When conducting an email marketing campaign, it’s important each email design take into consideration best practices. These design tips and best practices will help you maximize your results and improve overall subscriber engagement.

Example Campaign

Below is an example of a email I received from Apple promoting the iPad. Apple uses some great visuals in their campaigns with a clear call to action button at the top. They also include the brand logo in the top left and company information below so you know who sent the email. Apple also provides a link to opt-out of the subscriber list if you wish to do so.

Apple is an example of a company using many best practices for email marketing. Lets take a look in more detail into ways you can improve you email designs.

Subject Line

Make sure your email subject line is something that will draw in the recipient to read more. A creative, short, clear subject line is the key to getting your emails opened and can greatly improve you overall campaign performance.

Good: 5 Ways to Improve Your Email Campaigns
Poor: Email marketing news alert : how to make a better campaign by improving your subject lines, copy and images


Your greeting should be personalized and generally more formal than not.

Good: Dear Joe,
Poor: Joe Smith:
Poor: Hello [space], (did not merge first name)

Body Copy & Images

Your body copy should be in HTML text rather than images. Most email browsers will only display ALT text where images exist when first opened with the option to load images. It’s important to display as much copy as possible before loading images. Email open rates overall are declining, so every opportunity to get your message through must be used to your advantage. Simply slicing up your design and blasting out a campaign will not do these days. There needs to be a clear design strategy for getting the most out of every campaign.

You images should include ALT text that helps describe the image or text heading within the image. The ALT text will appear where your images are located before enabled by the email recipient. Images should also be relatively small in size to allow for faster loading. I recommend optimizing your images by slicing and reducing image quality without sacrificing too much detail in the design. A good rule is if your total images add up to more than 150 KB, the email images are too large and should be reduced if possible.

Above the Fold & Call-to-Action

An email’s ability to increase click through rates and convert is closely tied to an email’s call-to-action. It is also important where that call to action falls in the body of the email. What’s called “above the fold” can be anywhere from 300 pixels in height to 500 pixels depending on the email browser the subscriber is using. A great way to find out is by testing your call to action placement in your campaign to see where the magical “above the fold” exists. Testing your emails is key to improving performance and seeing results. To see how your email browser renders HTML elements, try the Email Standard Council’s acid test.

Signature, Opt-Out & CAN-SPAM

Your overall email, signature and opt-out message will need to follow the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Act. Visit FTC.gov for more information. Each email should have an email signature that clearly states who and where the email is coming from. If your subscribers choose to opt-out of your email list, they should be able to do so. An opt-out subscriber must be removed within 10 days after they request removal.

Test your Emails

It’s also important to test your campaigns to make sure they appear as designed. A great tool for testing your email campaigns is Litmus.

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