The content of your email message is important, but your design is the first element that recipients will see. If you want readers to see your message instead of clicking to the next email, it’s essential to please their eyes and pique their curiosity. Here are a few keys to a winning email design:
1. Make it mobile friendly.
Two out of three emails are opened on a mobile device. Make sure that your email design is based on elements that work well in that environment. Those include large text, small file sizes for images, simplified layouts with plenty of white space, and touch-friendly buttons inside. If you use an image-based header, utilize responsive design to ensure that it shows up well on all screens.
2. Don't rely too heavily on images.
While some Web services load images automatically, many of your recipients will not see images unless they specifically enable this. For these readers, most images will result in a lot of blank white space. Always use alt tags and title tags to ensure that descriptions are still showing up when images don't. And, keep important information in the text of your email so that people don't miss it if images are not appearing. Read your email without the images to make sure that it still communicates well when all you see is text.
3. Make links easy to see and click.
You don't want to annoy recipients by making them hunt for links. At the very least, links should appear in a contrasting color (blue is the classic). Also consider underlining and bolding text links so that they show up easily. Use a combination of image-based buttons and text-based links so that all prospects can see where to click to get to your site. Having multiple links throughout the email makes it easier for prospects to do exactly what you want them to do.
4. Make sure you are CAN-SPAM compliant.
The CAN-SPAM act of 2003 requires that businesses make it simple for readers to stop receiving commercial mailings from you. Include clear instructions in the footer of your email that tell the recipient how to opt out of further mailings. The text should be large and
easy to read. Failing to do this can get your message marked as spam. At the least, you can risk getting sent straight to the junk mail box. In worst-case scenarios, you can be fined for failure to comply.
5. Keep emails short and to the point.
When sending a commercial email, keep it under 300 words. Long emails look unwieldy to the reader and are more likely to get deleted than read. Deliver the hook quickly and follow up as succinctly as possible. Use subheads and bullet points to make it as “scannable” as possible.
6. Skip the spam-oriented words.
Spam filters often look for specific words to determine whether a message should go into the inbox or not. Some of the top spam words that have been identified are:
- $$$, cash, money, cheap
- Work at home, online biz opportunity, make money
- Buy, clearance, order, shop
- Free, f r e e, no cost
Exclamation points and all caps are also common triggers. What’s more, even when these words get past the filter, they can still turn off readers. While it can be hard to avoid every spam word, minimize them wherever possible to increase your chances of getting through. Get creative and find ways to share your message.
7. Test every mailing.
Before any mailing is released to your larger list, send it to a smaller test list to check your results. Open emails in both desktop and mobile browsers -- to ensure that your message looks good across platforms. Garbled messages with weird line breaks and broken images make a poor first impression. Make sure you can get your foot in the door with a professional look from the start.
Email can be one of the most effective tools in your digital marketing kit. However, efficient and pleasing design is vital. Ensure emails are easy to read and pleasant to look at, and you'll see a higher open rate, more click-thrus and happier recipients staying on your list.