Design Your Emails to Get Read

The statistics are pretty depressing.  The average “open rate” for email marketing these days is about 15%.  Even people who have opted into your list and asked you to communicate with them will only open 45% of your communiqués. 

The lesson is that if you want your email campaigns to have a better result than these statistics you must have a well-crafted, clear, and consistent design; you must “brand” your emails if you want them to get opened.  Here are some considerations to think about as you design your next email marketing effort.

1. Assume embedded images will not get through.  If the images in your email are replaced by blank space and little red “x” in a box, will your reader be able to understand the point you are trying to make?

When designing your emails, you should assume that any images will not be visible.  It is just a fact of life on line that images will not always translate seamlessly from a web page to an email.  Many email clients will not automatically display images without first having the use complete an action (“click here to view images.”)

Without the images, how will your email look?  To maintain the integrity of your email use height, width, and alt attributes for each image tag.  That way if the image is blocked, the empty space on the page will be the same size as the image, keeping your formatting intact.

2. Be aware of the text to image ratio in your emails.  If you add images to your emails then recognize that most spam filters analyze the percentage of space on the page that is text in relation to the image space.  Unfortunately, there is not an exact rule to help you when designing your campaign.  In general, if you use images at all in your business communication keep them to 20% of the page or less. 

An obvious exception is when you are sending an email full of images; product graphics or photos of the staff at the company picnic, it doesn’t matter.  The language interpretation algorithms are getting sophisticated enough to understand your intent by comparing your subject line to the opening sentences and general content.

3. Have a “Plan B” if you use an image rich background.  There are times when, for dramatic effect, you want to have an image in the background of your emails.  This will typically be “screened” at 30% or so, making it visible but not overpowering the text that is written over it.

Some mail clients do not support image backgrounds.  Included in this group are two of the biggest:  Gmail and Outlook.  Have your programmer properly incorporate the HTML tags so that both an image and a color are coded.  This will display the image if allowed by the mail client, or the colored background if not permitted. 

4. Always, Always, Always have a “call to action” in your emails.  Particularly if you are creating a series of several communications to be delivered over a period of time, you want to make it crystal clear the action you want your reader to take.  Normally this would come at the end.  Included your call to action in every email.  You may be tempted to just put it in every other or every third email.  Remember, not every recipient will open them all—you want them to know the next step you want taken.

While it is not the powerful tool that it once was, email is still an important component to any marketing strategy. Once you have a list to communicate with, it is certainly the least expensive marketing.  By implementing these techniques you can increase your odds that it will also be one of your most effective.

Posted in Email Marketing