Breaking myths on email design

It is time to clarify matters on a subject that at plain sight looks simple enough, but ends up provoking headaches in company’s marketers around the globe.

“Image is nothing” was the slogan of a famous soft drink brand only a few years ago.

Even while not being as definitive as that catchphrase was, we can still conclude that the “looks” of an HTML is just a part of its whole success. An important part, definitely, but it still requires the implementation of different variables that will further decide its result.

Five years ago, while meeting with clients, we emphasized on key design spots, like the mandatory inclusion of a preheader with a clear and specific call to action (CTA), to reach recipients who do not spend a whole lot of time viewing the email in a more effective way.

Said CTA eventually benefited engagement, given that Internet Service Providers started enabling previews of the first lines of code even before the subscribers open the message.

The preheader should also include a web version link, that allows fast access for users whose ISP is not downloading images or blocks them. In this same scenario, adding Alt tags is a must, and they need to provide a precise description so clients can understand what are the “invisible” representations trying to tell them.

The navigation menu, which needs to be appended just under the brand’s banner or logo, not only contributes to a tangible improvement in CTR (Clickthrough Rate), but it is also useful to provide a wider range of options to the reader, thus avoiding a repetition of the isolated message.

Only 25% of the users take more than 8 seconds to hover around an email, which indicates a lower than expected “scroll down” rate. Because of this, the main communication needs to have a visible CTA at the top part of the body, to make sure recipients can be redirected to the company’s strategic “goal” page. They should always be clear and specified.

As we have mentioned on previous articles, ISPs compel massive marketers to be much more relevant nowadays. Based on that, Gmail (a pioneer on deliverability) created a tab division in their inbox a few years ago (Outlook replicated it later), which caused the majority of the newsletters to fall under the “Promotions” tab, originating a 13% unique open rate decrease in there.

Firms from different industries constantly tried to stop that drop, which led to extensive testing and “trial and error” cases. An example that delivered good results was giving out incentives (such as vouchers or discounts) to make the consumer accept receiving those mailings in the “Primary” tab.

Social networks keep getting incremental clicks to improve footer performance, such as likes, shares or tweets. Explaining why a subscriber is receiving the newsletter has become more necessary given the many recent laws that have been molding deliverability across different continents.

Opt out should be simple and straightforward, one click only, without forcing the disappointed user to go through an awkward process, which can lead to hard complaints that can cause filters to blacklist the sender address or IP.

Layout should be constructed with tables, and all elements need to have flexible width and responsive design, taking into account that the majority of newsletters are being currently read on mobile devices. Content columns should also have proportional width (setup at width’s 100%) and be able to collapse when visualized in smaller devices.

Css background images must not be used in text content blocks, as they are not readable in every email client. If the need is to have text on the images, they need to be there when designing them.

These tips can help businesses obtain better conversion rates. Applying and prioritizing them when building a new communication structure, without neglecting the campaign’s overall meaning, can easily maximize the precious return on investment that everybody is craving for.