If you’ve signed up to an email marketing service like MailChimp, Campaign Monitor or Mad Mimi to help you promote your online store – nice work! You’re on your way to creating a relationship with your customers and subscribers.
But as you flick through all the email templates and designs available to you, you’re probably wondering which to use and how to do a good job. For example, did you know that email design is being influenced by the massive uptake in mobile devices? Around 35% of your emails may be opened on the move, so a mobile-friendly email is essential.
Here are my tips for creating good emails…
Choose a simple HTML template. I’m in favour of one-column layouts as they render well on all kinds of devices and are much easier to read on a smart phone.
Personalise the email. Insert a greeting field into the email so you can address each person by name – research shows personalisation increases response rates. Be friendly too and sign off as a person, not the company.
Try 14pt type for the body copy. It’s easier to read on screen.
Don’t add a lot of images. Images slow down the rate at which an email loads and are often blocked by email services. Use one or two good ones that help you get your message across.
Put the most important information in the first paragraph. It will show up in the preview pane, where most people look to decide if an email is worth opening.
Incorporate a ‘call to action’ (CTA). Don’t be vague. Add an instruction that tells the reader what to do next (ie: “view our autumn sale here”).
Make your CTA buttons big. They need to be large enough to accommodate a thumb click on a smart phone. Try making them at least 44 pixels high.
Use text links as well as graphic buttons for your CTA. That way, if the images don’t appear, the instruction can still be read.
Don’t place buttons or links too close together. It’s really frustrating trying to hit the right one when you’re using a smart phone.
Include social media share buttons in your email. It encourages readers to share the online email with their networks, giving you some free promotion.
Display your physical address and an unsubscribe link at the foot of the email. Most email templates will have this as standard, but do check it’s there.
Put your business name in the ‘from’ field. Your subscribers need to recognise you straight away or you could end up in the trash. Send from an individual email address like email@example.com, and not a generic department like firstname.lastname@example.org
Write a really good subject line – it’s the most important element of your email. Its job is to stand out from all the other emails in the inbox, and make the recipient want to read the contents. Be relevant to them, specific and make the value of the contents obvious. Don’t mislead the reader or they might be tempted to unsubscribe!
As a general rule, avoid using ALL CAPS and clichés, keep it short and get straight to the point.
Proofread and test your email before you send it to your list. Send it to test accounts in Hotmail, Outlook and Gmail etc to ensure it looks OK and your links work. Check how it downloads on a smart phone and a tablet, as well as your PC or Mac.
Work out the best time to email your list. Think about your audience. Are they more likely to read it at work, or at home? Most emails get read in the first hour after sending, so pick the time wisely.
The fun has just begun!
Finally, keep testing and learning how your emails are performing so you can constantly improve. Try splitting your list into two and sending out a slightly different version to each half to find out which one works best!