Email marketing design: How to create a great campaign
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Email marketing design: How to create a great campaign

Email Marketing Design

You know email marketing is the number one tool for brand development and customer engagement. Email actually has the highest ROI of any marketing channel. However, you only get amazing results when you know how to design your campaigns correctly. 

Your email campaign design makes or breaks the impact you have on your target audience. Whether you’re sending a message about your latest sale or updating customers with a newsletter, your messages need to match the visual appeal of your brand. 

Fail to get the formatting, aesthetics, and content of your email right, and you risk losing your audience’s respect and their custom. 

So, how do you design a marketing email?

This quick guide to email marketing design will help.

The importance of email marketing design

First, you need to understand why email campaign design is so important. 

More than 70% of businesses use email to communicate with customers, either through newsletters, promotional messages, or just transactional emails. Since your customers are getting dozens of messages each day, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out. 

While it’s your email subject line which dictates whether your client will open your message, the design of the email determines whether you’ll gain engagement again in the future. 

Everything from your choice of typography to the formatting of your emails can determine what your customers think and feel about you. With this in mind, here are some top tips for supporting your campaigns.

1. Have a goal

Every message sent in an email marketing campaign needs a distinct purpose. Some emails are transactional, thanking your customer for making a purchase or letting them know when they can expect an item to be delivered. 

Others are promotional, intended to advertise a product or service. 

Knowing the purpose of each email will help you to choose the correct design. For instance, welcome emails are great for grabbing your customer’s expectation at the start of an email campaign and setting expectations. 

They have a 91.4% open rate, and they let your audience know what they have to look forward to. 

A welcome email should be straight to the point and provide your customer with useful information about your service or company. A promotional email highlights some of your latest products or deals based on the segment of your audience you’re sending it to. 

Look at the design of this welcome email from Virgin America:

Email Marketing Design

Now check out this marketing email from EMP:

Email Marketing Design

The welcome email has far more useful information, whereas the marketing content gets straight to the point, demonstrating value, and calling customers to action.

2. Get the structure right

When you’re perfecting your email campaign design, formatting and structure are crucial. 

Research shows the average attention span of an adult falls somewhere around 8 seconds. You only have a small opportunity to capture your customer’s interest and keep it. 

Text-heavy email campaigns are rarely the best choice, unless you’re delivering an important message, or sending a welcome email, like the one above.  

Instead, Campaign Monitor advises using a “reverse pyramid” structure, to format your email in a way to draws the eye and encourages action.

Email Marketing Design

At the very top of your email, you use a header to instantly grab your customer’s attention with an offer of value. After this, you can include an image or video, followed by a small paragraph of informative text. 

At the bottom of the email campaign design, you add a CTA button in contrasting colors, which your customer can click on to move to the next stage of the journey. 

Though you don’t have to follow the exact same structure for every email, it’s best to find a way of pulling your reader’s eyes down the page. Images and carefully formatted text are great for this.

3. Get the content right

There are few things more important than the right content in email marketing design. 

When your customer opens a message, they should immediately see information tailor-made to their interests. According to studies, using segmented lists to send targeted email campaign designs to different customers leads to a 760% increase in email revenue.

Email Marketing Design

As an example, the surfer company, RipCurl, segments its audience based on gender, and sends messages more likely to appeal to each customer based on the information. 

For instance, if you identify yourself as a male when you sign up for the RipCurl newsletter, you’ll get information about their top-selling products for men. 

Remember, it’s not just what you say with email marketing – but how you say it too. Your content should clearly showcase your company’s unique voice. You’ll also need to ensure the text, buttons, graphics, and videos in your email work on every platform.

Your messages should be easy to read on any screen.

4. Highlight your brand

Email marketing, just like any kind of advertising, is a chance to showcase your unique brand personality. You’ve already taken the time to create a set of brand guidelines which include your chosen colors, logo design, tone of voice, and so on. 

Ensure all of the components of your brand shine through perfectly in your emails too. 

Check out this email below from FreshBooks, for instance. The messaging is the same as the kind you’d find on the FreshBooks website, and the hand-drawn illustration match the Company’s larger brand image. Even the colors match perfectly.

Email Marketing Design

Speaking of colors for your email marketing design, make sure you get your shades right. 

Color psychology makes a huge impact on modern audiences. Most of the time, you’ll stick to your brand colors, with contrasting shades to draw attention to CTA buttons and links. 

At certain times, however, you may need to adjust your color strategy slightly. For instance, greens and reds may make more sense to your audience during the holiday season. You could also tone down your colors when you’re sending more serious messages. 

5. Design for the appropriate platform

Making the correct impact with your email campaign design means ensuring your customers can access and enjoy your messages on any platform. Remember, today’s customers read their emails more often on mobile devices than ever before. 

The good news is most email marketing tools come with pre-designed templates you can use which are already mobile responsive. These templates will automatically look incredible on any platform, so you don’t have to worry about text being harder to read on a smaller screen.

Email Marketing Design

When designing your emails for mobile, think about the kind of features which are going to be essential for your audience in this environment. Should your buttons be bigger, so they’re easier to tap? Should any slideshows in your emails have swipe functionality?

Can you make sure your videos and animations don’t play automatically when an email opens on a smartphone? This can reduce the risk of your email consuming too much bandwidth.

6. Optimize your CTA

Call to action buttons (CTA) are one of the most important components of email campaign design. When you’re sending messages to your target audience, you’re also nurturing them towards a sale. Your CTA buttons tell your clients which steps they need to take to progress on their buying journey. 

Your CTA needs to be engaging, appealing, and easy to see. Focus on the benefits your customers are going to enjoy when they click on this button. In this example from Casper below, the company doesn’t just ask you to “Buy Now” when advertising a new protection system for your mattress. 

The CTA “Stay Clean” pulls attention to the most obvious benefit of the new feature.

Email Marketing Design

A single call to action can increase your chances of sales by 1617%. 

To get the most out of your CTA, make sure:

  • It’s clear and easy to see
  • Customers can easily tap or click on it
  • The copy highlights the benefit to the customer
  • The button sends the customer to the correct landing page

7. Use images correctly

Finally, branded emails would be pretty boring if they didn’t have any images or graphics to show off. The pictures in your email help to pull your customers down the page, split up segments of text, and even demonstrate the benefits of your product or service. 

Ideally, you’ll want custom brand photos to have the best impact on your audience. If you can’t afford these, then you can look into some of the free stock photos available online. Just be sure you stay away from any images which seem obviously fake. 

Email Marketing Design

Remember, like all parts of your email marketing design, your photos are a representation of your brand. Choose images to match the personality you want to create. 

Where possible, you can also experiment with things like animations, looping clips, video, and gifs. These are all becoming increasingly common in email marketing, and they’re easier to access thanks to email marketing software. 

Ready to start designing?

Email marketing is easily one of the most valuable tools you can access when you’re nurturing customers and building a memorable brand. Although, like most things in your marketing strategy, it’s important to get the design right. 

From carefully segmenting the contents of your email to suit the individual needs of each customer to making sure you format your message correctly, you should never underestimate the importance of email marketing design. 

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Steve Harvey
Steve Harvey
Our co-founder, Steve Harvey, is also a regular contributor to Brand Fabrik, a flagship publication covering topics relevant to anyone in branding, marketing and graphic design. Steve shares his enthusiasm for brand naming through his articles and demonstrates his knowledge and expertise in the naming process.

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