For those who spend much time learning cool HTML5 & CSS3 layout tricks & pushing the envelope in design will find email design a mysterious beast. Email campaign development is archaic. If you miss designing sites with tables, you don’t need to look far — these types of layouts still exist in email layouts. Yet, its effectiveness still ranks as one of the best in online advertising. Equipped with our mailing list, we’ve found effective ways to bring more traffic to our sites through email newsletters. Creating super effective email design comes with its own challenges, however.
Email design’s best practices
Much like our webpages, to keep our designs streamlined, we opt to use as much HTML text as possible & avoid rendering areas of text as a graphic. We keep the primary calls to action in the header or near the top of the design (again, ideally as HTML) & close out the email message with a conclusive large call to action, something catchy like Find out more on our site! or a similar compelling hook that would relate to the audience. The words free & discount are hugely effective!
HTML image alt tags are important. For example, some email clients will automatically not download images, so descriptive text within the placeholders will be helpful:
Just as we test in Safari, Firefox, & Internet Explorer for our websites, we’ll make sure that our work renders properly in major email clients, such as Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, Gmail, etc. We’ve sent test emails through MailChimp — an online email marketing service — & view them on different testing machines at the office to make sure nothing breaks in the layout.
As with any web layout, make sure that your designs fall on a grid & your text styles are consistent. Ahh, pretty newsletter.
Because of the volume of custom email requests we receive, I thought it would be prudent to develop a template for rapid development. All of my designs follow the same layout:
Even with customers who do not provide any assets or marketing copy, content found on the company’s website can be easily manipulated into an effective campaign using these best practices.
Coding like it’s web 1.0
A blast from the past. Look at all the tables & cells!
Turns out that because CSS isn’t too reliable in email client rendering engines, tables are unfortunately the go-to when it comes to layout. CSS can still be used, but it becomes imperative to explicitly declare all styles in line for all elements. As you can imagine, it can get tiresome & will get repetitive.
Why email advertising is important
Companies hire us is to sell their products through their websites, but they need a boost in finding more traffic to their product pages. Email campaigns are still one of the more effective avenues of advertising, up there with banner ads & social media. Companies not only hire us for our targeted email list, but also because we’ve also created the most effective email campaigns that generate a high rate of conversions. With our proven best practices, we’ve created a potent user flow in the conversion funnel in creating an email subscriber into a buyer.
Our product pages are well-manicured, but we’ll save that for another portfolio post!