Let’s cut straight to the chase. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, email marketing is a large part of every marketer’s job and an even larger part of every customer/prospect’s expectation. Sure that’s not the only job we do but it’s one we do often so we need to be able to easily create a well designed marketing email. Email marketing has come a long way over the last several years but with all of the fancy new technology comes an abundance of overly fancy emails that end up being too difficult to navigate through. While sometimes it may be nice to add a few bells and whistles to your email campaign, we’ve found that a well-written plain text email can perform just as well – if not better.

With that said, we realize that since you’re creating emails like it’s your job (literally) and you’re probably doing it within a marketing automation platform (we hope), it’s our responsibility to put together a few tips to make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to designing good marketing emails.

And now for your email design tips …

  1. Place your most important information in the top left area of your email body, including title and your main call to action. Most people view emails in the preview pane so this is the first area of the email they will see. 70% of recipients that have the capability to read email through the preview pane do (Marketing Sherpa).
  2. Along with ensuring your most important info is in the left corner, make sure your call to action stands out. Use bold text or a bright-colored button that contrasts against the background of your email. However, if you choose to use a button, be sure to repeat your CTA near it in text format so people with images turned off can still see it.
  3. Your email should complement your website. Emails can get really busy and colorful quickly so be sure you are using colors that are complementary to your logo and your site to keep consistency throughout your brand.
  4. You know all those fancy fonts you just downloaded? Don’t use those in your emails. Use standard fonts throughout your email. Stick with web-safe fonts like Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, Times New Roman and Georgia. And please for all of our sanity, steer clear of comic sans (note: this is typically a personal preference but nobody will take your comic sans email seriously so you’ve been warned)!  
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  6. People don’t read, they scan. Make it easy for your recipients to quickly spot important information in your email. Bullets, bold text, buttons and charts make quick navigation easy.
  7. Think about personalization. Personalized emails make your recipients feel like the email was sent with him or her in mind. Personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10% (Aberdeen).
  8. Be mindful of your preview text. In addition to your subject line, you have a brief second to give your recipients a short preview into the content of your email in addition to your subject line. Litmus suggests that choosing something engaging vs. the default “view in browser” or “having trouble viewing this email?” can help optimize your open rates by up to 45%.
  9. Remember that white space is your friend. It’s a resting place for your reader’s eyes. There should be plenty of space between headlines, articles and any other content included in the email.
  10. While there may be no real secret to writing subject lines that guarantee you opens and clicks, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances.
    • Keep it short.
    • Include a call to action.
    • Try asking a question.
    • Be specific about what the message contains.
  11. TEST, TEST, TEST! Test your email in all possible servers, on all possible devices, everywhere you can think of. Remember, an ugly email can send your message straight to the trash.

While your message is always important, it’s also imperative to keep in mind that in most marketing campaigns, the email is just the introduction to a much broader conversation. You don’t need to cram everything in one message. If you can give readers the ability to scan through your emails quickly and focus on keywords, images or hyperlinked text, then you are on your way to designing a quality marketing email.