It’s amazing how many horribly designed emails are floating around out there. If you don’t want to be listed among the failmail marketers make sure that your emails use all ten of these design tactics.

  1. F it. Get your mind out of the gutter. The latest scientific research has proven that the human brain scans your email in the pattern of the letter F. Therefore if you want your key elements to have the maximum impact place them at the top of your email, with possibly one or so of them along the left side edge. Place what you don’t want anyone to see at the bottom right.
  2. Bye bye background. Since an inordinate number of clients will not display a background image, then just skip it. When was the last time you saw a background image on anything but Bing anyway? And we all know what happened to Steve Ballmer.
  3. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Structure your emails like a conventional web page (and in the same way you’ve crafted your landing page… I hope). Don’t try to concoct new and futuristic ways of navigating around as the good ol’ standard nav bar links are still the best way to get around a page.
  4. The ink is black, the paper white … together we learn to read and write. But this isn’t printing so back off the #000000 to a medium gray for most of your text. Straight black on a white background is hard on the eyes so give your readers a break and ease up on the high contrast.
  5. The back is black, the ink is white … you’d better get ready for a bankruptcy flight. Set your background to solid black, now place your text in pure white. Congratulations. You couldn’t have created a layout that is more despicable than if you had marquee text against a rotating kaleidoscope background.
  6. Just an old fashioned font song …playing on the email, oh! Ok, enough Three Dog Night references that date me to the Jurassic Rock period. There’s only a handful of standard system fonts, so use them. Yes, Google web fonts are great but wait until you see your email on a phone that doesn’t support them and you’ll be sorry you ever heard of them.
  7. Wide Load. By tarnation, I spent good money for my 2560 x 1600 monitor and I’m going to use up every single horizontal pixel if it kills me… or my company for that matter! Remember those old 640 x 480 monitors? Yeah, now make sure that your email would fit on one of those with 40 horizontal pixels to spare! To do anything else is to commit mobile suicide.
  8. Break it up, break it up. You’re not writing a technical manual for a nuclear power plant, so give your readers a break by breaking up the text. The optimal amount of text before a subhead break was once believed to be 6 sentences but now it’s as short as two sentences. Open up your layouts with lots of white space punctuated by subheads to make your email look light and airy, as well as easy to scan.
  9. Which way did they go, pardner? If you don’t know then you can bet that your customers don’t either, so show them with arrows. Lots and lots of arrows that point out what they should be looking at, where they should go next, and how to navigate around your email.
  10. Say it don’t show it. It may seem impossible to believe but I received an email from a fairly large company and the call to action was an image… yes, only an image. That means that all of my fellow recipients with images off saw nothing as there wasn’t even an alt text. The lesson from this misstep? Do I really have to tell you?

Apply all of these top ten tactics to your email design and not only will you be doing your recipients a favor, but they will reply with more of those precious conversions you covet!