5 tips for best-in-class email design

“You know what the difference is between you and me? I make this look good.”

Now, we might not all be as effortlessly cool as Will Smith when he uttered these words in the 90s’ smash hit Men in Black but, when it comes to email marketing, looking good can go a long way to helping you get the results you want.

Email design has evolved beyond recognition in a relatively short space of time. Ten years ago, email design was seen as witchcraft and wizardry that only the experts could tackle and do well. Now, there are dozens of platforms and thousands of templates that anyone can use to design an email.

However, just because we can do something, it doesn’t always necessarily mean we should.

Popular platforms like MailChimp have empowered users to build and design their own email marketing campaigns. While this is something we very much welcome, the results can be hit and miss. For every well designed email campaign there are countless car crashes where basic design principles have been thrown out the window.


So what does great design in email marketing look like and how can it be achieved?

Before we answer the question, let’s take a quick step back. Everything always starts with purpose and email marketing is no different. Understanding the purpose of your email marketing campaigns is the first step to get right and will play a huge influence in the design of your campaigns.

Are you trying to sell something? Do you want people to click through to your website? Or are you simply looking to tell your story and build relationships with your subscribers?

Furthermore, you should consider your subscribers - what do they want and how can you give it to them? And when are you going to send your campaign? There could be a big difference between a campaign sent on a Sunday afternoon - when, typically, people have more time - to a Monday morning when people might be rushing.

The better you understand your audience, the better the decisions you’ll make when it comes to designing your emails.

As for the design itself, there are two key considerations to make:

1) Badly designed email campaigns that aren’t ‘on brand’ can significantly erode credibility and trust in your brand. If they aren’t consistent with the aesthetic of your website and socials then they can undermine what you’re trying to achieve. Remember, when people open your email campaigns it’s a one-on-one experience between you and them - whether your campaign is going to 10,000 or 100,000 subscribers. So give them the kind of positive experience they’ll remember.

2) Design matters but don’t let it get in the way of communication. Email campaigns can be over-engineered and over-designed leading to a poor experience and the message being lost. Good design makes communication simple and seamless; it enhances communication rather than hindering it.

With this in mind, what are the top tips from our experts for creating great looking email marketing campaigns?


1. Stand out from the crowd

Templates are great but they offer a ‘one size fits all’ approach which, if you’re a brand that wants to stand out from the crowd, can be limiting. Tried and tested designs can be effective but if you really want to stand out then you have to push boundaries and give your subscribers something they haven’t seen before. You have a limited time to grab - and hold - their attention. Design that goes beyond a standard single-column template is a great way to do this. 

 


2. Sometimes simple works

Having said that, sometimes simple design is the most effective. Go back to your purpose and let that lead the direction you want your design to go in. A simple ‘postcard’ email with an image, a line or two of text, and a call-to-action button can often be the best way of getting your subscribers to click-through to your website. Don’t be afraid to test different layouts to see what gives you the best results.


3. Get animated

A sure-fire way to stand out from the crowd is by working animation into your design. According to Marketing Sherpa, using animated images in an email campaign can increase revenue by up to 109%, click rate by 42%, and conversion rate by 103%. Check out our Lookbook for examples of animated GIFs in email marketing campaigns.


4. Ignore mobile at your peril

It’s imperative you take into consideration how your email campaigns will look on mobile devices. It varies between different companies but, on average, we see a 70/30 split between mobile and desktop views - which is why it’s so important your campaigns look great (and work perfectly) on mobile devices.


5. Bring in the experts

Great design can take years to perfect and it’s changing all the time. Keeping on top of it is tough. That’s why it pays to bring in the experts. At Jarrang, we’ve been designing emails for nearly 20 years and we can do things others can’t. We can push boundaries, give you continuity across all your marketing channels, and build bespoke templates crafted specifically for you.


This means you can look better than your competitors, have a design that works brilliantly across all devices and, ultimately, get more engagement and conversions.


Tune in to the latest episode of our podcast with branding and design expert, Thad Cox, and our very own, Conor Wilson, to find more about the importance of design and branding in email marketing.


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Tommy Tonkins
Tommy Tonkins

Tommy is our former Head of Content and now a freelance writer working with businesses around the world to help them tell their stories. He guest blogs for Jarrang from time to time.

Tommy Tonkins
Tommy Tonkins

Tommy is our former Head of Content and now a freelance writer working with businesses around the world to help them tell their stories. He guest blogs for Jarrang from time to time.

Published:
April 7, 2021
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