Back to the Basics: Perfecting Email Creative

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

Once your subscriber list is set and your content is finalized, the next step in perfecting your email campaign is working out the details of the design. With so much of the focus being put on deliverability, growing your lists and working out the right messaging, email design can easily be forgotten or pushed to the side. By taking just a small amount of time to consider the following tips, email design can assist you in maximizing return on investment and communicating a consistent brand identity to customers.

Don't assume images will be displayed.
In many cases, subscribers do not automatically display email images without being prompted to do so first. Consider inserting a direct call to action such as "Click here to view images" so customers are more inclined to view the email in full. Also, to avoid losing any messaging, make sure the information you want your readers to take away isn't embedded within any images. Instead, use HTML body copy for all key messages you are trying to get across within the email.

Balance the text-to-image ratio.
Emails with an uneven ratio of images to text have a higher chance of being flagged as spam. Be sure to integrate text with images to avoid being caught in spam folders. This will also ensure that your entire message is seen by subscribers. On the flip side, it is possible to include too much text. If you need to communicate a large amount of information, include a table of contents so the email is broken into multiple sections. Embed a colored background to make the text stand out for the reader.

Make sure the email is easy to act on.
The design of your email does have an effect on your call to action. The layout needs to allow users to respond as quickly as possible. The presentation of the email should be constructed so that readers receive the most pressing information first. Place the call to action at the very top of the email so that your customers don't have to sift endlessly through content that may be irrelevant to them. The call to action needs to stand out, so keep everything as simple as possible.

Be cautious of JavaScript or external CSS.
Not every subscriber has the same email program, meaning that each code is different and may not load the style in the way it was intended. Programs like Thunderbird provide good support, while others, such as Lotus Notes, do not. Many email clients will remove JavaScript for security reasons, and CSS can only be used in line and not in style blocks. There is no way to tell which client your customers are going to use when they try to open your email, so it is best to stick with HTML coding as much as possible.

Run a spam check.
Emails with large images or excessive amounts of HTML are often relegated to the spam folder, so don't forget to test the email before you send to your whole list. SpamAssassin is an online tool that checks the spam rating of your email, and most email service providers offer that service, as well. Consult your provider for ways to reduce spam complaints and make sure your message makes it to the inbox.

John Murphy is president of ReachMail.



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