corporate website – https://tacticalma.com

Safe Harbor
This press release contains statements, which may constitute “forward-looking statements.” Those statements include statements regarding the intent, belief or current expectations of Tactical Marketing Automation, LLC. and members of its management team as well as the assumptions on which such statements are based. Such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties, and that actual results may differ materially from those contemplated by such forward-looking statements. The Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements to reflect changed assumptions, the occurrence of unanticipated events or changes to future operating results.

Original Source: www.newswire.com

3 Keys to Align Marketing to Your Business

3 Keys to Align Marketing to Your Business

It’s been 7 years since the Fournaise Group published a survey stating that “80% of CEOS admit they do not really trust, and are not very impressed by the work done by Marketers.” It’s an old article that I find immensely insightful in my everyday work and life. In my career, it focused me on the right priorities, making sure that every marketing activity was aligned to the priorities of the CEO.  I had no idea that this simple change would one day lead to the formation of my owner marketing agency and consulting company.

However, just saying “marketing should be aligned to the business objectives” is stupid obvious and very unhelpful.  I’ve never met a marketer who said: “I don’t care about the business I just want to make pretty pictures.” In fact, every marketer I’ve worked with throughout my career has been extraordinarily passionate about their work, the results of their work, and the positive impact it has on the business.

As I take a moment to reflect, I think about some key influencers on my path. Great marketers like who not only taught me skills, they challenged me to be better and think differently. They were passionate about their work, committed to the business, and celebrated by the Sales team. Until the company missed a sales number – then it was their fault. As silly as this is, every marketer has been there; we all know that marketing can sometimes be a frustrating, disheartening, and thankless job. If marketing was easy, there wouldn’t be an entire industry dedicated to it.

It’s my experience that the biggest reason marketers “miss” is because they didn’t know what they were aiming at.  They are told to find leads, and they do, but they aren’t the right people. They are told to find the right people, and they do, but they aren’t converting. They are told to create better-qualified leads, and they do, but it is taking too long.  On and on it goes, such is the nature of poorly defined goals that are not part of a well thought out plan.

So how do we take the statement “Marketing should be aligned to the business objectives” and make this more practical? How do we turn a platitude into a plan? 

1) Executives Set Data Driven Goals

Every successful marketing organization has clear, actionable marketing objectives and it is the role and responsibility of a company executive to set these goals. You don’t have to know how to make it happen.  It will be the job of the marketers to figure out how to do “it”, but it is the executive’s job to define what “it” is.

We have invested a considerable amount of time unpacking this concept substantially in our new whitepaper – Aligning Marketing to Your Business.  The feedback has been excellent and we trust you will also appreciate the insight. 

2) Form a Sales and Marketing Covenant

Neither of these organizations can function without the other.  It is a symbiotic relationship consisting of two partner organizations working together to accomplish the same goal. With the executive goals set, the leaders of these organizations should agree to a strategic marketing plan, a tactical marketing plan, and a specific timeline of execution.  If either party deviates from the plan, they should be proactive and provide this information to the other the way we would in any other healthy relationship.

3) Apply the Science of Marketing

Marketing is to Psychology as Engineering is to Physics.  Humans in a given culture behave predictably, and great marketers know how to use this. Great marketers always define their target audience, always define their buyer’s journey, and always develop tactical marketing plans to target each stage of this journey with relevant content to keep them moving.  When done right, marketing is predictable. Lead generation, opportunity conversion, and customer retention become statistical norms that can be counted on and invested in.

Write it down.  

Formalize the expectations, the strategic plan, the tactical execution plan, the timeline, and the signoff.  These formalities create accountability and unity among companies. If I have helped you, I’m happy, if I have engaged your mind, I’m glad, and as always, if you’d like to entertain hiring Tactical Marketing Automation as your agency, I welcome the call.
3 Act-On Automated Programs You Didn’t Know You Needed

3 Act-On Automated Programs You Didn’t Know You Needed

From time to time I like to geek out on tactical marketing topics, and this is an uber nerd topic relating to my favorite Marketing Automation Platform, Act-On Software.

Also, for some reason I use caps like an old person. It’s late. I’m old. Leave me alone and let me pontificate.

Real Marketing Automation

When most people say “Marketing Automation” they are typically referring to its simplest form of “Email Automation” which is essentially a trigger for set of scheduled messages. While this has some amount of utilitarian value, if that is all you get from your Act-On Marketing Automation efforts, the idea and potential value in marketing automation will soon lose their luster.

