6 Email Design Rules You Should Follow

Face it. You simply cannot have a business today without establishing your brand on the World Wide Web. There are many ways to get the word out about your business in cyberspace, and they are not all created equal, contrary to popular belief. You must differentiate between your marketing mediums online, just as you differentiate your offline campaigns; your windshield flyers are different from your newspaper ads, for example. Let’s talk today about your email marketing campaign, and some important design tips exclusive to this marketing medium.

Some No-No Design Rules

Email is a tricky beast, and there is a lot that can go wrong with an email marketing campaign once it’s sent. You might be looking at a perfectly designed email on your end, but who knows what your recipient is going to see when he or she opens the email on the other side. Many things can turn a perfect email into a perfect nightmare. Here are three things to avoid when designing your email:

  1. It’s tempting to create a graphically enhanced email using JavaScript or some other interactive programming, but chances are the nifty email you’re looking at won’t translate over your recipient’s email client. Your recipient might open up your email and see zilch, because his or her email client removed the JavaScript coding for safety’s sake. Avoid using coding other than HTML; otherwise, your email might be blank or misaligned upon opening.
  2. If you’re overloading your recipients with critical information – perhaps you’ve just revised your five-page privacy policy and you’re sending the new one out – don’t make them fish for the information they want to read. Many senders think including a linked table of contents in an email is a step that should be avoided, and nothing could be further from the truth. Linked TOCs should be included in emails packed with information, so your recipients can click immediately to what they want to read.
  3. Never be shy. If you think adding a call to action to your email makes it too “sales-pitchy” or pushy, you’re making a huge mistake. No, you don’t want to assault your recipient’s eyes with a giant, flashing red banner screaming at them to “CLICK HERE!!!” when they open your correspondence. You recipient, however, doesn’t want to have to go onto the Internet, navigate to your Web page, and then navigate again to your sales page. Help them avoid these steps by giving them easy access calls to action at the top of your email to take them directly where you want them to go.

Some Yes Design Rules

We’ve gone over some things that you shouldn’t do, now let’s go over some things that you should do when designing your perfect marketing email. Keep in mind the number one no-no above while reading these three tips: Use HTML coding when designing your e-correspondence. There are a few other tricks to use that ensure your email makes it into your customer’s inbox and looks how you sent it – for the most part. Three things to keep in mind are:

  1. If you have too many pictures or too much text, your email is going to be tagged as spam and dumped into cyber no-man’s-land. To avoid this from happening, create a balance between your email’s text and images. Make certain your text-to-image ratios are as equal as possible to avoid your email being tossed into the spam black hole.
  2. Speaking of images, you know when you open an email and all you see are boxes with a red “X” in them? That is so annoying. The problem is you can never guarantee that this isn’t going to happen. Chances are your recipient’s email client is going to replace your images with empty, red “X” boxes and prompt the reader to download the images separately. Therefore, always keep the important stuff in your marketing email within the text – don’t embed it in the image. Your recipient can’t read it if it’s an empty, red “X” box.
  3. You have to properly code your images, too, even if they don’t show up on the other side. If you’ve built your email’s text around the images, everything is going to be thrown off if the images don’t automatically download and display. When coding your HTML for your images, make sure you include each image’s height, width, and alt attributes. This will make certain your empty, red “X” box is the same size as your image and keep your text in place.

So, what is the reward for all of your efforts in designing the perfect email? Keeping your email subscriber list engaged in what you are saying and what your business is doing. Your emails will receive two reactions once they hit your customer’s inbox: One, a grunt of disgust and immediate “Trash” click, two, a bounce of excitement and immediate “Read’ click. I don’t have to spell this out for you, but you want reaction number two, so take the time to design emails sure to keep your subscribers happy and in the loop.


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