Tips for Your Email Newsletter Designs

Email marketing still works and is a critical part of any marketing strategy to promote a website or business. But nowadays, potential clients are bombed with hundreds of email newsletters each month and, unfortunately, most of them end up in the trash. Companies spend a lot of money on email newsletters, with North American companies alone being reported to spend around 400 million dollars on email marketing in 2006. Much of that money is being wasted.

But the main reason newsletters end up in people’s trash bins is not because the content is poor. It's because of the visual aspect. Customers are more likely to read the offers they have in their inbox if the design is attractive, is not cluttered, and doesn't look like spam.

Here are some tip to increase the chances of people opening and responding to the emails you send out.

@ symbol on four leaf clover

Tables are not obsolete

In web design tables, are not popular anymore. But since most email clients are like a cat in water when trying to deal with CSS, it is easier to position elements within tables and have some idea of how the email will look to the recipients. 

Get rid of any background images

Most of the email applications do not allow images to load at first, so the user decides if the email is trustworthy enough to be fully loaded. The majority of users will see an imageless version of your newsletter at first and will decide very fast to get rid of it. Most emails with images are almost automatically considered as spam by many email applications, and I am sure you do not wish to end up labeled like that.

The bottom line is to always avoid background images and, why not, to use either white or a light color. You have to adapt your design to all the situations. Keep the background images for web.

Avoid Putting Information in Images

Not only background images should be avoided, but also the emails designed using images that convey necessary information. As stated before, images do not load until the user says so. This way you risk ending up in the same place: the trash.  Emails with broken image links will not increase your sales or your reputation.

Keep in mind that some users check their emails from a mobile device, or a client which is placed behind a company firewall or a content-filtering system. These block images as well.

If you really want to use images, insert a link in the design which points to the actual webpage; “Having trouble viewing this email?” sounds familiar?

Videos and flash movies are considered spam

Email programs are smart, however they do not know the difference between an email newsletter with rich media embedded, or an email from a friend with a flash placed in the middle. All is spam in its view. This is why designers should avoid embedding videos in the email newsletters.

It is better if the design tries to tempt the customer to a page where the video is placed, than loading the customer’s inbox. Moreover, think again about users checking their emails from a mobile device. Some of them have a bandwidth limit and loading your video might be very annoying and might even force them to pay a larger phone bill.

Narrow is safe

The majority of people do not open every email in its own window; they just preview it in the preview panel, which might be very narrow. The narrow preview panel does not give too much space to work with, but you will have to manage it anyway. So keep the design narrow. This won’t harm the users opening all the emails in a window and the newsletter will look good in any application.

If you, however, design too wide, keep the most important information on the left side of the email, towards the top. It will always be visible and might tempt the user to open the whole email in a new window.

Simple is good

If narrow is safe, then simple is good. Don’t put too much information in the newsletter, work with a bit more white space and only insert the information if you absolutely have too. If the newsletter grabs their attention, the customers will check the whole website on their own; you won’t even have to guide them there.

This way, if you offer an “email deal” only, you can contrast the link with something special that will stand out. Otherwise, they may not pay enough attention to it.

Link to the website

Because the call-to-action has to be short, the user needs to know there is a place where he can find out more. Link to the website and make it obvious. Lots of things can go wrong, from a too defensive firewall to a poor computer or screen, so be sure there is a place where the user can go and see it all together.

Basic templates are OK

The main reason behind a marketing campaign is to update your subscribers about your offers, deals, or other information. You do not need to make a great impression on them with the design. If they are subscribed to your newsletters, it means they have already been on the website and trust you, as a company or person. If you are afraid of messing it up, go for a basic template from the internet, change the text, remove the unwanted elements and send it to your list. You will save time, money, and may be more effective.

email newsletter design sample

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