This guest post about email design tips is written by Hawke Media partner, Budai Media. Budai Media is an ecommerce email marketing agency founded on the belief that every modern company should focus on their most loyal customers in order to thrive in a challenging ecommerce environment. Learn more about becoming a Hawke Media Partner.
While conversion-focused website design got more attention recently, email design is still a neglected topic in the digital marketing community.
The two areas are closer to each other than you’d think.
Why? Because the user is the same before the screen.
The same psychological principles apply just on a different platform. Most email marketers and copywriters say copy is the alpha and omega of email conversion.
But I think it’s only partly true.
You can’t ignore email design when you create high-converting emails because they increase your conversion rate and the user experience if it’s done correctly. Humans are visual creatures and process visual information incomparably faster than text. It directs the attention of your reader where you want it immediately.
Use a great copy with a perfect design, and it will surpass the results of a plain text copy every single day.
Optimizing for Devices
1. Be mobile-first and start your design process optimizing to a mobile screen. 80% of users open their emails on mobile. Test your emails on different devices and screen sizes to ensure compatibility.
2. Use emails with a width of 600px. 600px has long been the standard for many desktop email clients, and it also works well for most mobile and web-based email clients. It provides a nice balance of fitting most screens comfortably while still providing enough room to include a decent amount of content.
Forcing your subscribers to scroll from side to side is the kiss of death for an email’s response rate.
3. Clean and Simple Design: Most readers are in scanner mode when they check their emails, so you want your copy as easily digestible as possible. Avoid cluttering the email with too many elements.
Stick to a clean, simple design that’s easy to navigate. Use white space effectively to make your email easy to read. Try to start each sentence on a new line with a space between them.
It’s gonna give readability to your text.
4. Provide tappable cell phone numbers and support email addresses so people can easily contact you
Crafting Your Call-To-Action
5. Every email should have a clear, compelling CTA that prompts the reader to take the desired action. This might be to visit your website, make a purchase, sign up for a webinar, etc.
6. Put the first call-to-action above the fold. People will quickly judge whether your email is worth reacting to or not.They don’t want to scroll through the whole email to find your CTA.
7. Give CTA text padding: the standard is 20px. Make CTAs easily tappable: at least 44px size.
8. Use 3 different call-to-action links.
People are different in many ways, and this is true when it comes to the type of links they prefer (as strange as it sounds).
Some people are visual, while others prefer text or buttons. Use one link in all three different formats.
Add a link to an image if they click that, add one to a CTA button, and add a link to a part of the copy too. It’ll increase your click-through rates.
9. Focus on CTA Design: Your CTA button should stand out. Use contrasting colors, actionable language, and an appropriate size. Place it strategically where it’s easy for the reader to find.
10. Limit the Number of CTAs: Don’t forget: people usually spend less than 5 seconds with an email. Ask yourself: can this email design achieve my purpose in 5 seconds? Make large CTAs with great contrast. These are critical to elicit action on the part of the user. While it’s good to give options, too many CTAs can overwhelm or confuse the reader. It’s generally better to focus on one primary action you want them to take.
Design for Easy Consumption
11. Design Hierarchy: The most critical information should be at the top of the email. This information should catch the reader’s eye and encourage them to keep reading. Use bold or larger fonts, color contrast, or an image to draw attention.
12. F-Pattern or Z-Pattern Layouts: People typically scan content in an F or Z pattern, so placing key elements along these scan lines can help make sure they’re noticed.
For an F-pattern layout, align your content to the left. Jakob Nielsen, the web usability expert, pointed out that most people don’t read web content. Instead, they just scan it from the left side to the right.
He tracked more than 1.5 million eye movements of 300 net users and concluded that things on the left side get more attention then on the right side. Use this principle to improve your conversion rates.
For a Z-pattern, place important elements at the top, middle, and bottom right. ; the Z-pattern makes your eyes work while you’re going down to the button.
