If you read our blog on How to get started with Email Marketing, you learned the importance of setting goals for your campaigns, and putting together a content plan. Next comes the fun part, designing and adding your content to the email template.

When it comes to designing your first email template, most small businesses don’t have the luxury to have an in-house designer. But don’t let that stop you, by following these five design tips you will have the basic components that every design professional follows. Use these five email design tips and start designing like a pro today.

1. Make it visual

Getting started, you can browse through the existing templates found on Mail Chimp and Constant Contact. What is great about this is, mostly all the pre-existing templates are already mobile responsive and contain the needed HTML to be email client compatible. With over 50% of emails being opened on mobile devices, it’s imperative that your email performs well for mobile users.

Choose your imagery wisely. Although it might be easier to use generic stock photography, you will find that users will engage more with genuine and relevant imagery. Get some great inspiration by taking a look at the top 50 best email marketing designs.

One thing to keep in mind is the size and placement of photos. You can use images to reflect hierarchy within the email layout. For example, the first image below the header could be presented as the featured story while the others smaller photos are displayed as additional articles.

2. Font does matter

It is important to choose a font that is supported by the majority of email clients. Although the newer fonts may look nicer and provide a more elegant look, email marketers beware: the majority of email clients won’t support the newer fonts so make sure your font of choice is a web safe font. Here are the top three web safe fonts:

1. Arial
2. Helvetica
3. Times New Roman

When choosing a font, some common questions that you should ask yourself to help with the decision making process are:

  • Is it easy to read the content?
  • Will you use multiple font types or font families within an email?
  • What is the voice and tone of the content?

3. Content

How the content in your email is formatted is almost just as important as the content itself. Here are some tips on how to best format your email:

Use Notepad
Before adding your content into your email its important you always copy your content into Notepad or an IDE such as Atom. Many first time email marketers make the mistake of copying and pasting from Microsoft Word. The content produced in Word usually does not play well with web browsers and will cause display and alignment issues.

Use Links
To help capture email readers interests it is best to include additional links within the body of your content. The links should be relevant to the content that you are sharing. The best practice is to lead the user to the content that is on your website. Links should be stylized as underlined in order to stand out to the reader.

Use Headlines
The use of headlines organizes your content and creates an easy to read layout. Be sure to use bolder headlines to introduce users to a new section. The use of headlines help readers scan your content more easily and narrow it down to what they are most interested in.

Small Text Blocks
The use of small blocks of text is most commonly used to display calls to action. The call to action intends to entice a reader to perform a specific action. Usually that is having users click to your landing page or website for the full content.

Less is more
One of the biggest mistakes in design is adding too many design elements. Too many images, call to actions, or even content that will distract the user. The layout should be designed in a way that is clean and provides clear direction on where the user should go. White space, also known as negative space, subliminally allows users to scan content and process content in an easy to read way.

Be consistent
If key design elements are altered each time this will negatively affect your brand because it won’t be recognizable to your audience. Be consistent in your design template and align your template with the brand guidelines, including; logo placement, colors, and typefaces.

Stick to the design basics:

  • Make it visually appealing
  • Choose a readable font
  • Format your content

Stay tuned for our next blog on how to test your email design. We will be providing a testing checklist for you to use as a reference to check your emails.