Though the majority of email newsletters end up either getting deleted instantly, disappearing into people’s spam folders or just getting ignored, email marketing still promises the best return on investment of all forms of marketing, provided that it is done correctly. Building up a quality opt-in mailing list and creating interesting content that people actually want to read are two difficult yet essential things that you need to achieve with email marketing, but the importance of eye-catching and engaging design should also not be underestimated. Digital Dialog take a look at six of the most important newsletter design factors you should take into account.
1. Use Responsive Design
Those who regularly read their emails using mobile apps or Web browsers often find that many email newsletters look truncated and difficult to read. When a typical email newsletter is squeezed onto the small screen, it can quickly become unreadable and useless, in which case, it will likely end up being ignored or deleted immediately. Accommodating mobile users in your email marketing campaign is no longer an option given the vast and unprecedented rise of mobile usage. Fortunately, you can use responsive design templates to help ensure that your newsletters look great on any device, regardless of the screen size.
2. Provide Alt Text for Images
No email newsletter would be complete without some eye-catching visual content, and images and illustrations are an absolute must; after all, we’re not living in the nineties any more. However, a large number of email clients do not display images from unknown senders by default, even though all modern clients, both Web-based and desktop- or mobile-based support HTML content. For this reason, you should always provide Alt text for your images to provide brief textual descriptions of them. Alt text is also useful for displaying descriptive text in place of an image if the image cannot be shown for any other reason, and it is used by screen readers for the visually impaired.
3. Use a Great Call to Action
Since every email newsletter should start out with a clearly defined goal, none would be complete without an irresistible call to action. The call to action ultimately determines whether your newsletter succeeds or not, and it may include something like a free trial signup, a special offer or a purchase button among others. However, although your call to action should be high up in the newsletter’s visual hierarchy, many marketers should also be wary of using excessively bright colours and large buttons, since they tend to look obtrusive and clichéd. You should also stick to providing only one call to action in order to avoid confusion.
4. Avoid Background Images
Background images or patterns can greatly enhance a website or even an email newsletter, but in the case of the latter, it is generally better to avoid them. The problem with background images in emails is that they are not supported by certain email clients, and they take up additional bandwidth. In other cases, a background image may distract your readers and draw their attention away from the content that really matters, and in the worst case scenario, it may even harm the readability of your email. Additionally, always stick to using black text on a white background; it is tried and tested, and almost everyone is used to it.
5. Maintain Your Branding Style
Your newsletters might contain excellent content, but if the style is not consistent with your brand’s image, people will have a hard time remembering you. Your company should already have a distinct branding style in place which it uses not only on its website, but also on all of its other portals, such as social media profiles and directory listings. Typically, you’ll have one or more colours associated with your company, a logo and a certain layout which you tend to go for. Maintaining a consistent style across the board, including in your email newsletters, will help to make your brand more recognizable.
6. Create Scannable Content
It might be frustrating to learn that the majority of Web users skim through content without reading much into your hard work. However, it is a fact, that with their typically short attention spans, most people would rather scan through the content until they find exactly what they’re looking for. Creating scannable content is what sets writing for the Web (or email) apart from writing for print, and any email newsletter should include both images and only as much textual content as is necessary. With regards to the latter, keep your writing to short paragraphs and make extensive use of subheadings.
Any email newsletter should start with a clear goal and a suitable design template that best represents your company and captures the essence of your brand, but don’t forget that the content itself is the single most important element. Finally, be sure to thoroughly test your email newsletters and be prepared to adapt your style and content as necessary.
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