13. Use 1 or 2 columns in the email. Email is not a huge broadsheet.
14. Inverted Pyramid Structure: Design your email in the shape of an inverted pyramid: start broad with a compelling headline, narrow down with supportive information and images, then conclude with a focused CTA. The pyramid leads your eyes to the call-to-action button.
15. Bullet Points and Subheadings: These help break up the text, making it easier for readers to skim and understand your message quickly.
16. Be careful with your choice of fonts. Stick to a maximum of 2-3 different types, and ensure they’re easy to read.
17. Also, the size should be appropriate for reading on both desktop and mobile devices. Usually, 14-16px is recommended for body text. You don’t want people to start zooming your emails because they won’t.
- The ideal body copy is between 14 and 16 point.
- Header font size should be around 22-28 px.
- Line height should be around 1.4-1.5 times more than the font size for best readability.
18. Use a maximum of two fonts in the email. Simplicity is key. You don’t want your email to become overly complicated and hard to digest.
The best fonts in emails, which are supported by almost all email platforms, are:
- Lucida Sans
- Lucida Console
- Times New Roman
Tip: don’t use Google fonts; they are not supported by most email platforms.
Branding and Consistency
19. You always want to include your social media icons. Some subscribers don’t read emails and will unsubscribe. But you want these people to keep in touch through different channels such as Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.
20. Take care of the big picture. The design of your email should fit with your website. Fonts, colors, structure, type of images, type of CTA buttons. If they see a gorgeous email with beautiful photography and they arrive at a dull website without images… Ughh! They’ll feel bad.
21. Have consistent branding assets. Create an email template that you’ll use again and again in the future. People will get used to your header and footer style and instantly recognize you. They’ll look forward to receiving your next email if you provide great content.
Imagery and Videos
22. Try to avoid putting important elements (CTA button, headline) on big images, because if the email platform doesn’t support images, people won’t see these. It’s a common mistake to put everything on a big, nice image (the whole email is an image) and send it out.
Always ask yourself: will people buy if they can’t see the image?
23. Alt Text for Images: Some email clients block images by default. Use alt text for every image, so even if the images don’t load, the reader will know what they’re supposed to be.
24. Embedded video is not supported in email, so use GIFs. I can’t emphasize enough how great they are! In most cases, they increase the conversion by 20%!
Their motion breaks the boring pattern of emails most people get. Make sure your GIF is under 1 MB and easy to digest. Big GIFs are not supported by email platforms.
If you need to embed videos, use a static thumbnail image of the video and add a play button. People like clicking these, and when they click, direct them to your website or wherever you want them to watch your video.
25. Doooooon’t use low-quality images!! Check out websites like shutterstocks.com for free high-quality images if you don’t have your own photography. However, avoid using images with huge file sizes. It takes ages to load, which you don’t want to happen.
The One Takeaway
These are the top 25 email design tips I want to share with you after sending out close to 500 million marketing emails for ecommerce businesses. The priority is to stay conversion-focused. Ideally, you must track KPIs such as your click rate or unsubscribe rate which are insightful numbers about your content.
But besides, always keep in mind your subscribers and if they are able to digest your email in a few seconds even on mobile and go to your website to take action. If you follow these principles, your email results will achieve new heights in the next weeks and months.
By the way, if you want to get the top 100 highest-converting emails my team created for more than 150 ecommerce businesses in the past years, you can get this collection for free (and I share all the numbers of the emails).
In case you need help with the implementation of email marketing, let’s talk. My team and I have generated 60M+ extra revenue for ecommerce clients up to date and we have a few more spots every month.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Daniel Budai helps ecommerce companies with retention marketing through his agency, Budai Media. His team and he have worked with 150+ ecommerce companies (and counting) generating $55M+ extra revenue for these companies (e.g. Olympvs, Eat2Explore, JuvaBun, Stiga Sports). His unique retention marketing strategy combines email, SMS, Messenger, loyalty programs, and even physical mail. When not helping ecommerce companies, Daniel enjoys traveling, running, or drinking an Americano in a small café with a book.