James has six years' experience as a Content Marketer, bylines on Left Foot Forward, Submittable, and INOMICS, and a Master's in History. In his free time he likes to read, play guitar, and write for his personal blog.
The average person receives more than 56 emails per day. Email marketing is a difficult job for this very reason - every day is an incessant fight for consumer attention.
In this bloody battleground of email filters and spam folders, how do you ensure your email gets through to the user?
How do you ensure they click on it? In other words, how do you make your message so appealing, so useful, that your users have no choice but to open it?
Adding the logo of the brand, using the brand’s color palette, and incorporating brand-aligned copy to your marketing emails are all effective ways to inspire clicks and action. Yet, to create truly branded emails, more substantial efforts are needed.
Use colors wisely. Colors elicit very specific emotions. As you brand your email, make sure the logo colors are conveying the exact emotions you want. For example, if you are sending a summer catalog, use happy and bright shades but ensure they don’t collide with your brand logo.
Place the logo prominently. The perfect place for your brand logo is above the fold - but don’t forget the footer. Ensure your logo is there next to all your social media buttons.
Follow a consistent design. Your image sizes, fonts, colors, borders, size and design of your button, and every other feature must follow a consistent style.
To breeze through a crowded email inbox, branding works as a potent tool. Use it well to increase trust and the likelihood of being clicked on.
Choose a contextual layout
How you lay your email design out is critically important. Depending on the purpose of your email campaign, you can choose between a few layout styles for maximum impact.
For example, if you are sending a welcome email as a new brand or to a new consumer, keep it short and sweet with an inverted triangle layout with to-the-point messaging.
If you are sending an email newsletter, keep it a single column with all information segmented into sections.
Follow a simple, downward path – images on one side, text on the other.
For an eCommerce campaign, you can spice things up - just make sure to keep things segmented and sectioned.
Place a clickable element above the fold
When people open emails on their mobile, they are usually not going to spend an age reading the entire thing. Usually, mobile emails are just quickly scanned and skimmed.
To get as much as you can out of this quick scanning, place a clickable element above the top fold.
When you do that, you give a quick clickable link or image to your users that they can click on without going through the whole email.
For the above-the-fold Call to Action (CTA), choose a larger font, a larger button size, and some killer copy to attract those eyeballs.
Set the mood with color
Colors are loaded tools of communication and carry a lot of meaning. In marketing, colors are used not only to look pretty but also to send specific emotional signals and well as set the mood.
An overwhelming majority of consumers report being influenced by color alone when making purchase decisions.
Therefore, use colors wisely in your emails. While remaining true to your brand color palette, give your email design the space to be message-oriented.
Suppose you are sending your autumn fashion checklist email. Using warm colors such as orange, yellow, and brown will set the right tone.
It will let people know what to expect and ensure consistency in your design.
Keeping color psychology best practices in mind, careful and strategic use of colors not only improves the design but also emphasizes the brand message, inspires desired emotions, and helps create positive associations with the brand, all of which should lead to a higher conversion rate.
Pro tip: when choosing colors for your CTA, try to stick with active, stimulating colors such as red or orange.
Use a safe font
A safe font means a font that will display accurately and properly across all mobile and desktop devices without affecting the quality of the design or message.
Choosing an email-safe font is crucial because different fonts display differently when viewed across browsers and screen sizes.
With an email-safe font, you are guaranteed that every customer will see your email the exact way you have designed and intended it.
Some email-safe fonts include Arial, Courier New, Georgia, Lucinda Sans Unicode, Tahoma, Times New Roman, Trebuchet MS, and Verdana.
Along with fonts, it is as important to choose the correct font size as your primary goal with emails is quick and easy readability.
With titles, you don’t want to go lower than 22px, with 30px being the ideal size. For the email body, 14px is the absolute minimum.
Make your email’s images clickable
There are two arguments to be made for the case of making images clickable.
The CTA buttons in your marketing emails are doing hard labor. They are carrying the entire weight of user decision-making of whether they’ll be clicked or not. To reduce some of that weight, how about dividing responsibility around?
People are used to seeing images as clickable entities - social media has made sure of that. Why not take advantage of this new normal and allow more people to get to your content/product through snazzy, beautiful, clickable imagery?
Hyperlinking your images to your website works even better when you have relevant products.
Posters, books, accessories, apparel, you name it. Inserting corresponding images that carry the user through to the correct page is a certain way to increase your email ROI.
Segment your email into sections for easy scanning
People receive hundreds of emails while they’re on the go. The majority of these emails are only quickly scanned, and not properly read.
Since people cannot scan it and get to the point, they’ll ignore it.
With a concise email, you send a great impression of your brand – authoritative, direct, and articulate.
Straightforward emails also remove distractions and allow your recipient to focus on the single action that the CTA is asking them to take.
All this convenience also makes it easier to follow through with the action to buy, download, read, or listen, as per the message.
Consider the design of your CTA button
Quick disclaimer: your CTA doesn’t have to be a button, it can be a simple hyperlinked text, too.
However, in most cases, a CTA should be a button. The button shape helps make the CTA more prominent.
Plus, CTAs around the web are usually buttons. If you follow the norm in your email, it is more likely that people will recognize it and give it the importance it’s due.
A few considerations when designing your CTA button:
Make it large and place it prominently.
Use bright and noticeable colors for your CTA, such as red, orange, blue, etc. But make them relevant to the message. Blue inspires trust, while red is more suitable for e-commerce emails.
Use descriptive text for your CTA. Instead of ‘click here’, try ‘click here to read more’. Phrases where you add a direct action verb (shop, try, download, buy, and such) with a bit of description perform the best.
Keep the CTA as short as possible while following the above advice.
Place one CTA above the fold.
Do not use more than 3 CTAs in a single email. If the email is short, one CTA is enough.
Surround the CTA with white space to make the button pop.
A large, well-designed, well-placed CTA invites action and conveys the right message to the user.
Add alt text to all your images
Almost all email clients out there block images in emails by default. This is done to protect against spam, improve download speeds, and provide a seamless user experience.
But again, it makes life difficult for the average marketer. When people cannot see images or buttons, how do they know where to click?
A great response to this obstacle is to add alt text to all of your images – including the CTAs.
The alt text describes what is going on in the image. So even when the image is invisible, the message remains there for all to see.
For maximum effect, make the alt text descriptive and actionable.
Language such as “Click here to listen to the podcast” or “Buy now for a quick discount” helps users know what is being offered and what action you want them to take.
Excellent design coupled with a strong marketing strategy usually gets you the desired clicks and conversion rates in an email.
To ensure your design is successful, invest time testing out various versions of the email.
Seeing as a lot rides on the success of a single email campaign, testing is the best way to make sure your designs are as good as they can be.