From snazzy subject lines to appropriate segmentation, there are so many factors that contribute to a successful email marketing campaign. One incredibly important element is the actual design of the email. A good email design can mean the difference between getting the subscriber to read your content and engage with your brand or simply close the message. With that said, let’s take a look at eight elements that help make up a successful email design.
Design Element 1 — Adhere to Brand Standards
If you have a company, you should have standards for your company’s brand — even if you are a company of one. Brand standards set the tone and feel of your company. They set expectations for the consumer. Consumers like to have expectations set and met for them when interacting with brands. I’m not just talking about your logo, although by all means, stay consistent with that, too! Fonts, colors, spacing, headers and footers all go into brand standards. The more consistent you are, the more easily recognizable your emails will be to your subscriber. The more easily recognizable you are, the more likely the subscriber is to trust you and open the email, which is the first challenge of any email marketing campaign.
Design Element 2 — Learn to Share
The world we live in is a social one. To get the most out of your email marketing message, make sure you have social sharing enabled. That is, of course, if you are actually on social media. If you aren’t yet, then it is time to read this. But, if you are, optimize the oomph by including a way for your subscribers to share your email marketing content on their social networks.
Design Element 3 — Ensure an Alternate View
Obviously your goal is to have your email read, and to do that, the subscriber needs to be able to see something. If your email is mainly comprised of images, which many marketing emails are these days, it is extremely important to also have alt text filled in so that if an email client (Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, etc.) blocks your images or if a subscriber has their images turned off, your message can still be read, if only in text form. Additionally, many email service providers offer not just HTML-formatting but text and rich text formats as well. Having all of this formatting enabled gives your email the best chance of literally being seen by the most subscribers.
Design Element 4 — Focus on Fonts
I’m no graphic designer, as my design team will attest to, but I do know a few things about fonts. For one, designers hate Comic Sans. (If you want to make a designer mad, ask for something in Comic Sans and then stand back and wait for meltdown.) Two, too many fonts in one email design is distracting, confusing and ineffective. Use, at most, 3 fonts in the entire design. Any more will be distracting. Most body copy for emails is set in a generic sans-serif, like Arial or Trebuchet. Always remember to abide by brand standards when selecting fonts. Most companies employ a branding guide to help designers stay within the brand standards.
Design Element 5 — Work with White Space
Too often the urge to cram a bunch of stuff into a small space can occur with an email message. “Add this, add that — oh, make sure to add a call-out about this, too.” Having too much content and too many design elements leads to a diluted message and a distracting design. Embrace the white space and give your email design room to breathe.
Design Element 6 — Create a Compelling Offer
It usually comes down to this: the offer. Even the most beautifully designed email will have lackluster results if the offer is not compelling. That doesn’t mean you have to have a massive sale advertised in every email you send. It simply means that you need to present your message in a way that is so interesting, so exciting, so relevant to them, that the subscribers must act in the way you want them to. That could be clicking through to your eCommerce site, clicking through and reading a blog article, or sharing something on Pinterest. But the payout for the subscriber must be clearly communicated, or why else would they do it?
Design Element 7 — Highlight a Clear CTA
A compelling offer’s BFF is a clear CTA (call to action). They go together like peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, peas and carrots — okay, maybe I’m just hungry. But, seriously, they do go together. Because, of course, without clear direction as to where to “go” or what to “do,” your subscriber will be stumped. Stymied. Stupified. Then, they will close the email. Because, ain’t nobody got time to try to figure out what you want them to do. So, just tell them — clearly and concisely.
Design Element 8 — Show Them, Don’t Tell Them
Okay, I know I just said to tell them, but what I really meant was SHOW them. Some companies and brands use lengthy copy to get their points across, but the vast majority of email subscribers are scrolling through their inbox and are not going to waste time reading a lot of copy. Hook them with a beautifully designed email, intrigue them with your offer and then convert them with a CTA that is quickly and readily apparent.
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