The look and feel of your company’s emails are powerful persuaders that help make your marketing attractive to your prospects – just about as much as the content and cadence do.
That’s why marketers use email design to enhance their messaging and bring attention to the important stuff they want their subscribers to notice.
But how much text, graphics, and other visual elements do you need for your email campaigns to:
- Captivate your audience?
- Shine bright lights on your quality offerings?
- Inspire prospects to action?
The trick is to understand how better email design can better engage your subscribers while supporting your branding strategy in the process. Let’s take a look.
Benefits of Effective Email Design
Most people read an email in 15 seconds or less. Effective email design helps you make a great first impression in just 15 seconds:
- It combines the visual elements of good graphic design with the technical finesse of good digital marketing techniques to make an impact.
- It helps to ensure that every marketing message you send is delivered, opened, and read by your subscribers.
- It entices your subscribers to take a specific action - whether to download an asset, make a purchase, learn more, or connect with your company in another way, which is influenced by the way you guide them through the messaging.
Anatomy of a Marketing Email
Every email has eight sections you can use to tell a compelling marketing story. All of them work together to guide your recipients through your message to an action-packed ending.
When people receive an email, the first information they see is who the message is from. This is the header, which also contains other information such as the recipient's email address, who to reply to (if anyone), the send date, and other metadata from the email marketing provider about security and more.
- Subject Line
Technically part of the header, the subject line text tells people what the email is about.
- Preview Text
Sometimes called a preheader, this is the content email recipients see from their inboxes underneath the subject line of the email.
- Email Body
A recipient sees the body of the email after they click on it from their inbox. The main message of any email is contained in the body of the email.
- Branding Elements
Companies include branding elements in the body of an email, such as a company logo, to help identify the email content as theirs and help people recognize the company as the sender. Many marketers also create a color palette for their email campaigns that coordinates with the logo.
Images, photos, graphics, and more are almost always part of marketing emails and are included in the email body.
- Call-To-Action (CTA)
Technically part of the email body, a CTA is the desired response you want to elicit from your recipients.
The footer is at the bottom of every email. It contains information required by law and includes:
- Your organization’s name and physical address
- A way for subscribers to unsubscribe from email communication
- A way for subscribers to update their profiles
- Details about the email service provider
Please note: Marketing emails never include attachments.
14 Design Tips for Great Marketing Emails
Follow these tips to determine the visual format and design complexity for your email campaigns that will attract your audience and also be well-received.
Use a name and an official email address so people know exactly who is sending an email and who to reply to with a response. This can also improve the likelihood that the email will be delivered to your recipient’s inbox instead of their spam or junk folder.
An effective subject line is critical for you to connect with your subscribers. Subject lines are what convince subscribers to open your emails. Always include them and make them short, clear, and captivating. Consider adding the subscriber’s name to the subject line. Avoid using spam triggers like “Free!” or too much punctuation ($$$).
Add details in the preview text content so subscribers will know exactly what to expect when they open the email. Create a sense of urgency with the first five to eight words, which almost always appear right in a subscriber’s inbox (If you don’t include preview text, your email software will populate the space with the first few lines of your email).
Use a branded color scheme consistently in your emails along with your logo to strengthen brand recognition.
Personalize the greeting with your subscriber’s first name so they’ll feel like you’re talking directly to them.
Choose relevant visuals for your emails that support your message. Make sure they’re high quality, whether they’re original photography and artwork, custom-edited stock images, graphics, animations, or videos.
Consider using email templates for the body of your email. A template can provide a cleaner email design that follows best practices, design consistency among email campaigns, and ease of use.
Craft email messages based on who your target audience is, the purpose of your email, and what you want subscribers to do after reading it.
Write text based on content blocks that help guide the reader from one copy point to the next.
Keep messaging clear, concise, and a quick read. Write them with your brand personality in mind.
Include links that work to your website, blogs, social media pages, and other online resources so it’s easy for subscribers to get more information with just one click.
Give subscribers several ways to access calls to action. For instance, use CTA buttons with clear directives (DOWNLOAD NOW) and also include linked text (Get Your eBook Here). CTAs work best when they’re very noticeable. Use bold colors, bigger sizes, and prime locations within your email format. Make sure CTA links take subscribers exactly where they expect to go.
Make your emails mobile-responsive because the majority of people check email on their phones. The customer experience should stay consistent among devices. Optimize the format, text, images, and everything else so it looks just as good on a small screen as it does on a large one. Provide alt text for any images.
Employ A/B testing to try out different subject lines, preview text, and CTAs.