In the age of marketing, two things are vital: the image of the product or service and the points complementing the image. They work hand-in-hand to accomplish a simple, clear objective — put out a message that resonates with current users while also recruiting new ones. Though email marketing is similar to its predecessors in striving to achieve this goal, it’s definitely more cumbersome in how it goes about doing so.
While email marketing is similar to older marketing techniques in being based on aesthetics, it’s a factor that plays a much bigger role in the context of this modern delivery mechanism.
Throughout the day, our inboxes are filled with numerous emails, all different by virtue of design. Yet only a few catch our eyes. This is because they pay close attention to aesthetics and its impact, an impact that stretches beyond just the recipient and all the way to their email service providers. Not being careful about your email’s design can potentially result in it getting flagged as spam.
So let’s look closely at nine design techniques for crafting the perfect email campaign, one that pleases both the recipient and their service providers.
The ultimate goal of your subject line is to propel the readers to open the email. The prescribed length of a subject line has been a bone of contention for a long time though. This is due to how it appears on different platforms and devices. The well-taken path of 41-50 characters stood in vogue for a long time because the emails were only being read on a desktop screen.
Then came the advent of smartphones. At present, some smartphones — when in portrait mode — fail to show subject lines with more than 30 characters. This has given rise to further debate about subject line length.
The current best practice is to keep your text between 21-30 characters. This will help you stay on the safer side and hopefully ensure your subject line is accessible on different devices.
To this day, you’re bound to come across subject lines varying from 9-13 characters to 51-60 characters. You too can play around with this and be dynamic if you’re on good terms with the contacts in your list. While flexibility in approach, humor, and content size can work in B2C conversations though, B2B conversations should try to maintain a formal posture.
Reaching out to every contact is easy when you have a generic content. But the more personal you can get with the content — the more specific you can make it to your recipient’s situation — the better your chances of getting them to engage. That said, it’s tough to try and provide each of them with a unique version of your content. With patient homework and careful execution, though, it’s an achievable goal.
The first step is to get in touch with your contacts and collect as much information from them as possible via signup forms, survey campaigns, etc. The goal is to go beyond preliminary fields and learn unique information about their preferences and other behaviors. After gathering this information, the next step is to segment it according to your specifications.
This meticulous segmentation will help you make the most of email marketing features. It will allow you to tailor your content with appropriate templates, merge tags, and dynamic content.
You can send the appropriate email templates resonating the common tastes and preferences of a group of contacts in your list.
Personalized email templates are more effective during festivals, holidays, and seasons.
If you are a Zoho Campaigns user, you can choose from a wide array of pre-designed templates aimed to make personalization easier.
Merge tags are automated tags associated with information fields you collected from your audience and then used during segmentation. Merge tags can transform your emails into a one-to-one conversation by pulling the recipient’s name, title, or any other field on which you collected information.
Dynamic content enables the sender to customize particular sections of the email for different audience sections. Zoho Campaigns allows you to choose from multiple segments and custom criteria conditions in order to create dynamic segments. This way, your email can cater to varied audiences, just at the same time.
ABOVE THE FOLD
While “above the fold” is a newspaper term, it’s still relevant to the digital realm. Traditionally, the most important points are hinted above the fold of a newspaper because it creates immediate curiosity for the reader and encourages them to dive deeper into the content. This tactic still works well in emails too.
Today, “above the fold” means the section on a screen that the reader can access without scrolling down the page. This section varies in size from approximately 200-500 pixels.
As an email marketer, you must grab people’s attention by making the most of this space. It should always have your logo to retain a higher level of recognition in the minds of your email clients, and you should be very intentional about the words, images, and CTAs you use here. Keep in mind that your email will also be accessed from smart phones, so be careful about image and font size.
Many newspapers add a touch of humour or suspense to titles to engage the reader, and this is a method you can use as well to encourage your audience to keep scrolling and reading the rest of the email. You could also hint about a coupon code or an offer promo they’re able to find after scrolling.
Lay out your email in such a way that it grabs the attention of even the most seasoned readers. It should prompt them to head to the most important section of the content quickly and spend more time there.
Here are some layout design strategies you can follow:
In a pyramid structure, you view your email content like a pyramid, with a narrow tip at the top and a wider base. The tip of the email template plays the vital role of conveying your brand’s message. You can use a hero image or large fonts to serve this purpose, whereas the rest of the content can act as filler.
As the name suggests, this format replicates a pyramid but in an inverted manner. The top portion of the email, along with the rest of the body, act as a channel to lead the reader to the most important information, which lies at the foot of the content. Most often, this section is occupied by a CTA button.
In the Z pattern, a reader is led to read a line from left to right and then back left again, repeating this for consecutive lines. This visual movement from left to right creates a visual diagonal. This diagonal is usually considered redundant by the reader as it contains images. The two parallel lines are the important sections and often the most important part of the template appears here. In this case, the CTA button.
Born out of our reading habit rather than the marketing norms, the F pattern caters to the scale of interest of today’s readers. Many modern texts fail to retain the reader’s interest by the time they reach the fourth or the fifth paragraph. This means the reader reads less of each line as they scroll down, thus forming the shape of letter F.
