If you’re in digital marketing, I’m certain you’ve heard or read about the ongoing debate about mobile optimized email template vs responsive design email. In my opinion, there are arguments to be made for or against both, so I won’t get into that debate today. Regardless, as a digital marketer, you should be looking at your email creative with a critical eye, and holding your design team or agency accountable for several key best practices.
The challenge for marketing strategist and traditional marketers now leading digital efforts is that while the principles of marketing remain the same, the user experience has radically changed over the years. This has technical implications. As a marketer, you need to be aware of these technical implications and make sure your creative is optimized to deliver the results you need.
Impact of the Preview Pane:
For example, according to a 2010 Lyris survey, 55% of email readers open your email based on what they see within their preview pane.
I don’t know what are the most recent statistics, but in the corporate environment, having a preview pane is a pretty standard practice. On top of that, when you consider how many users are now checking email on a mobile device, there are some significant considerations in regards to how your design is impacting your open and click rates. So, with that said, here are 7 key email template design tips that will help drive engagement with your target list:
- An obvious one, but better to be explicit — make sure you include a visual brand (logo, color scheme, graphics). This drives recognition and assuming you’ve built positive brand sentiment, it should help improve your open rates. Of course, this should tie in with your “From” line.
- Make your email layouts readable and usable on small screens, scaled or not. That means you need to pay attention to font sizes, and your CTA button sizes.
- Put the most important content in the top-left 300 pixels to account for user preview pane. This is what we call the “sweet spot”.
- Take default image suppression settings into account in your email design. In addition to where you place your most important content, consider how default image-suppression can impact your user’s ability to even read your content.So, in the above example, if the user’s settings were set to not display images (default setting in most cases), then the “home improvement” headline would not even be readable in the preview pane. Considering using system-text or HTML for key headlines or value-proposition copy to ensure it’s readable regardless if the images display or not.
- No more than 3 columns for secondary content and beyond. Because the viewing screen might be significantly small, you want to avoid complex layouts that just won’t render comfortably on a small screen.
- Use strong action-oriented language and visuals on primary CTA. This means that it should be obvious what you’re asking your customers to do, both in terms of the copy and the visual layout.
- Keep the overall design width to no wider than 600 pixels. Again, this is to ensure comfortable reading experience for small mobile screens.
That’s it. 7 relatively simple things you can keep in mind and hold your designers accountable when they are creating email for your marketing efforts. Research shows that users are significantly more likely to unsubscribe from your email list if they open an email that does not render correctly on their mobile device. And in case you’re not convinced mobile devices are here to stay, here is a quote from a ReturnPath blog post in December 2012 that puts it in perspective.
In just two years, emails opened on a mobile device jumped 300%. When Return Path released the last mobile email study, opening emails on a mobile device was about to overcome both desktop email clients, such as Outlook and Apple Mail, and opening email on a webmail account on a browser. In April 2012, email open habits were virtually identical for smartphones, webmail and email clients. Mobile leaped into first place in May by one full percentage, and sees no sign of slowing anytime soon.
I would encourage you to take a log at your Google Analystics report for your website, and look at how much of your traffic is already coming from mobile devices. You can also look at your email service provider reports to asses how many of your emails are already being opened via a mobile device. Always a good idea to know whats going on.