Level Up Your Email Designs, Part 1

Email clients are years, sometimes even a decade behind the current versions of the most popular browsers. This is important to remember when coding out an email, but that won’t stop us from finding creative ways to jump through the hoops to deliver modern email designs.

  1. Simplify your messages
  • What’s the real reason you are sending this email? Focus on that!
  • Engage interest with short, easy-to-read and relevant copy.
  • Links used within the email content encourage the recipient to click-through to a website or landing page for more information, and allowing you to keep your copy simple.
  1. Craft a great subject line
  • Subject lines greater than 50 characters are likely to be cut off, particularly on mobile devices where a large percentage of email opens take place.
  • Your audience is literally bombarded with email advertisements. Be compelling and unique to set yourself apart from the competition.
  • Punctuation isn’t important in the subject, but personalization is. Madison Logic reports that “users are 22% more likely to open an email if they are addressed by their first name.” (Extra points if you include other personalized information like their city, which increases the likelihood of the email being opened.)
  1. Assume that your recipients won’t see any images
  • Add alternate text (ALT tags) to all images for recipients that can’t view images. Mobile screens are a prime example. This is critical if images are being used for calls to action.
  • Loading your email design with large images slows down load time and causes readers to stop reading. Think of data plans and how each image impacts how “expensive” your email is to view.
  • Avoid rich media and forms. I recommend to NEVER use forms, flash, gradients, nested background colors, background images in DIV tags or TABLE cells in emails.
  1. Take a walk in their shoes
  • How many non-personal emails do you really read? Exactly.  Now you know what you are up against, so make sure your content is worth their time.
  • Test your email with images turned on and off, plain text, as well as in as many different email clients as you can. This makes sure they will see your email the way you designed.
  • Send a test out to a colleague and then ask them “what really stood out to you?” This will make sure your text was engaging so that they actually read it and also offers a new perspective.

Stay tuned for Part 2 which focuses on design specifications.

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