Email Marketing Design & Development Tips That Lead to Success
By: Andrea Trapani
Email marketing is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways of getting your company’s message in front of a wide range of people. One major advantage to this method is that e-blasts tend to have a longer shelf life than social media content, often because e-blasts are more thorough, frequently revisited and forwarded. You’re also able to cover a lot more info and utilize a more dynamic, customized presentation, as well as reach a large amount of people (providing you maintain your contact database well and aren’t spamming people!).
These advantages come with a bit of a catch. Email marketing can be finicky. Since email clients (Outlook, Gmail, etc.) don’t update technology as often or as extensively as Web browsers, developing an e-blast that works can prove to be a little tougher than what you may have learned in an HTML crash course. There are a few rules of thumb on both the development and design side of e-blast creation that are important to incorporate when developing any type of e-marketing program.
Before designing your e-blast, take time to look at some of the automated emails in your inbox. Taking notes from big box retailers and online coupon distributors is not cheating! Look at it as free advice. Review elements such as image presentation, layout, amount of copy, link treatment, etc. All of these aspects have been premeditated to encourage you to read as much of the e-blast as possible. Noting elements you like can help you capitalize on your email marketing program while avoiding issues.
Now that you have a solid idea of what works, consider these same things while designing your e-blast. Of course you want to have your own look and stand out from the crowd, but in the world of email marketing, you’ll find that simple goes much further than complicated. In your research, you’ll quickly notice most major league e-blasts include a very basic display of text and photos and never really get too flashy. Save your out-of-the-box guerilla marketing ideas for a time and place where they’ll be more effective than on a busy commuter’s phone.
Now that you have an idea of how you’d like your e-blast to look, it’s important to consider how it’ll work before actually creating it. Design and development go hand in hand, and it’s important to consider the various (and often random) things that e-mail programs may or may not support. Additionally, it’s important to consider that coding a reliable e-blast is kind of like coding a website in the 90’s. It’s 100% table based, uses minimal-to-no CSS and excludes a handful of style attributes you’d think would be a no brainer.
The first thing to consider is layout. This is the framework for your e-blast, and it’s important to code it in a strategic way so it’ll work while being easy to update. Next, take into account load times and visibility. Image heavy e-blasts are less likely to look visually accurate and appealing across all e-mail clients. Instead of slicing and dicing a Photoshop file and ending up with 600 images, make it your personal challenge to keep your image folder as empty as possible. Of course you’ll need header graphics and photos, but don’t eat up load time with silly solid color dividers.
Solid coding is ultimately the key to your e-blast being as visible as possible. Being sure that all your styles are in line, all your tags are closed and being overly descriptive will pay off in the end. Don’t give an e-mail client an opportunity to misunderstand your code. It may be overkill, but specifying width and height attributes for all images, background color for all tables and cells and zeroing out table and image attributes like cellpadding, cellspacing and borders will pay off in the end. Taking these extra steps throughout the coding process will ensure your message is received by ALL the recipients.
Coding e-blasts and engaging in email marketing programs is a continuous learning and experimentation process. You’ll constantly discover random attributes not supported by various e-mail clients. A good thing to remember is consistent visibility should take precedence. Stick with what works so your viewers have the same experience. By following these guidelines, you’ll avoid overwhelming audiences and, instead, deliver a clear, concise, and most importantly, consistent call to action that creates results.
Do you have additional email marketing tips?