By Roxane Isal, Epsilon International.
Businesses looking to maximise the impact of their email communications need to consider ways to enhance user engagement.
What many marketers fail to understand is the difference a well-designed email can make to these efforts. Although an email marketing campaign’s creative is often overlooked by data purists, it is in fact key to establishing a brand’s credibility, currying favour with customers, and can ultimately act as an effective shop front for a larger e-commerce site.
Trust is key to a successful email strategy, and will also reduce the likelihood of spam issues.
Essentially, the more professional the email design appears, the more likely recipients are to read it, and the less likely the ISPs are to impose a manual block on the sending IP.
The reader needs to instantly recognise the sender, which means that company logos should always be prominent and of high resolution (as should all images).
It’s also necessary to ensure the content is ordered correctly – to aid readability. The use of borders and a limited use of blank space help users to more clearly identify the email’s different elements. Keeping the reader’s attention is fundamental.
The email should be clear and easy to scan for those that will not read every word, placing importance on using headlines for ease of reference.
The key message should be towards the top of the email, along with navigation options to instantly give the recipient a choice of route.
It’s also essential to ensure a sensible proportion of text works without images, as many readers will have their inbox set to turn off images by default. Creative emails also need to be ‘sticky’ – appealing enough for users to explore or ‘stick around’ to find out more information.
To maximise engagement, editorial content should be started above the fold and presented in a format that compels the reader to scroll down. In addition, most elements within the email should be clickable to drive traffic to the website -readers should be given every opportunity to visit a company’s website.
Arrows and well-defined boxes help identify clickable areas and the navigation should be exactly the same as on a company’s website, to provide familiarity for users moving between the email and the web.
While these are proven ways to enhance the appeal of an email, there are also a number of common mistakes marketers overlook when designing emails. Part of the problem is that many marketers assess designs with the eye of a print creative, rather than a web creative.
It’s not true that the brighter the email, the more it stands out and will be read. Chances are it will cause display problems and distract the reader. Also, background images don’t always display well so using plain colours is likely to provide the best results.
There is also a temptation to overload the email with a lot of detailed content and include full articles. In this case, the danger is that readers will lose interest and discard the email, or not feel the need to click through to the website and convert.
Conversely, too much blank space will uncover formatting issues – particularly if ‘images off’ functionality is switched on –reducing valuable click-through opportunities.
Ultimately, the aim of each communication is to enhance sales opportunities, increase brand loyalty or generate more web traffic.
Although it can seem like a daunting task, best practice when designing a creative email involves offering the user multiple opportunities to engage with a brand through the email’s content.
This means ensuring each section and the entire navigation serves that very purpose.
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