I always give the analogy of a traveling salesman when I talk about email marketing and spam filters. For a traveling salesman, the first step is to gain entry into the house to be able to sell his products. Similarly for an email, the first step is to find the end user’s inbox to be able to serve the purpose. Hence deliverability i.e. getting the emails in the user’s inbox is very important.
Email marketing mainly stands on the following 3 pillars:
- What kind of users do you target?
- What kind of infrastructure do you send the emails from?
- What kind of content do you use?
Unlike other channels, email marketing has an extra layer of filtering: the spam filters wherein the content of the campaigns are scanned.
In this blog, we will discuss the best practices while designing an email template.
An email template must go through 2 checks in the mentioned chronological order :
- The template must reach the inbox.
- The template should be relatable enough so that the end-user opens and clicks on the CTA(s).
Hence I categorize the best practices as follows;
Best Practices for deliverability
Make sure your email template hasn’t landed in spam earlier or rendered a lot of spam complaints as Gmail and other prominent ISPs assign a negative signature to such templates and despite changing the sender domain and other headers, your campaigns would still land in spam.
When I am helping any brand with their email program, I ensure the following basic do’s and don’ts are followed while making the content, for better deliverability on Gmail ids:
- Don’t use domains blacklisted by google.
- Don’t use Malfunctional HTML tags.
- Don’t use any blacklisted email, contact no.
- Don’t send cached content. Gmail caches the contents which are marked as spam with a signature.
- Alt,Title & Map tags should be removed. Alt & Title tags often have generic keywords like facebook, instagram etc. which may bring down the overall score of your template. MAP tag is an old hack to enable clicks within certain parts of an image and generally causes emails to land in spam for Gmail users.
- Don’t use commented codes.
Best Practices for engagement
- Make your CTA buttons prominent.For mobile phones, the CTA buttons must be available within the first scroll.
- Place your logo strategically. The logo always builds brand affinity. If you are sending a promo email campaign with plenty of scrolls, place the logo at the top. If you don’t want to place it at the centre, place it at the top left because people read from left to right. If you are sending a transactional email communication with only 1 scroll, you may place the logo at the bottom.
- Use catchy and trending words for your CTA buttons. The words should be in sync with your offers. Eg. Get Now, Book Now etc.
- Never have horizontal scrolls : the width should be under 600 pixels.
- Don’t include java scripts/flash. These aren’t supported by most email clients.(Java scripts used for AMP emails are an exception).
- Play smartly with colours : Try to keep the dark colours reserved for the smaller sections eg CTA buttons, links etc.
- Lighter the better : try to reduce the size of the email by moving some of the content to the landing page/getting rid of redundant styles.Also keeping the size under 102 kb would help the email not get clipped by Gmail. Ideal text:image ratio is 3:2.
- Preheader text : It’s the part of the email campaign which compliments the subject line.If the email lands in inbox and the user has brand affinity, a study revealed that the subject line and preheader had a 60:40 contribution respectively towards opens! Make the preheader text catchy and in sync with the subject line.
- Short & catchy subject lines : the subject line must grab eyeballs. It must not reveal the entire context of the email but drop a hint to the end user! The intent of all email subject lines must be to invoke curiosity so that the end user opens the email to know more.Name personalization helps in some cases as it makes the end user feel important.
- Make your email campaign sound like the campaigns on the other channels like web push/app push. According to a survey by Littmus in 2018, only 24.8% of the brands who took part in the survey had their email programs highly integrated with the other channels. Hence making your campaigns highly integrated with the other channels will give you an edge over 75.2% marketeers!
- Keeping it short and sweet is often recommended because the average attention span of users when they interact with emails is very limited : it’s 8 seconds if the user is interested and 3 seconds if the user isn’t interested.
As an email designer, if you can take care of the above basics, you can avoid low deliverability or low CTOR. While these are some of the basic guidelines, the tonality and the design of the email campaigns would change according to which brand is sending the email campaigns. While some brands like to keep the content short and sweet, some brands like to promote as many products as possible on the email campaign. The tonality and design can be definitely flexible, however, never skip the best practices for deliverability!
Head of Email Marketing