As most of my readers know, I had the privilege of working at Act-On for just shy of 5 years and was honored to serve as the Lead Marketing Automation Strategist for much of that time. In this capacity, I was afforded substantial amounts of time to research trends in Act-On and identify opportunity for Act-On customers to enhance their use of marketing automation. It’s no surprise that a significant amount of this time and energy was invested into researching and developing Automated Programs.

Having worked directly with more than 2,000 Act-On accounts and nearly 10,000 Act-On users, I often found myself explain “Marketing Automation isn’t just scheduling email, it is automating your marketing processes so you have time to do more valuable things.”
You see, Act-On isn’t just for scheduling emails. It manages your marketing lists, improves your data, facilitates reporting, and interacts with your human resources.

How? Allow me to share…

Form to Master List Management

 Act-On Forms write to selected Form Submission lists. We very often want to track how many people registered for our Spring Event, so they must go to their own submission list.  But I ALSO want them to go to my Non-CRM Master List.

I could configure a new List Maintenance Program (LMP) every time I build a form, but that is tedious and painful.  Also, the LMP will keep overwriting the original submission data to my Master List every time it runs (e.g. they submit “PHILIP” as their First Name. You scrub the data and change this to proper case “Philip”.  The LMP will keep overwriting the bad data.)

This one is simple.  Use an Automated Program!  All you have to do is add your Form Submission List to the a single Act-On Automated Program.

May have mentioned this… any time an event should occur one time, you should always use an Automated Program.  In this case the logic is simple:

Automated Program Source List:
Each new Form Submission List

AP Workflow:
Copy to Non-CRM Master List

Marketing Stage or Sales Stage Management

 Many people use List Maintenance Programs (LMP) for this, and that’s just inviting disaster.  For example, imagine a lead hits a target Marketing Qualified Lead Score of 40 points. They enter a segment and an LMP sets their Sales Stage to MQL.  Job done, right?

Except sales takes the lead and sets the Sales Stage to “SQL” because they are pursuing the opportunity.  That night, your LMP changes the Sales Stage BACK TO MQL!

 Anytime an event should occur one time, you should always use an Automated Program.  In this case the logic is simple:

Automated Program Source List:
Segment: MQL (Lead Score = 40+)

AP Workflow:
Change Field Sales Stage to MQL

Reporting Augmentation

This one is similar to Stage Management but serves an entirely different purpose.  At Tactical Marketing Automation, we believe “Everything is a funnel.” Call us old school.

Marketing = Funnel

Sales = Funnel

Prospecting = Funnel

Going to lunch?  FUNNEL.

In our workflows, when someone enters a funnel stage they start a stream of emails designed to move them through that stage and advance them towards qualification.  We typically have 3 stages before MQL.

Here’s the problem, I like reports.  I use them to make better decisions. Act-On doesn’t do that.

(Before someone comments about the native “Funnel Reports” – it’s an abomination.  You don’t know what you’re talking about.)

So the fix is easy.

When someone enters one of my email workflows, I set their current stage in a field.  I also note this as their “Previous Stage” immediately before they leave. Now I’m tracking what stage are they in, and what stage did they come from.  To get even slicker, I create counters that increment by 1 each day which gives me the ability to track exactly how long they were in that stage.

Then I create reports like this… Well, I don’t, Mike does.  He’s cool like that.


I believe most things are possible in Act-On.  I regularly solve “impossible problems” in hour long consulting calls that I do for free.  I can admit it, I’m better at marketing automation than I am at sales (that’s why I have Stu).

Act-On is not perfect but damn, it’s powerful, and I love it.

About Phil Bosley

Philip, CEO, has nearly 20 years of marketing experience and has served as a consultant, advisor, and resource for thousands of companies like yours.

4 Very Simple But Very Helpful Everyday Marketing Tools

4 Very Simple But Very Helpful Everyday Marketing Tools

Marketing is a field made up of about 85 different disciplines rolled into one job title.  Other departments think of marketers as wizards who have mastered all the arts. They don’t even know fire wizards don’t like the cold.

Take me for example, I’m strategy, operations, and tech.  I’m pretty sure my application developer is color blind, and I’m not all together certain my graphic designer knows what a funnel is.

