Email Marketing and Design Tips

These no nonsense email marketing and design tips will help your campaigns look professional, avoid junk folders and keep your subscribers happy. Take a look too at our webpage about free email newsletter templates.

Make your email 80 20 text and images

Combine 80% text and 20% images

Avoid using too many images, especially ones containing text. Some services such as Hotmail and MS Outlook will block images automatically. If your design consists of one or two big images that also contain most of your text, many people won’t be able to read it until they choose to display the images. You may have lost them before they do that.

At the very least, have the essence of your message design as raw text so they can identify you and get the gist of what you’re telling them.

Summarise your content

Create short sub-headings for each article with a link to more information elsewhere, usually on your website or a landing page. This makes it very easy for people to quickly scan your message and decide which bits interest them. Your email marketing metrics will tell you which articles attracted most interest.

Don’t worry about having too many links either. Tests have shown that 25 or more links in an email actually increases the number of clicks.

Put lots of content into a PDF

Deliver lots of content as a downloadable PDF

A PDF is a great way to handle lots of content, and is quicker and easier to design. See the page about creating an email marketing newsletter for more.

Use and customise free templates

The advantage of using free email newsletter templates for your email marketing and design is that they are optimised to display properly in most email accounts. Most good email marketing systems provide them.

The downside is that lots of other businesses will use them too, and you may also have to adapt your content to suit the template design rather than the other way around.

A quick and effective way to customise free templates is to either design and create your own graphics or - even easier - use off-the-shelf graphics or a picture library.

Does your email look good in every in-box?

In-box test

One of the biggest challenges to email marketing and design is ensuring a campaign displays properly no matter how the recipients view it - webmail, Outlook, Lotus, smartphone etc. That’s why it’s crucial to run tests before sending it.

You have two options:

1. Set up dummy email accounts

Scan your marketing list and identify how your customers will see your emails - Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail. If you have business customers, they may be using Outlook, Thunderbird, Lotus etc. Some email marketing systems have a tool to identify these for you.

It takes time and effort to initially set up the dummy accounts and to test each campaign, open and read it in every account, adjust and re-send. But, it is almost certainly the most reliable way to test your design.

2. Use an In-box preview

This is a much quicker and easier way to see how your email marketing and design will look in a wide range of settings. Some of our reviewed email marketing systems have this feature (one of them actually offers it to non-customers), but may charge. Or you can use a stand-alone service such as Litmus.

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It’s the visual appeal of email marketing that makes it so attractive, but ironically it’s displaying the graphics consistently that causes most problems. I reckon a combination of pre-made templates and off-the-shelf graphics offers the best compromise between ease of use and individuality.

You could design your own templates from scratch using the likes of Dreamweaver, but is it worth the effort if you’re sending a campaign once a quarter?

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