Email design best practices are recommended for a reason: They help engage your readers, convey your message, and (hopefully) convert your subscribers beyond clicks.
Let’s see how design can help increase your email conversions.
Create brand awareness
When I think of effective branding, I think of Tiffany & Co. It’s iconic little blue box says it all. In its email designs, Tiffany uses that blue color to build upon its brand equity.
But it’s about balance, too. Tiffany doesn’t have to shout its brand name. “Tiffany & Co.” is tastefully placed at the top of the email. It doesn’t overpower the product, which certainly takes center stage.
Branding builds recognition and trust with your audience. That leads to sales. You’ve got to earn that trust, however. It doesn’t happen overnight. Over time, consistent messaging – coupled with exemplary products and/or services – will create a level of comfort and trust.
Pay attention to the preview pane
Because many email service providers have preview panes, it’s crucial that your most important message appears in the top left of your email. You’ve basically got 250×250 pixels to work with. It’s challenging. Deal with it.
A picture’s worth a thousand words…
OK, it’s a cliche, but let’s face it. In email marketing, you’ve got to get your point across quickly. Readers spend only seconds on your precious email, so you’ve got to make every aspect count. According to a study by the Nielsen Norman Group, “Email Newsletter Design to Increase Conversion and Loyalty”, 69% of email newsletters are skimmed.
So (sorry, copywriters) you need strong images to catch your readers’ attention. This email from MAC is an example of an eye-catching (pun intended) graphic. It proves that you don’t always need color to be compelling.
… but …
You’ve got to design your emails expecting images to be blocked. That means, for one thing, that you must include alt tags. If you don’t, your email could look like this:
It will be hard to convert a subscriber who has no clue what your email’s about. Alt tags give your subscribers a reason to download the images in your email…click on the email…and make a purchase (or other action).
A word about color
Depending on your audience, color can impact how they respond to your email offer. Kissmetrics has studied how colors can affect conversions. Are you targeting women? Go with blues, purples and greens; avoid orange, brown and gray. Targeting men? Go with blue, green or black; stay away from brown, orange and purple.
Take this Sony email, for example. It’s designed to grab your attention:
Colors are associated with various qualities, so you might want to think about this when incorporating color into your emails. Here are a few to start with, courtesy of Color Wheel Pro, but keep in mind that if you have a global audience, colors take on different significance in other countries.
- Red – Energy, danger, strength, power, passion, desire, love
- Orange - success, encouragement, happiness, creativity, joy
- Yellow - joy, happiness, energy, intellect (avoid dull yellows)
- Green - growth, freshness, fertility, harmony, safety, money (dark green)
- Blue - trust, loyalty, confidence, faith, truth, tranquility (light), power (dark)
- Purple - royalty, nobility, luxury, wealth, creativity, mystery, magic
- White – Safety, purity, perfection, goodness, innocence
- Black – power, formality, elegance, death, evil, mystery
You’ve got to close the sale. In emails, that means you need a prominent call to action. It can’t hurt to be clever, too, as illustrated by this Christmas email. Even the colors are a softer version of the typical red and green. That’s one way to stand out from all the clutter in the inbox – especially at holiday time.
The key takeaway
You won’t have the Email Design Police coming after you if you fail to follow all the rules all the time. In fact, I’d encourage you to break test the rules occasionally. But if you fail to follow the solid practices most of the time, you won’t get the best results from your email campaigns.