Email Marketing Design

Five Design Tips for More Engagement

5 design tips for email marketing

Going up? Elevate your email marketing strategy with smart design techniques.

  • Advance past common friction points
  • Encourage engagement
  • Win more business

Less is more with email marketing. If you want to stand out, your goal is potency. Potency is the power to affect the heart and mind.

You don’t get potency with detailed information. Crafting a potent message is a distillation process. It ends with an enticing email that’s on-message with your brand.

Your subscribers are sifting through hundreds of emails. They want to quickly empty their inbox and get back to cat videos. To capture their attention, your message needs to be sharp.

1. Look better in less than 100 words

You can say a lot in under 100 words. Besides, a picture is worth 1,000 words. Your email design will look better with less text and larger graphics. If your recipient’s images are disabled, 100 words are more than enough:

Email marketing template from Rob Knapp Design

2. Use your brand vocabulary

Simplify your wording to streamline and focus your design. What’s the essence of your brand? If you were to base your email design on only a few words, what would they be? It’s an easy, rewarding exercise. Here are some starter ideas:

  • What makes you different from the competition
  • Your core offer
  • Your value proposition
  • Common customer objection points
  • A solution that addresses objections
  • Basic human desires related to your offer
  • Your location
  • What makes you better

3. Just one (or two) things

Want to catch attention? Use simple aesthetics. One photo. One concept. One call-to-action. One color. One font.

Simplification is challenging. It requires discipline and decision-making. If you can’t pick one thing, offer a simple choice: This or that.

4. What’s next? A clear call-to-action

Promotional emails should not be satisfying. They should be enticing. So only serve appetizers. The main course is always somewhere else.

Make it obvious that the value comes next. This will prevent information overload in your email content. If your email looks like an index page, newsletter, product page, article or catalog… you might want to rethink your strategy.

5. Be aware of your own behavior

Have you received a promotional email and engaged? Yep, me too.

Emulate the email formats that work for you. What appeals to you might appeal to your audience as well.

When you receive a promotional email that you like, save it. When you’re designing your own emails, reference the ones you like the most.

Want to know more about email design?

Learn how I created an email marketing campaign 2,080% more effective than average.

Strategy Guide

Authentic Marketing guide

FAQ: email marketing design

What about responsive email design?
Simple emails don’t require sophisticated responsive HTML code. They don’t need to transform. Simplicity travels well and displays correctly on nearly all devices.

Responsive techniques are only necessary when email layouts are complex. The culprit is usually a two column layout (or main content with a sidebar). The safest, catchall solution is to use larger text in a single column design. Problem solved, digital origami avoided.

But if you must have responsive email design, it’s not that difficult to execute with most drag-n-drop builders. Keep in mind that it’s not foolproof and some presentation errors are unavoidable.

Where should I put my logo?
Short answer: It doesn’t matter where you put your logo. Unless your brand has serious clout, your logo probably won’t influence an email’s effectiveness. On the flip side, don’t omit it. Your logo is a trust indicator that provides familiarity.

What aspect ratio works best?
Your email should be shorter than 9×16 portrait. The current email standard is between 600 and 700 pixels wide. For example, if your layout is 645 pixels wide, it should be shorter than 1150 pixels tall. Newsletters tend to be longer, but most marketing messages should be brief and focused.

What makes a good subject line?
Once again, shorter is better. Whatever makes a good title for a blog post is a potential candidate for your subject line. If you’re running a sale, put the offer in the subject line. Numbers work well, too. Peaking curiosity is also a solid tactic.

What kind of results can I expect from better design?
You’ll get slightly higher open rates and about twice the click-throughs. The open rate goes up because better design improves overall clarity. The click-through rate jumps up because of better usability. Simpler emails are more engaging and get more clicks.

What’s the biggest mistake small businesses make?
Too much information. It’s just an email. And like all emails, brevity works best.

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