Email Content Best Practices

Emails take many forms, and often people rely on the same practices for successful emails that they do for traditional media. An email is a unique marketing message, however, with its own set of points to consider.

The three most important things to remember when creating emails are:

  1. Emails have seconds to capture attention
    Emails appear in long lists of other emails. They need to be attention-grabbing and relevant enough to be opened, and engaging enough to drive action

  2. Emails are viewed on multiple devices
    Emails must be optimized to appear consistent across multiple devices. 60% of all emails are opened on mobile, thus mobile optimization

  3. Emails want action
    Emails are meant to drive engagement. Whether it’s a click thru to a website or a coupon redemption; all elements of an email should help drive that action

General Email Pointers

  • Subject Line. Keep it short. If you have something to offer, make it clear. If not, leverage witty language to pique interest. A reader should be able to quickly judge what’s inside your email. If they can’t, they are unlikely to open it.

  • Pre-Header Text. This is the preview text that appears after the subject line of an email in the inbox, before you've opened the email. Use this text to further explain what's in your email, or grab the reader in some way. Think of it like a second chance to entice someone to open.

  • Single Objective. Do not cram too many subjects or calls-to- action into a single email. The result is more often a diluted message rather than multiple points of interest. Decide what your pain priority is and feature it prominently.

  • Text/Image Balance. An email should have a good balance of imagery and clear concise text relevant to the audience. Too much imagery with no clear text or call-to-action makes it difficult to guide a reader to the goal. While a paragraph of text requires a time commitment from a reader to reach the call- to-action. More importantly, some email clients block images entirely. So it’s best to have a good balance to ensure your message gets across.

  • Extract Text from Images. Images do not resize dynamically the way HTML text does. Keep the one-liners and large headlines in your image, but extract important text or calls-to-action. You can set the size and font restrictions to ensure readability, and also guard against losing this content if the images are blocked.

Layout

  • Clear CTAs and Bullet-Proof Buttons. Want someone to click on something? Give them a button. Using bullet-proof, HTML coded buttons means your CTA will remain intact regardless of restricted images, while also making it visually easy to navigate to. Too often, CTAs are embedded in bright, busy hero images when they should be featured on their own.

  • Minimal Text. As mentioned above, less text is always better. Figure out the most concise way to impart your message. It's easy to assume that the extra sentences that add detail or flare will be more compelling, but more words = "more time required" to a reader. Concise-ness almost always pays off.

  • Vertical Layout. Opt for vertical layout, as it’s the easiest to scroll through on a mobile device.

  • Use Web-Safe Fonts. They might not be as on-brand as your custom, proprietary font, but find a web safe font that's a close match. This will render across most email clients and still afford a good variety. If old desktop clients are the focus, find the next best supported font by that client and program it as the default.

Example:

Test

So you've landed on the final draft of your email and you've covered all your bases. TEST IT. Use Litmus to see how your custom HTML will render in different clients and browsers, or use Bridg templates to build custom emails that are pre-programmed to render across clients and be mobile optimized. At the very least, always send yourself a test message, before sending it.

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