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Mastering the Art of Email Marketing Design

Email marketing remains one of the oldest yet most effective communication methods for a business. In fact, there are over 4 billion daily email users, and email’s return on investment (ROI) is an impressive $36 USD for every $1 USD spent.

However, in an age of information overload and short attention spans, it’s not enough to have a great offer or valuable content. 

Your email marketing design plays a pivotal role in capturing your subscribers’ attention, keeping them engaged, and, ultimately, driving the desired actions. 

Let’s explore the art and science of email marketing design to help you create emails that not only look good but also deliver results.

Understand your audience

Before you start designing your email campaigns, it’s crucial to understand your audience. Different demographics and segments will have varying preferences when it comes to design. 

Are your subscribers primarily millennials who prefer minimalistic design, or do they belong to an older age group that may appreciate a more traditional aesthetic? 

If you haven’t already, conduct surveys, analyse data, and build customer personas to get a clear picture of your audience’s preferences. This will not only lay the foundations for how you communicate visually but also for the language and tone of voice you use.

Captivate with visual appeal

People are naturally drawn to visually appealing content. A well-designed email, with imagery and graphics that support the key message, can make the email more engaging and memorable.

Below, we’ve unpacked nine ways to make your email more visually appealing.

1. Consistent branding

Consistency is key to building trust and recognition. Your email design should reflect your brand’s identity, using your brand colours, logo, and fonts. When subscribers see your email, they should immediately recognise it as coming from your brand. This not only builds trust but also reinforces brand loyalty.

2. Font choices

Speaking of fonts, using the right fonts is crucial for email design. Stick to web-safe fonts that are easily read across different devices and email platforms. A good combination typically includes a sans-serif font for the body text and a contrasting serif font or a bolder font for headings. 

If your brand fonts are unavailable within your email marketing platform, choose one that looks similar. Your brand should always include alternate web-safe fonts for times when your brand font may not be available. 

3. Create a visual hierarchy

When designing your email, it’s important to guide the reader’s eye through a visual hierarchy. The most critical information should be prominently displayed, and the layout should flow naturally from top to bottom. 

Utilise font sizes, colours, and formatting to emphasise the key message, call to action, and important content. A clear hierarchy ensures you communicate the primary message even to those who skim your email.

4. Attractive imagery

Images are powerful tools in email design. Use high-quality, relevant images that resonate with your content. From product photos to lifestyle images and illustrations, ensure your visuals add value to your message. 

Remember, not all email platforms display images by default due to security reasons, so use alt text to convey the message even if the images don’t load. This is also an important accessibility feature for those with visual impairments. 

5. Use of white space

White space, or negative space, is an essential element of design. It’s the empty space around and between elements that provides visual breathing room. Don’t clutter your emails with too much content or design elements. Give your emails room to breathe, making them easier to read, less overwhelming and more visually appealing.

6. Animated elements

Incorporating subtle animations, such as GIFs or CSS animations, can bring life to your email design. Use animations to draw attention to key points or create a sense of movement. However, be careful not to overdo it, as excessive animation can distract and annoy recipients.

7. Accessibility

We briefly touched on accessibility above. Website and email accessibility is not only a legal requirement in many countries but also a way to ensure that your content is inclusive and available to all subscribers. 

Design your emails with accessibility in mind, including proper alt text for images, high-contrast text, and easy-to-navigate layouts. 

8. Mobile optimisation

According to Hubspot, most email views come from mobile devices (41%), followed by desktops (39%).

People check their emails on various devices, so it’s essential to ensure your emails are responsive. If your emails don’t display correctly on smaller screens, you will likely lose your audience’s interest. 

Make sure your email design is responsive, with legible fonts, images that scale appropriately, and clickable buttons that are finger-friendly.

9. Email footer

Your email footer is valuable real estate. Include your logo, contact information, and links to your website and social media profiles. This not only enhances your brand presence but also provides a convenient way for recipients to get in touch or explore your online presence further.

Make it easy for subscribers to follow you on their favourite platforms or share your content with their network. Use attractive icons and well-designed buttons to make the process seamless.

Engage with great content

While this topic is about email design, there are a few other crucial features to an email.

Often, your name as the sender, the subject line and the preview text are the first things your audience will see. You need to ensure these are engaging enough to make them want to open your email. You’ll also want to keep them reading with a good story and get them to take the next step with a compelling call to action.

We’ve broken down the non-visual elements you must consider when creating your email.

1. Personalisation

According to HubSpot, the most effective strategies for email marketing campaigns are subscriber segmentation (78%) and message personalisation (72%). 

Make sure your subscribers feel like the email was crafted just for them. Use their first name in the salutation, segment your email lists to send tailored content, and include personalised product recommendations or special offers based on their previous interactions with your brand.

2. Catchy subject lines

The first thing your subscribers see is the subject line. A well-crafted subject line can be the deciding factor for whether your email gets opened or ignored. Use engaging language, a touch of personalisation, and a sense of urgency when crafting your subject lines. Make sure the design of your email complements the subject line’s promise or theme.

3. Compelling Calls to Action (CTAs)

The ultimate goal of your email is to drive action, and your calls to action (CTAs) play a crucial role in achieving this. Design your CTAs to be eye-catching, with clear and concise copy that conveys the benefit of clicking. Use button design best practices, such as contrasting colours and hover effects, to make them more interactive.

4. Storytelling

Incorporate storytelling in your email. People connect with stories, and a well-crafted narrative can make your emails more engaging. Whether it’s a success story, a customer testimonial, or a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your business, storytelling adds a human touch to your emails.

5. Engaging headlines and subheadings

Make your headlines and subheadings both compelling and informative. The email’s main message should be included in these elements, giving readers a clear idea of what the email is about. 

Optimise and test

Before sending out your emails to your entire list, thoroughly test them. Send test emails to various email clients (Outlook, Gmail, etc.) and devices to ensure they display correctly. 

Get feedback from team members or a focus group to gain valuable insights. Continuously review and refine your email designs based on the feedback you receive.

By understanding your audience, employing visual hierarchy, utilising compelling elements like imagery and CTAs, and staying consistent with your brand, you can create emails that captivate, inform, and persuade. 

Regularly testing and optimising your designs, along with embracing best practices for mobile optimisation and accessibility, will ensure that your emails remain effective and stand out in a crowded inbox. 

Remember that email marketing is an evolving communication method, so stay updated with the latest trends to maintain your competitive edge and keep your subscribers engaged.

If you need support with your email marketing campaigns, get in touch with us.

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