Five Quick Wins For A User-Friendly Email Campaign

Email is central to a successful marketing strategy. It has been a bumpy ride but it’s clear that email is not dead. It’s still as important as ever.

With the development of email design and increased standards, it is quite common to target, personalise and adapt branded emails to ensure they attract opens and clicks on all kinds of devices and screen sizes. But for some marketers this, frustratingly, is still way out of reach.

What’s holding you back?

Brands are doing amazing work with innovating email and are sure to be reaping the rewards. However, not all companies are able to compete with the big players; you may not have the resources or staff, or it may not be easy to request budget for “responsive design” when the board has other priorities. Whatever the case, these simple steps, even with limited HTML knowledge, will get you through until your next template redesign.

Know your audience. This may be obvious, but knowing what your subscribers’ habits are, what makes them open, where they open, what devices they use, is a great start. If it’s desktop, iPhones or tablets, then make that your priority device that you optimise for. And also note, this is likely to change over time so it’s worth refreshing these findings or segments every 6 months -- especially after Christmas, when everyone from your baby sister to your grandmother has a new tablet.

Declutter your existing template.  Chop any stationary elements you don’t need. Look at how your navigation is used: Should it have a prime spot on your email? Also, put text on a landing page instead of squeezed onto a hero image.

Keep it clean. You can’t go wrong with a simple design, adequate white space and relevant, high quality images. This keeps your subscribers focused on the message: buy/read/share this. A strong font and navigation will take the campaign to the next level. Try centering your logo and text for a quick refresh. These are things that require minimal HTML and should theoretically improve the look of your email and potentially help increase click-throughs.

Your template doesn’t have to be responsive for it to work better on mobiles. In short, make everything big. Increase the size of CTAs and images, and, when viewed on a mobile, the message still gets across.

If you have some basic HTML behind you, making your information stackable on mobiles is also still an option. Having images and text in blocks makes it a lot easier for those elements to slide in under each other on a mobile device.

Use alt text for when images are off. It’s always good to cover your back. If images don’t download instantly when users open their email, alt text helps to identify what they are missing. Links will still be working, so click-throughs are still achievable. Or even better, recreate the image using a wire frame.

Just because a swish company is using animations and sends symbols in their subject lines, doesn’t mean you have to. If your subscribers are used to a certain style and layout, a complete overhaul may startle them -- but improving the usability of your emails won’t hurt. These subtle changes can help ease your audience into a new era of communication for your brand.

1 comment about "Five Quick Wins For A User-Friendly Email Campaign ".
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  1. Roy Reveltas from Revelt ltd., October 28, 2014 at 4:23 a.m.

    Thanks Elliot! It's very interesting perspective, how to achieve the best quality with small budget and less resource in general. Alt attributes and clean code will definitely go a long way. By the way, another quick and cheap win is to take care of image compression. Smaller images load faster and email open speed matters (just like on websites). You can run your email's web/online version through web speed checker and see how optimally did your designers compress the images. My favourite is Pingdom Website Speed Test. Image compression is easy too. Use automated tool like RIOT compressor (Windows) or ImageOptim (Mac). Unlike Photoshop they have little to no settings and produce stellar results.

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