Email is one of the best ways to communicate with key audiences. It provides the opportunity to incorporate visuals and content to reinforce a brand and drive the reader to take an action. Developing marketing emails can be a hassle if you aren’t aware of the complexities of today’s email environment.
It can be challenging and frustrating to find that your email works perfectly in one email platform only to find it is completely broken in another. Here are some quick tips to keep you on the right track to developing a successful email campaign.
Pick a favorite email test suite and use it frequently. Email on Acid and Mailchimp Inbox Preview are good places to start. Try and determine what email clients your audience uses and test on those platforms. If you don’t have this information, test on the most popular ones. In many instances, emails may break from client to client just because of a small issue in the way it renders an element.
Some email clients such as Outlook have strict layouts that could cause issues in how they render information. Understanding and knowing how to work around these constraints should be kept in mind when developing email campaigns. Fitting all necessary elements into the email can be a challenge for a developer when working within these constraints. For this reason, strive to keep all elements in your email within 600px. This ensures your content doesn’t get cut off in email clients. If a user has to scroll side-to-side to see your content, they’re more likely to stop reading altogether.
Users should be able to pick out the email’s call to action (CTA) immediately. CTAs should also be high up in the email and repeated throughout the email content. They should be clear and large. You obviously don’t want to spam the CTA all over the email, but you also want to make it easy for the user to take an action at any point in the email.
Images are a great way to communicate and enhance your message to users, however some email clients will not show them by default. Depending on which email client your audience uses, assume your images may not be shown. This means you need to make sure that the alt attribute of each image accurately describes the image, and that you have the majority of your text in html so it appears in any email client
Plan accordingly with GIFs in the same way. They offer fun and fresh ways to engage your audience via email; however, you’ll quickly find that they do not work in all email clients. Most modern email clients support GIFs, but Outlook on Windows desktops still do not. Here’s a handy support list if your curious which clients show GIFs. Knowing your audience will help determine what the right approach is to using them.
If your audience primarily uses Outlook 2016 on PC desktops, skip the GIF and use an image. If it’s a mixture of email clients, plan ahead and make sure the first frame of the GIF contains any relevant information you wish to communicate to your user as Outlook will only use the first frame.
Respect your audience. If a user continually displays behavior of not opening or ignoring emails, or opts-out and unsubscribes, then do not email them anymore. Getting flagged for spam will hurt your marketing efforts and the domain in which you send these emails.
If all of this sounds confusing, consider using an email builder to help you get up and running. Email technology has not advanced as far as browser technology. Many techniques and strategies used in developing HTML emails involves using practices that are almost a decade old. Using modern email builders is a great way to start learning how to create successful email campaigns. They have incorporated best practices within their templates to help you ignore the noise that could be confusing and helps to focus on the email itself.
If an email builder is not an option, consider using a framework to help you get started quickly. The strategy behind a framework is the same behind that of the email builder – build faster and more robust emails – but you’re closer to the metal and have more control over the process.