Do’s and Don’ts of Template Design

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At Emailcenter we constantly get asked for top tips for designing email templates, and we like to think we know a thing about it. Email isn’t the same as other mediums, so here are our top do’s and don’ts to follow:

1. Don’t make me think

In the inbox you only have a few seconds to grab the readers attention. It’s a busy place and our time is precious. It’s all too easy to hit delete and move onto the next message.

Therefore make your messages easy to digest and understand. Make it obvious of how to act with clear call-to-actions, yet don’t overdo it – too many call-to-actions and the choice may become bewildering and lead to no-action.

2. Do keep the key content ‘above the fold’

If you have ever looked at one of our heatmap reports in Maxemail you will probably have seen that nearly all the clicks are at the top of the email. This isn’t a coincidence – it’s the first thing recipients see, and if they don’t like what they see they won’t scroll. Make sure the main content and call-to-actions are entirely visible at the point of open – for some screens and preview panes this might only be half the height of the screen, so design accordingly.

3. Don’t ignore mobile

Nearly all our clients see half of their emails opened on a mobile device. Ignoring this may lead to your emails read on mobiles being hard to read and call-to-actions difficult to click. Yes your customers might ‘pinch & zoom’ – but it is far better to deliver an optimised experience for them. One way you can do this is to use Responsive Design techniques such as the Maxemail email builder, where if the email is opened on a mobile the whole layout can be changed accordingly. Download our Mobile Friendly Email Design Guide to get started.

4. Do have clear call-to-actions throughout your email

At every point where a customer finds something of interest in your email you should give them the clear option to click. Going back to not making them think, make it clear and obvious what action they should take. Avoid ‘click here’ but go for action based text such as ‘Request a quote’ or ‘Find out more’, while also making the colour contrast, a reason why so many call-to-action buttons are orange!


5. Don’t forget to test across multiple devices

Some of us in the team are old enough to remember Lotus Notes and have the odd grey hair to prove it. The younger guys think we are more like those grandparents telling kids how they didn’t have sweets but got by on chewing on wood ‘back in our day’. But it is true – we had nightmares getting any HTML email to look even vaguely recognisable in Lotus Notes. We are lucky nowadays that Lotus Notes is used by virtually no-one but there are still things that cause a bit of bother. Remember to run your email code through a checking tool like our Inbox Preview in Maxemail which shows exactly how your email will render.

6. Do make your email scannable

No-one reads every email – we scan them looking to see if they are worthy of our precious time. To help with this, break your email into clear sections using headers and irregular shapes. Use images to tell the story – after all a picture is worth a thousand words. And white space is your friend, helping the eye clearly see your key messages rather than being hidden within all the clutter.

7. Don’t write war and peace

Long emails might be┬ábig but they’re not that clever. While it might look like you have put in loads of work, your customers won’t appreciate it – they probably won’t even scroll to the bottom, so save yourself some effort and keep your emails clear and concise.

8. Do include navigation links

Sometimes the email you send has unintended results – you might be emailing them about your latest products but just seeing your email might remind them to go and purchase something from you they had been thinking about. Make it easy for customers by including links to key parts of your website at the top of the email in a navigation bar, and you will see up to 1/3 of clicks on these links.

For more information on how to create the perfect email templates, get in touch with one of our experts today on 01327 811 884.