19 Apr 10 Best Practices to Design Emails
No.1 Design for the Top 600 Pixels by Three Inches
Your email will most likely need to sell itself within an email preview pane no matter what email service provider it’s sent to. You’ll have about 600 pixels of length across and about three inches of depth. You need to make sure that your value proposition, your call-to-action, and any key information that will compel users to keep reading is in that space. Avoid heavy use of email graphicsthat may not load when designing the email preview pane section of an email template.
No.2 Make Links Look Like Links
If you want the best click-through possible, you’ll want to make your links in email not only look like links but also stand out. At a minimum, links in your email should always be underlined. Ideally, links will be formatted in a blue font and will also be bolded. If your style guidelines prohibit links from being bold or blue, make sure that they are underlined. Do not ever use images or buttons to denote a link or, if you do, make sure that there is a corresponding text link nearby.
No.3 Minimize the Use of Images
While images do have unquestionable visually compelling results, always remember that in the vast majority of your subscribers email service providers inboxes images will not load. The more you use images, the more that the vast majority of your email subscribers will see blank white space. While you certainly want to include some images for those who can see them, don’t rely on images alone to sell your product or convey your message. Be sure that any information that it is critical that your subscriber knows is not trapped in an image. Always use alt and title text behind images to ensure that there is still copy appearing even when your images do not load.
No.4 Minimize Copy and Text
Obviously, your email must contain copy and textThat’s the core of any email. However, you never want to include so much text that you may risk going into a spam folder or junk folder, and you don’t want to overwhelm users with more text than they can read. User shorter text blocks that link back to full articles or product pages on your website or to landing pages.
No.5 Be CAN-SPAM Complaint
While this is a best practice, it’s also the law. You’ll need to ensure that your physical mailing address is in the email, that users can unsubscribe from your email with either a single click or by replying to the email, and that the email in some way conveys that it is an advertisement. If you’re confused about CAN-SPAM, you may want to revisit the section in this book dedicated to it.
No.6 Make it Easy to Unsubscribe
While this may seem counterintuitive, the risk of making it difficult for users to find a way to unsubscribe from your email is that they will instead mark your email as spam. This will impact your sender reputation and deliverability in the future. Make it easy and simple for users to find a way to unsubscribe from your email so that they don’t hit the always easy-to-find “spam” button!
No.7 Personalize Subject Lines and Email Content
With very few exceptions, emails will perform better when you use a personalization field such as first name or user name in the subject line and body of the email. The one exception is if your industry deals in private or personal information where your users may feel uncomfortable seeing their name or user name in the subject line or body of the email. Be sure to find an email marketing platform such as Comm100 that supports email personalization features. Then use them to increase both your open rate and your click-through rate.
No.8 Avoid Using CSS
As “old school” as it sounds, your email template design is unlikely to translate across multiple email service providers if you code it using CSS. Many email service providers, and Gmail in particular, strip CSS from the <body> and <head> sections of your email template. If you must use CSS to code, make it inline CSS. However, using <font> and <p> tags within your email template will produce a far more consistent design and display.
No.9 Minimize the Use of Spam Words
As you will see in the next section of this book, it will most likely be impossible for you to completely avoid using any word that has been identified as a potential spam trigger word. However, be aware when creating copy that spam filters look for particular words and will assign your email a spam score based on them. The best thing that you can do is to use those words in moderation and write copy that avoids using them at all when possible.
No.10 Always Test
While we think that it’s important for you to test various email designs against each other, what we’re referring to here is that you test send your emails to a smaller seed list of recipients prior to sending them to your entire list. This will ensure that you get a chance not only to make sure that your design displays appropriately across multiple email service providers but also to make sure that you’re going into the inbox instead of the spam or junk folder. You can then make adjustments so that when you do you send to your main list, your email is optimized for the best results possible. Ten minutes of testing can save hours of crisis management!