Unless you’re a magical marketing unicorn, you probably have some skill set gaps.  Hopefully one of these tools will make your day just a tad bit easier.



Many marketers have developed skills to write great copy, but that doesn’t mean their proofreading is always up to par.  In fact, if you’re like me, you’ve read something 7,000 times before you publish it and don’t see the typo until the moment after you’ve hit “send”.

Grammarly is a great free tool that layers into any browser based interface and highlights the mistakes for you so that you can fix them.  It does more than spell check and is a must have for anyone who frequently writes copy.



I remember I used Red (#FF0000) in a presentation and my Graphic Designer told me it made his “eyes vibrate”. He suggested I used a contrasting orange as a highlight and so I did (#FFA500).  That was also wrong and he explained I was supposed to use a specific Dark Orange (#FE8C00).

For those of us who didn’t memorize color wheels, it’s all about Paletton.  This handy browser tool let’s me drop in a base hex color and creates entire color palettes with easy to copy hex or RGB color codes.



If you’re a single person marketing team, two things are almost certainly true. No one actually understands what you do and they definitely don’t give you enough budget to do it.

Free stock images sites come in handy when you need a great image on a limited budget and Max Pixel is my go to source for free stock photos.



I was recently asked “If blacklists are so common, why aren’t more people concerned?”  My answer was sad, “Because they don’t know they are blacklisted.”

If you send email, blacklist monitoring is critical.  The fastest, easiest way to monitor your listings is to drop your domain into the MX Toolbox Blacklist checker.  If you are listed, it will link you to the appropriate delist tool so you can get your reputation back on track.



Why am I advertising for these companies? Was I paid? Nah, I’m just a beggar telling another beggar where I found bread. 

Every now and then you find a few tools that make your day a little easier, hopefully something on this list will help you.

If you’re still reading – my favorite tool is ColorPick Eyedropper which helps me easily select and copy any color from a webpage.  Very handy when I need to remember the hex code from my web font and don’t want to dig out my brand guideline doc.  Check it out below.

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Choosing the Right Charts for Your Custom Marketing Reporting

Choosing the Right Charts for Your Custom Marketing Reporting

Data Visualization is the creative side of reporting. It’s the pretty charts and graphs that your colleagues “ooo” and “aww” over in your team meetings, and if done right, you can set the standard by which other departments are measured. However, many marketers are not also data analysts and therefore struggle to develop effective data visualizations for their reports.  Consider this example: Mary wanted to show the revenue generated from her marketing campaigns with an emphasis on which campaigns had contributed most significantly to accomplishing their companies quarterly revenue goals. She had tracked and measured the data, but the monochromatic bar chart she used just didn’t seem to tell the story. After a brief consultation, she realized that since her goal was “to compare the success of campaigns” a visualization highlighting comparison was more appropriate, in this case, a pie chart.  While either would work, the pie chart is more effective and helping others understand the data by representing the relative contribution visually.

So what graph should I use?

There are many, many ways to visualize data and what you should use depends largely on your audience and the meeting context.  Many marketers have had their data challenged due to a lack of granularity, and many have had ignored because it was too specific or jargony.  The most important thing is that your data visualization be effective! Here are some basic considerations* for determining the type of chart you should use:

Line graph

Line graphs are used to track changes over short and long periods of time. When smaller changes exist, line graphs are better to use than bar graphs. Line graphs can also be used to compare changes over the same period of time for more than one group.

Pie Chart

Pie charts are best to use when you are trying to compare parts of a whole. They do not show changes over time.

Bar Graph

Bar graphs are used to compare things between different groups or to track changes over time. However, when trying to measure change over time, bar graphs are best when the changes are larger.

Area Graph

Area graphs are very similar to line graphs. They can be used to track changes over time for one or more groups. Area graphs are good to use when you are tracking the changes in two or more related groups that make up one whole category (for example public and private groups).

X-Y Plot

X-Y plots are used to determine relationships between the two different things. The x-axis is used to measure one event (or variable) and the y-axis is used to measure the other. If both variables increase at the same time, they have a positive relationship. If one variable decreases while the other increases, they have a negative relationship. Sometimes the variables don’t follow any pattern and have no relationship.


We hope this information has been helpful.  Data Analysis and Visualization are an entire field on their own.  We have not tried to be exhaustive. As always, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!
*Source: https://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/help/user_guide/graph/help_menus.asp