Once a customer has opened your email whether they are compelled to click on your links will be determined by the quality of your message, content in your email and relevancy to them. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer – understanding your audience will help you generate emails that are more highly tuned to their needs and expectations.
Include a header with your company logo so that a customer can identify who the email is from as soon as they open it. This also adds to brand recognition and consistency. A link from your logo to your website homepage is also advisable. Keep it simple and don’t let your header dominate your email template. Be careful not to add too many distractions into the header such as your website navigation. Remember the aim of your email is to get the customer to click on the important message or messages in the main body of your email.
Amount of content
Too many messages in one email will confuse the customer and may lead them to delete your email or unsubscribe. Before constructing your email establish a clear idea of exactly what you want your message to convey to the customer and what you want them to do once they have opened your email eg if you have a number of products or services you want to promote it might be more effective having one email focusing on one specific product/service or a related collection of products/services.
Email template layout
A successful email layout will not only look good, it will also present your content in a way which guides your readers through your message and encourages them onwards to your objective, ie to click a link or links. You need to get the right balance between the email being practical and attractive. Aim to use a layout that makes the content easy to understand, navigate and engage with.
This is the most important aspect of your email and is what you want the customer to do once they have opened your email. Before you construct your email template be clear as to the end goal of your email – do you want the customer to buy something, read an article, book an appointment or view a video? A single call-to-action that aligns with your end goal can be very effective as it is very clear to the recipient what you want them to eg purchase a specific product. Too many calls-to-action in one email will dilute your message, confuse your customer and discourage them from interacting with your message.
You should provide a clear call-to-action in your email by using words that encourage action e.g. buy this product, subscribe to our service, read our review, book an appointment. You could also create a sense of urgency with your call-to-action e.g. emphasising the limit on an offer: money off offer lasts until Tuesday.
Images in your email template
You should use a combination of images and text within your email. The images should complement the text to help you get your message across. Ensure to hyperlink your image and add alt text as some internet service providers (ISPs) block images appearing as a default. This is especially important to remember if you are using images as call-to-action buttons. Optimise the size of your images so that they scale appropriately when opening on a mobile device.
Text in your email template
Think of your email as a teaser aiming to encourage the customer to perform an action such as read more on your website or purchase a product or service – don’t try to include everything in your email. It is highly likely that a customer will skim read your email so keep text to a minimum, use headings and include key words which will support this process. Write your email copy as if you are communicating directly to an individual rather than to a large audience. You can do this by replacing words like ‘we and our’ with ‘you and your’ eg "Do you ever dream of beach holidays? Get a 20% discount off your next trip".
Social media buttons
In order to align your email marketing with your social media you could include social sharing buttons so customers can post specific content from your email to their social media accounts. Adding recognisable social media icons will invite your customers to spread your message for you. In addition you could highlight on social media that your latest email communication is about to issue a day or two before your email is sent out. This could encourage people to sign up to receive it.
As a legal requirement you must include details of your company name and address. You should include other methods that a customer can contact you such as your email address or phone number. Legally you must also include an unsubscribe link. Most email marketers place these details and the unsubscribe link in the footer.
With more customers accessing email through their mobile than desktop it is imperative you optimise your emails for mobile devices. Emails will render differently depending on device accessed on and internet service provider (ISP) used. Perform an inbox check across different mobile devices and platforms to ensure your design will work. Most email marketing software providers will enable you to view you email template across various email platforms prior to sending.
Consider mobile users when designing your email template by increasing font size and line spacing. Make your call-to-action(s) stand out and easily accessible e.g. the call-to-action button may need to be bigger than those displayed on desktop to compensate for the customer clicking with their finger on a mobile screen. Single column content will work best for mobile as most people are happy to scroll through content but less content to pinch and zoom. Ensure your website is mobile friendly too as a perfect mobile friendly email experience can easily be ruined by inviting customers to click through to a non-responsive website.