E-Mail Thursday – E-Mail Composition Do's and Don'ts



The process that goes into creating e-mail is very unique. This is because there are certain key limitations due to the nature of ISPs and email clients that make creating e-mails a little different.

First, the majority of email clients default to blocking images. A user has to take an action to download the images, and sometimes won’t depending on what text they can already see within the email. For example, if they can get the gist of the promotion, discount code, and CTA/link they won’t necessarily need to download the images.

Second pertains to layout size: while a web page can be 900 pixels wide, most email clients limit the width to 700 pixels at most, and often times even closer to 650.

Third, web-like navigation isn’t such a great idea with the proliferation of people viewing their emails on their mobile devices. Mobile devices don’t yet do a terrific job of rendering HTML and often transform it into code or plain text.

Last, but not least, with the advent of Twitter, Facebook, and more and more emails everyday, your consumers have a lot competing for their time and attention. Most people scan their emails within a few seconds, so you need to really capture their attention to further engage them.
One way to know that you are following best practices in producing effective email creative is to test and view your emails within the preview pane. Here’s a quick checklist:

  1. Is your key information above the fold? Especially the primary call to action?
  2. Is the primary call to action within a graphic that they need to download or is there a link that works without images?
  3. Do the image alt tags convey enough valuable information?
  4. Overall, does the email make sense without the images and does it compel the reader to further engage?

A nice looking email is in the eye of the beholder, specifically your subscribers, so it’s important to continually test out different elements. Some things you might want to consider are:

  1. Vertical versus horizontal layout
  2. Number of links and/or products
  3. Length and tone of copy

But regardless of which mix of elements works the best for you, it’s critical to ensure that your email works from a marketing perspective. To accomplish this simply do two things with every campaign:

  1. Balance images with your text. In fact use graphics to support your copy and message, and not the other way around.
  2. Test your HTML in your top email clients. Each email program read HTML a bit differently, so you should ensure that your email renders the way you want it to in these programs.