The ultimate goal of any email marketing campaign is to drive conversion, which is why your email templates are critical to achieving this goal. Consider the following 10 fail-proof tips the Holy Grail of email templates design.

Dump the Links. Go for the Buttons

The mistake a lot of people make is to stick with the old tired trends. For digital media, websites used to have links guiding people to points of interest. Now it’s buttons. However, email marketing hasn’t quite caught on and the same old strategies are still being employed in email templates. So instead of a link, try having a button instead. It’s more visually appealing and it’s more engaging.

When designing your template, some people will prefer designing in Photoshop while others will prefer code. Whenever possible, go for code. HTML buttons will download even if the image doesn’t, which happens more often than not since not all users allow for auto image downloads.

Squint Test

Last but not least, there’s the squint test. It’s just about as simple as it sounds: squint your eyes to see which parts of the email template stand out the most. Your call to actions should be the most noticeable when you’re squinting. Squinting allows for the same “quick glance” view that most users have when they’re scanning through emails.

Think of the seven second rule that websites live by: you have 7 seconds to entice your reader. If you can’t manage to rope them in within seven seconds, then you’ve lost them. The audience is a little more discerning for email marketing campaigns. You’re lucky if you have about half that time, particularly in light of the many emails users still need to get through to reach inbox zero.

Follow the Picture

You may have heard of logos that have subliminal designs in them design to get you to associate their brand with a direction or a message. Think of the “happy face” that’s created in Amazon’s logo, which also guides you from “A to Z,” which is just about what they cover – everything from A to Z. A picture is more than just a thousand words. A picture, whether in your logo or in your email marketing campaign, can direct a user to what you want them to see. It can act as an arrow. Take the example here by Alex White, who shows you how the picture of a baby in a retail campaign, is actually serving a dual purpose. Even in a squint test, you can clearly see what the baby is looking at –which is what you’re going to be looking at too.

The face that images can be used in such a strategic way also underscores a point we’ve made several times here: images are a crucial component of your marketing strategy. The image you select can empower or deflate your campaign long before anyone gets to the content. On that note, the layout and design and equally as important. A great image with a poor design is a defeating move. However, great imagery with a powerful design (and compelling content), is going to get you that conversion.