8 Essential Email Design Best Practices

As more marketers realize the outstanding ROI potential of email, inboxes continue to get increasingly crowded and competitive. Here are eight email design tips to help your organization’s email campaigns cut through the inbox clutter and drive powerful conversions.

  1. Let your graphic design guide the reader’s eye with conversion as your primary goal.
    The following are a few ways to ensure your message is easy to scan and leads to your call-to-action:

    • Balance the amount of text and images
    • Don’t clutter your copy with multiple calls-to-action
    • Keep the call-to-action above the fold
    • Have the eye-path lead to the call-to-action by placing important content in an F-shaped pattern: Readers typically view the headline first, and then the text down the side, ending with the middle section of text.
  2. Include social media links.
    Get subscribers to help you spread your message by including social sharing icons to popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn in your emails. According to a study by GetResponse, emails that included at least three social network links got more than 55% higher click-through rates compared to messages without any social sharing icons.
  3. Don’t depend on images to communicate your message.
    Images embedded in an email are often blocked by default, which means recipients must download images for each email to display the images. So be sure the email communicates your message, even when images aren’t displayed. That means all images should have alt tags to show any text that appears in the images.
  4. Design with the preview pane in mind.
    Found in many of the widely used email clients today, the preview pane is the window below the inbox that previews your email. As you design your emails, be sure the preview pane engages recipients by:

    • Aligning the critical information to the left
    • Making sure the main purpose of your email, the call-to-action, and your company’s logo are visible (located in the top 300 pixels).
  5. Watch the width.
    Keep in mind that many people view their emails in the preview panel. Since the smallest average preview panel is typically between 550 and 600 pixels wide, you should design your emails accordingly. You may even want to consider narrower to accommodate mobile browsers.
  6. Be aware of your file sizes.
    Loading email messages with large images can slow the download for recipients, which may frustrate them enough not to read your email at all. Plus, large mails can be flagged as spam in some cases. So use plain text to communicate your message, and experiment with different formats such as GIF and JPG to get the best image quality and the smallest file size.
  7. Avoid embedding rich media and interactive forms.
    Rich media such as flash or animated GIFs may provide a creative experience for recipients, but it also significantly increases the file size of your emails. If interactive forms are an integral part of your email campaign, provide links from your email to a separate website, rather than embed them in your email. Many email clients will also break forms, so they may not work anyway.
  8. Create a mobile-friendly version of your email.
    To grab subscribers who want to view your emails on their mobile devices, provide a link up front to a mobile-friendly version of your email. And, if your website can detect the device or mobile browser, be sure that all subsequent landing pages are also optimized for the mobile environment. An interesting statistic for marketers that highlights the growing use of mobile devices to access the Internet comes from a 2010 survey by eMarketer. In the survey, 35% of U.S. web-enabled mobile phone users reported using their mobile phones to shop, up from 17% the year before.

When it comes to email design today, compliance with such trends as mobile marketing and social media is paramount. And testing your emails — for appearance in different email clients and to be sure they aren’t getting caught in the spam filters — is the best way to evaluate whether your email design is truly effective.

Do you need help designing your next email campaign? Email the experts at FulcrumTech, or give us a call today at 215-489-9336, and we’ll help you take your email marketing to the next level.

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