You know it’s in your best interest to engage your prospects regularly, and email plays an important role in that equation. But when it comes to crafting effective marketing emails, how your branded communications look is almost as important as what they say.
A standardized email template is the solution to streamlining your efforts and creating a consistent branded experience. However, designing an effective email template is easier said than done. You may find yourself running up against a number of design and strategy questions you weren’t prepared for. What font should you select? How many images? How many columns? Should the date go at the top or the bottom? Whose signature should you include?
To make matters more confusing, you want your emails to mimic your brand’s website presence..
With so many elements to consider, many firms go the “more is more” route. They stuff their email templates to the brim with images, links, and other design flourishes. The truth is that simpler is better — both in terms of streamlining your email operations and improving your user experience.
Remember the Goal of Sending Email
Here’s the reality: The goal of sending an email is to get your recipients to read it and follow your call to action. And they want to! You’re not selling widgets; your readers are subscribed to your newsletter because of the quality of your thought leadership. That means you don’t have to worry about including multiple images, using unique fonts, or even including multiple buttons.
Instead, consider how you can craft your email template to ensure that your message is the focus of your email.
Email template best practices change over time. A few years ago, a great header image was crucial. Today, it’s unnecessary. The same applies to calls to action. In years past, email strategists took a “more is better” approach to CTAs. Now, we know it’s best to narrow it down to one or two.
Here are the five key tips for designing a streamlined, modern email template.
5 Tips to Craft a Better Email Experience
When designing an email template, it’s easy to get so caught up in the design elements that you lose focus on the message. By prioritizing these five key elements, you can design a template that features a beautiful, engaging design that lets your message shine.
Tip #1: Focus on The Message.
You’re not sending an email for your own edification. You’re sending an email because you have valuable information that will help your readers. You’re an expert; don’t be afraid to make that expertise the highlight of your email.
Besides, people are busy. You’ve only got a couple seconds to grab your readers’ attention. By scaling down your design to include only the most important elements, you make it as easy as possible for your readers to get to the meat of what you have to share with them. The most important elements include:
- Logo at the top
- Tagline below the logo
- An image, if you’re including one
- A single, clear button with the call-to-action
Tip #2: Remember That Email Templates Open Differently for Everyone.
When sending an email, remember that it won’t look exactly the same for every recipient. The way your message appears will depend on the device each person is using when they open your email. From desktop to mobile and from device brand to device brand, everyone’s screen will be a little different.
Beyond screen size, your email will vary from email client to email client. For example, many custom fonts (like an in-house font designed just for your company) won’t load on certain email clients. In that case, email clients generally default to a basic font like Arial.
Because of these variables, it’s in your best interest to keep your email template as simple and streamlined as possible. The fewer fonts, images, and design elements you bake into your template, the more control you have over how your emails appear from recipient to recipient.
Tip #3: Think “Minimalist”.
Repeat after me: “I do not need a fancy image at the top of every email I send out.”
I know, I know. You just want your emails to be attractive. But here’s the thing: The more content you place at the top of your email, the lower your actual message gets pushed. If you include too much header content, your email will get pushed “below the fold,” meaning your readers will be required to scroll in order to see it. When that happens, you risk losing your audience’s attention before they ever see your intended message.
The solution, once again, is to simplify your email template and let your message do the talking.
Tip #4: Stop Including a Date Stamp and Signature Line.
When you send an email, a time stamp is automatically included in the recipient’s inbox. If, for some reason, they need to know when your email was sent, a record of that information already exists.
But the real downside of time stamps is that it’s one more thing to remember to update before each send. If you forget, you’ve got an email that is incorrectly stamped. Why not just remove the potential for error?
While you’re at it, you might consider losing email signatures, too. The same logic applies — different emails will come from different people, opening up the possibility for error. Of course, you’ll want to think strategically about this decision. Unless your thought leaders are well known among your target audience, branded emails generally don’t need an individual’s signature at the end.
By reducing as many email template variables as possible, you can set your team up for a smoother, more efficient email program.
Tip #5: Go Ahead. Include Social Links in Your Footer.
A surprising number of clicks come through the social links found in email footers. Your mileage may vary, but it’s never a bad idea to make it easy for your prospects to find you on all the platforms in which you have a presence. Just be sure to avoid linking to accounts you don’t actually use on a regular basis.
All You Really Need In An Email Template
A good email template really only needs a few key elements. Those elements include:
- Your logo at the top
- Your positioning statement
- Body copy set in 14- or 16-point type
- A call-to-action button
- A simple footer with links to your website and social accounts
Depending on your industry, you may also decide to include an image. For example, design services firms often include one. The main thing is to make sure that the image doesn’t push your email copy below the fold. If your reader is drinking their coffee, Slacking on one screen, and reading on another, your efforts must prioritize doing everything you can to hold their attention long enough to get them to the point.
And that’s it! By remembering to keep it simple and focus on your message, you’ll be more than halfway to an email template that will save you time and create a better user experience, too.