6 best practices for the perfect email design

There’s more to designing the perfect email than choosing a fancy color palate and adding a few images. The email design process includes everything from ensuring you have a mobile-friendly template to creating an engaging subject line. There’s also the basic principle of making sure email doesn’t end up unopened in your recipients’ spam folder.

Optimizing your brand

One of the most crucial email design practices is preserving brand identity and consistency. These principles include putting your brand name in the “From” field, ensuring that the “To” field holds the receiver’s name instead of their email address, and using an identifiable address to send from. Essentially, each part of your email needs to be on brand.

Adding your logo to the top left corner is also a great way to catch your reader’s attention.

While the subject line does play a key role in email marketing, it’s the domain reputation that matters. If your company holds a high domain reputation score, it becomes easier for other design elements to act in support.

Headers and pre-headers

Snippet text is one of the newest, most popular trends in email marketing. Email clients such as Outlook, Gmail, and iOS mail allow users to show a snippet (or preview) of text, which is usually limited to 100 characters or less.

The iPhone 6S and the iOS 9 also have a feature known as “Peek and Pop” that allows users to “peek” at the content of the email from the pre-header section, without actually opening the email. This is especially advantageous for users opening emails from their mobile device, which you can guarantee will be a majority of your customers. By being mobile-responsive and including pre-header text that will grab your reader’s attention, you prove your company to be both tech-savvy and legitimate.

The pre-header text of an email is used as a prescreening tool by subscribers. Because the pre-header is the first thing subscribers see, this is an opportunity to slip in a little subliminal advertising.

Keep the following points in mind when crafting your pre-header text:

  • Keep your text between 40-50 characters
  • Consider how the text will look in the body of your email campaign
  • Use this text as an extension to your subject line
  • Include a call to action

The layout

The layout of an email includes its size, the fonts used, the text size, the colors, etc. Certain studies suggest that the “ideal” email width ranges between 500 to 650 pixels; a vertical layout is preferred.

If you have a lot to cover, a table of contents should be used. And, if you’re showing off multiple products, a navigation bar is the best way to go.

Limit yourself to four or five sections so that your email doesn’t lose its visual appeal.

To ensure your layout is optimized for mobile viewing across several devices, dotmailer offers an EasyEditor tool that does all of the work for you. EasyEditor speeds up the design process with CSS inlining, creating a flawless email design.

Visuals

Graphics are the face of an email and should define your content sections clearly. If you’re using an image, remember to provide fallback color and alt-text. Avoid using background images layered behind text, as some email providers, such as Outlook, do not support background images.

Your links should stand out. At minimum, a hyperlink should be underlined and formatted in a bold, blue font.

Content is King

Aside from using short sentences and paragraphs, be sure to employ design elements like dividing lines, spacing, and content blocks to separate topics. Custom content blocks are an easy and efficient way keep your emails organized and individualized. Use short text blocks of 100 to 200 words that include a strong call-to-action; break up your larger sections of text with images or headlines.

Bullet points are also a great way to make your content readable and digestible. Just remember to use a web-safe standard font such as Arial, Veranda, and Times New Roman.

The footer

The ideal email footer should include your organization’s contact information, links to your website, key products or services, social networks and sharing or “forward to a friend” buttons.

Another way to avoid being sent through the spam chute is to add a, “Why are you receiving this email?” line. Making it easier for readers to unsubscribe from your email will reduce the risk of your email getting tossed in the junk pile.

Standing out from the rest of the emails clogging a customer’s inbox can be a challenge. Applying the design tips above will give you a far better chance not only of avoiding the spam folder, but also of getting people to read your email and convert.