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It’s all about design – Why do first impressions matter?

Understand what makes a well designed email stand out
There is no escaping the fact that design plays a major role in whether your email campaigns will be successful or not. Let’s face it, who wants to purchase from a company whose key message looks terrible and doesn’t arrive correctly in the inbox? From the use of colour and how it reads, to how it creates a rapport with your audience and ignites them into action – it’s all about design – design matters!

Crisp, simple and engaging email designs draw subscribers in, allowing them to build a relationship with your brand. It’s important to understand what your customers are looking for and how email design plays a role in fulfilling their needs as with email marketing, sometimes poor design ruins great copy.

Our team of designers have come up with a few hints and tips to make your emails look great in the inbox and stand out from the rest.

What is the function of your email?

Firstly we need to go back to basics and work out the core function of your email. Is it a monthly newsletter to be sent out to employees or a sales email focusing on a particular product? Both emails will look completely different as they are performing a different task. Make sure you are clear about who you are. Ensure your logo and branding of the email communicate a clear massage of what you are trying to say. Does it sound like it’s coming from you, or could it be mistaken for an email from any other company?

Don’t ply the email with too much content and make it too long! Keep content short and to the point!

You’re trying to engage the recipient with a short message that entices them to click on one of your cleverly designed CTA’s to get them onto your website and purchasing one of your products. If your content is too long and rambles on for too long about the history of your company, the chances of you losing the interest of that person is very high, so keep it short, keep it crisp, simple and engaging. It’s also important to remember that many people scan websites and emails. Cramming all of your content together makes it that much more difficult to scan and therefore harder for your recipient to find what may be interesting to them.

Use an optimal image size

Don’t try and use images that are too small and be aware of how you insert your images into your emails. The average width of an email is 640 pixels so trying to insert an image that’s 4000 pixels wide will not have a good end result for your design. The best image size is the size that’s is needed in the email. We also find that saving out as a PNG is the best format for images as it keeps them super sharp on cloud servers.

Use the best text to image ratio

It’s a common misconception and we understand that it’s tempting to use a large image of a flyer put that into a template and send that out as its, easy right? NO! Sending out one large image will land your message in your audience’s spam folder, as this is how spammers work. When formatting and strategizing the placement of items within your email, it’s important that 70 percent of the aspect ratio is text, while 30 percent is images.

Check for different devices

Are your templates rendering properly across all devices. How are the columns stacking on an iPhone? Does your email look good on an Android phone? The way that different email clients can represent a responsive template can vary so a three-column template might not look good across the board. Sending and checking your email will let you know which email clients aren’t playing ball and you may have to adjust the layout of your content to accommodate this.

Test, test and test again

When sending out an email you have to think about the fact that you are sending this email out to many different computers, smart phones, tablets and many more devices. Not just that you are also sending this email out to many different email clients too who will all render your email in a different way. So keeping the design super simple is key. Once you are happy with the look of the email make sure you test this by sending out to as many different test addresses so you can see how they render differently in different inboxes. You can also use a cross platform tester, which will make it easier and quicker.

Locate your CTAs for maximum clicks

Where are your Call To Actions placed within the email? Are they at the top above the fold or do your recipients have to scroll down and look for contact details? Best practice with CTAs is to ensure they are consistent with the narrative sequence of your email. Never ask people to click on a CTA immediately after they open an email unless the subject line has clearly set this expectation.

People want to know why they should click on a link before you ask them to tap a CTA. Your CTAs should be prominent and complete the sentence “I want to” as this clearly sets an expectation of what action the CTA results in. Avoid using ambiguous and generalised copy such as “submit” or “click here” as this does not inspire action. Think about how they look in relation to what you are asking the recipient to do. It’s fine to place different CTAs throughout your email provided they are relevant to the copy they are adjacent to.

Closing Thoughts

Whether you’re building your own emails, using a template from an email marketing software system or have a team of creative designers to hand, the best practices for email design remain the same. Following the above rules will definitely make your life easier. Stay on brand, have a clear message including a visible CTA, keep it short, be responsive and most of all remember the Golden rule KISS – Keep It Super Simple.

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