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
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
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
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
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.