Email design is a tricky thing. Put too much work into it and it might cause compatibility issues. Put too little and it looks bland. There are so many factors that go into email design and that means there are so many things that can go wrong. Use these tips to make your email design the best it can be, while dodging the dreaded email that reaches the recipient’s inbox mutilated beyond repair.
- Shorten Your Links
Let’s be real. When your monster of a link is hidden behind your HTML, it seems totally fine. But what happens to it when your recipient sees it in plain text? They see that behemoth in all its glory. Who wants to click that? Or even just see that? No one. I know that for sure. It also can cause deliverability issues, making it well worth your time to shorten it up.
- View in Browser
You created a really pretty email. It’s visually stunning, but something about it doesn’t work in your recipient’s outdated email client. What’s a designer to do? If they don’t want to see your email, that’s one thing, but what if they REALLY do? That’s why you include a “view in browser” link, which will allow the recipient to view your email the way you intended.
You need to make sure that your email designs fall in line with your brand, this can be achieved in a couple ways.
Match your emails to your website. That’s the easiest way to make sure that your design helps build your brand image, as opposed to muddling it. It is also worth mentioning that, while you might want to make everything colorful in your emails, simple is best and too much color will overwhelm your audience. Especially if your text is colored. Keep it simple and you’ll avoid looking spammy.
- Logo location
It’s obvious that your logo should accompany any email your brand releases. But did you ever consider that the location might matter? Putting your logo in the same place for every email works sort of like your logo on letterhead, branding it as yours.
- No Fancy Fonts
It might be tempting to make your email more beautiful by inserting fonts that are more interesting than the typical ones. Don’t do it. There is a reason that there are standard fonts and it’s because not every email client has the ability to support all those fancy fonts you pulled. Instead, use the classics, the standard fonts that will show up properly. These include: Calibri, Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia, Helvetica, Verdana, and Tahoma.
- Tell a Story
I know this article is about design, but I have to say it. Make sure that the actual words in your email are good. Tell a story, don’t just deliver a message.
- Making the Preview Pane
Make sure that your call to action and key copy is located in the top left of your email. This ensures that it shows up in the preview pane on most email clients. Without this, you risk your email showing up with a link to an image or something equally unreadable in the preview pane.
- Make Your Call-to-Action Large and Obvious
Most people are scanners. They don’t want to spend their time skimming through blocks of text to find the point of your email. That’s why you make your call-to-action large and clear, so that it is impossible to miss. In addition, make sure to repeat it. Don’t make someone scroll back to the top of the email they just read through when you could just repeat the call to action at the bottom. It will make your email that much more effective.
- This Isn’t a Website
Make sure that your email doesn’t resemble a website. Though it may be tempting, many recipients are likely to view your email on their phones, which results in all of those HTML elements getting stacked, making your email go on for miles.
- Absolute Links
Don’t leave this one up to fate. Make sure that any images you use in your emails are hosted on your website. This ensures that the image will definitely be there if someone wants to view it. Otherwise you are at the mercy of others as to whether or not the image you want lands in your recipient’s inbox.
- Plan for No Images
As sad as this might make you, know that most of the time no one is going to see the stunning images that you picked out for the email. Why? Because most email clients are set to block images and they need to be manually enabled so you can view them. So make sure that your email is not totally image-based and at least has some decent, plain text content to back it up. Go for a 50/50 ratio for text and images. If you have too many images then the spam filters will likely catch your email, meaning it will never reach your recipient’s inbox.
- Make Sure They Load
It might be tempting to load a giant image into your email, after all, they look so beautiful in high resolution. Avoid that temptation. If the images are too large, they won’t load properly, quickly or at all. That defeats the purpose. If someone goes through the effort of opening your images, they actually want to see them.
- Background Images – Like many any other images, don’t set up your email to depend on them. If you want to set a background, leave it at simply a color but not an image. Preferably gray, which is easy to read. Make sure to not fall into the trap of putting white text over a black background, it may seem high contrast but in reality it is just hard to read.
Now, these tips seem all well and good, but make sure to back them up using an email testing software like Litmus or something similar. I’ve also included links to some related sources, so you can enjoy even more amazing tips for awesome email design.
- 28 Tips for Designing Effective HTML Emails
- 10 Email Marketing Design Tips
- 17 Do’s and Don’ts for Designing Inbox-Optimized Email Templates
- 9 Tips for Email Marketing Design
Are you a designer? Are you having problems with your email design? Have you found one tip that made your email designs better than ever? Give us your thoughts in the comments section.