As an email marketer, you should design content allowing readers to reach the bottom of the text quickly.
Place an important element of your content here to allow the reader to spend more time in this section.
Every email campaign has to have complementary images and text. If also that is attained, the size of images in the template becomes a problem. All this can be solved by the careful use of horizontal divisions in the template. These divisions will frame relevant images along with text while reducing the size of the images drastically. Divisions will also save the required space in the email. With Zoho Campaigns, you can access the template editor to create an email with image text divisions.
The perfect email width varies from device to device. This has made the email marketers experiment with the size of email width. Then again, the varying resolutions across different email service provider platforms is also a growing concern.
For a long time, 600 pixels was the prescribed email width but the increasing prevalence of smartphones has started to demand for less email width.
This has compelled email marketers to opt for responsive email templates rather than risk their email marketing ventures displaying incorrectly.
Responsive email templates, as per the name, means the content adapts to different devices. They are free from shortcomings like header misalignment, inability to show images, and more.
In Zoho Campaigns, you can choose from a wide array of responsive pre-designed templates.
It’s always good to send test emails across different platforms and go with the choice that looks best on most devices.
Color is the key link between images and texts. In a color palette, red is the coldest color whereas blue is the warmest. All the colors and their uncountable shades represent our emotions. Thus, using them strategically will have a greater impact on readers and result in higher user engagement.
Color preference is based on different factors like culture, gender, age, geographical location, and more. As an email marketer, you can test your campaigns using different colors among different segments. This will help you make the right choice.
Your email campaign should include a primary color that resonates with your brand image. Use other colors to complement this key color. Try to stay away from over usage of one colour.
Mix and use different colors to make your approach vibrant but not flashy.
A flashy content might increase the chances of the email being marked as spam.
Although images speak more than texts, their use in email sometimes becomes tricky. Too few images can make an email look dull, while too many images can get it marked as spam. Since images are indispensable, we need to use them judiciously and stay away from spam traps. Always use vector images while depicting something important. Unlike raster images, they don’t get pixelated when zoomed in.
It’s especially important to use a vector image to depict the brand logo.
Many email marketers are showing inclination towards using illustrations and emoticons in the email content, which tends to work better with more informal B2C campaigns. We advise against using them for most B2B campaigns.
Best image formats:
JPEG (Joint Photography Experts Group)
JPEG images are smaller in file size and lose less information when compressed. JPEG images are not good for logos and patterns, however their smaller size has made them popular among email marketers for other large images.
PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
PNG images stand out because of their very low compression and ability to show transparency. Their large file size often restricts email marketers from using them as more than brand logos. Using a lot of PNG images will lead to a longer email loading time for readers.
GIF (Graphic Interchange Format)
GIFs are quite common in recent times because they can render the same effect as a very small video without taking away the necessary space. Even with the loop factor and high compression rate, GIFs are pretty useful.
Email marketers today are advised to use high-DPI (dots per inch) images in place of low-DPI images. This is because of advances in technology resulting in higher resolution. When you use a low-DPI image in high resolution, it may appear blurred and blunt at curves and edges.
Along with images, fonts determine your brand’s approach. A good email marketer will never overlook the importance of fonts as they reflect the seriousness of a content. Typography is the art of using fonts, one widely experimented with today.
Pre-loaded fonts offered by an email service provider are known as web safe fonts as they are compatible with other email servers. You could also tread an unconventional path by choosing from among some rarely used fonts, which are available in selected software or for purchase from font marketplaces.
Prior to embedding new fonts, do research about your contacts and their mail servers to learn which fonts are supported by them.
To be safe, always employ a fallback font.
This font should bear the same aspect ratio as your primary font and should be chosen from among the pre-loaded fonts on offer.
Your choice of fonts should be based on the industry you work in and the people you cater to. For ages, serif fonts have been the embodiment of print media and journalism. Sans fonts on the other hand are connected to joviality and frankness and are preferred by advertising, clothing, lifestyle industries, and more.
All these will help you as an email marketer determine the tone and vibe of your content with an apt font choice.
The age-old concept of “the more the merrier” doesn’t work in email marketing. For our purposes, a lot of information scrambled up in a space may turn out to be too much for the reader to grasp. Owing to these practices, the F pattern of text viewing has gradually become prevalent.
Always bar yourself from using the entire template space.
Strategically leaving empty space in your content can help garner higher readership and click-through rates.
White space denotes the blank area between different elements in the content. On a micro level, this includes your kerning (the horizontal space between characters on the same line) and leading (the vertical space between characters on two different lines), whereas on a macro level, this includes the blank space present throughout your entire content.
If rendered properly, these white spaces can contribute on active and passive levels. On an active level, white space will give readers some respite before leading them to the next element. On a passive level, white space will drive the reader to reach the most important section of the content—in most cases the CTA button.
Every email marketer aims to create perfect email campaigns that resonate with their recipients, but not many succeed in their attempts. Perfection might be a subjective term, but with these above mentioned steps, you can at least design an aesthetically sound email.