Despite rumors to the contrary, email endures as one of the most effective tactics in the marketer’s toolbox. But effectiveness with email comes down to just one thing: How to design an email that people want to read. That’s exactly what I’m going to tell you how to do.
If you want your email to be opened, two things matter most: Your subject line and the content in the body of your email. No one has time to waste clicking on and reading emails that don’t deliver value. And while subject line and body content are important, they aren’t the only two things that impact the effectiveness of your email campaigns. The design of your email template also has a big impact on the overall effectiveness of your email campaigns.
From the subject line, to the number of hyperlinks, right through to how it appears on a mobile device—every little detail plays an important part in constructing a message the recipient will click through to read, and even better, one that will compel them to action.
Campaign Monitor and Really Good Emails have put together a comprehensive infographic checklist to guide you along the way to designing a winning email. Here are some of the key tips you need to keep in mind, together with some links to other helpful resources. You can find the full infographic at the end of the post.
Before the recipient even gets to read your killer email, you have to inspire sufficient interest to get beyond the inbox subject line, the preview pane, or the email client description.
Not yet a master of email segmentation? Learn more about segmentation with my recent article The Key to Email Delivery: Segmentation over on the V3B blog. You can also get the lowdown on dynamic email targeting at How Dynamic Email Targeting Will Change Everything, over on the IMA blog.
The layout of the email should be planned to assist the reader to know what they should read first, and where they go from there, preferably to your call-to-action. Layout can vary from a straightforward single column design, through an angular “zig-zag” pattern, to an inverted pyramid designed to guide the reader to a click through. This example from Campaign Monitor illustrates how this might work.
Image source: Campaign Monitor
Email width should be considered to ensure your message is rendered successfully across a range of email clients. A range of 600 to 640 pixels is recommended.
Adding visual elements to emails can help your message to stand out from the crowd.
Images. Use only images that will complement your message rather than adding related images just for effect. Images should be brand specific and created specifically for the campaign where possible. If not, be sure to source images from good quality premium sites rather than relying on free stock photos, which might dilute the impact of the message. Keep these technical requirements in mind as well:
Video. The engaging and entertaining nature of video makes it ideal for use in email marketing campaigns. It shouldn’t be assumed however, that video plays automatically in an email, as we have become accustomed to with our favorite social platforms.
Video can be linked to ahost site, such as You Tube or Vimeo, by way of a play button added on top of a static image. Alternatively, for those with the technical expertise, video can be embedded using HTML allowing the video to play within the email itself with a limited number of email clients (Apple Mail, Thunderbird, iOS 10 Native Client, and Samsung Galaxy Native Client as at February 2017). The rest will display a fallback image.
Animated GIF. An attractive alternative to video is to add an animated GIF. Campaign Monitor recommends keeping it short and simple, and limiting file size to 1MB to be effective.
Consumers are increasingly likely to be opening, and crucially engaging with emails on their mobile devices. This is a dynamic you can read more about by way of my article: Email Marketing is Alive and Well as Volumes Increase and Kinetic Excites.
Optimizing emails to be mobile friendly is of critical importance to marketers. Messages should be coded to be responsive or, if coding expertise isn’t available should make use of a mobile friendly template.
Optimization for mobile can be quite an exact science, as Campaign Monitor illustrated with the theory behind designing a clear and easy to use CTA button.
“According to a recent MIT study, the average size of an adult index finger is between 1.6cm and 2 cm, which translates to between 45 x 45px and 57 x 57px on a mobile device.”
Typically buttons should be around 50 pixels tall to allow for easy tapping.
They may be described as finishing touches but they are no less important to the effectiveness of your message. Here are things to keep in mind?
It’s important to bear in mind that your email can have more of an impact than just on the potential for a sale, and for your future relationship with the customer. The actions the recipient takes, such as opening, clicking on links, or maybe even marking as spam can have a big impact on the deliverability of future email campaigns. Find out more about these critical elements of email effectiveness at Three Steps to Improve Email Deliverability—Because an Undelivered Email is Worth Zilch.
I hope these tips about the important things to remember in email marketing will help with your own campaigns. The full infographic follows as promised.
What’s going on with your email marketing efforts? I’d love to hear the challenges you face and the questions you have. I’m pretty good at this kind of thing. I promise that if you’ve got a question, I can probably help.
This article was first published on Integrated Marketing Association.