Think about the emails you’ve seen today. What subject lines have caused you to click? What have the emails looked like? Where have you read them? We interact with email all day long, and studies show time and again that it’s an effective way to generate leads and make sales. And yet, many of us put far less time into designing quality emails than we do quality printed items like brochures, postcards and even business cards. Not taking your email design seriously is a mistake.
In fact, we encourage you to take a hard look at your email marketing campaigns in the same way you do your print pieces. Here’s your checklist of five print design principles that you should be applying to your marketing emails as well:
1. Limit Fonts and Colors
Be sure to stick to your brand fonts and colors as much as possible, and be sure that you’re using color and changing fonts sparingly. This creates a consistent brand identity and it allows you to draw emphasis with particular design changes.
2. Choose High Quality Photos
Images are a huge part of email campaigns, but many people don’t worry about quality. While you don’t need (or want!) a print ready image (it would blow up your recipient’s inbox!), you do want a high-quality, web-ready image that conveys the messaging in your email and is clear, on-brand and not distracting. Test your image to be sure it’s not fuzzy or too large to be viewed on mobile as well!
3. Include Calls to Action
The great thing about email is the direct link that you can have between your customer and your brand’s website. When we’re creating a direct mail piece, we obsess about the CTA. How will we get the customer to open? To call or email or go online to buy? What is the one action we want the recipient to take? The same thought process should go into your emails. Include CTA buttons throughout the email – not just at the end – to help motivate the recipient to action. Make sure they work well and direct the customer to where you want them to go. Just like with direct mail, personalization always helps too!
4. Prioritize Your Information
When you’re designing for print, your space is limited. Not so, many of us believe, for email. With the potential for as large and long a message as you want, many of us can get carried away with email copy and try to cram too many messages in one place. Practice the same discipline you would with a printed piece: laser focus on specific messaging and be concise about how you convey it. Adhere to design principles that put the most important messages first, and utilize the right side of the email for prioritized messages. According to a Nielsen study, the left half of our screen wins 69% of our viewing time, so use that space wisely.
5. Use White Space
Just like in print design, using white space in email design is key. Give your copy and images some space to breathe, and be sure there’s sufficient room between headlines and text. This is one place that testing emails is key: sometimes the way it looks in your email marketing software doesn’t translate to the email once it’s sent.
Of course, as with any electronic medium, email’s got a couple of key differences to print. Here are two things to add to your list that you probably aren’t considering when it comes to print!
1. The Dreaded SPAM Filter
There’s no surefire way to ensure that your email doesn’t end up in SPAM, but adhere to email best practices to minimize your chances. Use the 70/30 rule when designing your email, making 70% of the email text and up to 30% images. (Spammers often use image-heavy emails.) Avoid spammy subject line words that trigger filters. And be sure to follow email marketing best practices when it comes to opting into your list and cleaning customers who are not engaged out of the list.
2. The Mobile Factor
On average, more than 50% of emails are opened on a mobile device. If you check out your statistics with your email marketing software provider, you may have even more insights. For B2B marketers, you’re likely skewing more towards desktop opens as people are at work; other industries are going to see big mobile, on-the-go open rates. You have to ensure that your email is optimized for mobile. The best thing you can do here is test emails you send to make sure the images and text look great on a mobile device. General principles include CTA buttons that are large enough to click on a touch screen, larger type and a simple layout. Consider how you want the recipient to interact with the email and be sure you’re designing in a way they can do that via mobile. (Don’t forget to optimize the landing page for your CTA for mobile too!)
Today’s challenge is to take 30 minutes to review your latest email marketing campaign against these principles. Put your print hat on and consider how you can improve your campaigns to make them more visually appealing and increase click-throughs and open rates.
If you’re struggling with email design, one great way to get a custom look that adheres to best practices is to get a new template. Our team at Ambit Creative Group can help with that! Get in touch today to learn more about branded email templates.