With an ROI of $38 for every $1 spent, email is still considered the most effective and profitable digital marketing tactic for marketers, ecommerce and companies of every size.
It’s an extremely effective sales tool but there’s a huge difference between a message no one opens and responds to and one that generates dozens of new leads. Your email design can help you stand out and get the attention you need in an overcrowded inbox.
Here are some tips to help you get more from your email marketing efforts by designing sales emails that simply work.
1. Choose the right email marketing platform
Professional email marketing systems offer a complete range of optimisation tools, reports and drag & drop features that empower you to create effective campaigns.
They also offer more advanced options that let help you save time like email marketing automation and autoresponders that are triggered by events that you set, like someone joining your mailing list.
But how do you know what you really need to create effective messages?
Where to start
When making this decision, take your own abilities into consideration.
Can you code a newsletter yourself that will make it through antispam filters? Do you know how to use graphic programs to make your newsletter look the best it can be and give subscribers the confidence to make a purchase from you?
These are absolute basics and if you can’t do them yourself, you need to use an email marketing system.
Some platforms make things easier to create a campaign by offering a large library of ready-made templates that have already been tested not only as effective marketing tools but also for their ability to display properly on devices and screens of different sizes.
All you have to do is choose a template and add your own content.
If you want a higher degree of personalisation and you want to create your own project from scratch, you can also use an editor that lets you build everything with simple blocks and ready-made elements.
You don’t need any programming knowledge or proficiency in graphic programs like Photoshop.
All of this gives you the power to create amazing newsletters that look the same as anything sent out by the biggest brands in the world.
But first, to make your campaigns stick and resonate with people, make sure to know some email design best practices that drive sales.
2. Create an eye candy layout
In email design the most important part of your email is the above-the-fold area. It’s about 350 pixels high and 650 pixels wide and is visible in most email programs without having to scroll down the screen.
Research carried out by the Nielsen Norman Group shows that your subscribers spend 80% of the time they read your newsletter on this area. It’s highly likely that they won’t notice much outside of it.
The conclusion is obvious – the above-the-fold area is where your sales efforts have to start.
Where to start
There are certain key elements of your newsletter that have to appear in the area above the fold if you want your “buy now” button get clicked:
- Your logo – it helps subscribers to instantly understand that the message isn’t spam. Eye-tracking tells us that the best place to put it is in the left-top corner of your design. This makes it one of the first things recipients will see and will help them to associate future messages with you.
- Preview links – during its journey to your subscriber’s inboxes, various circumstances can cause your email to display incorrectly. Well-chosen pictures greatly enhance the power of your message and increase the chances of conversion. If your graphics don’t display properly for any reason, preview links let subscribers view your message in a browser window.
- Attractive graphics with properly formulated ALT’s (text under the picture). Human brains are wired to process visual information 60 thousand times faster than text. If images don’t display correctly, ALT’s will encourage subscribers to click them instead. This increases the chances that a subscriber will stay engaged with your message even if they don’t immediately see your pictures as you intended.
- A call-to-action button (CTA). Your design needs a clear call to action so recipients know what elements are clickable and lead to more information. Your first CTA must always appear above the fold. There’s always a chance that your subscribers will not bother to scroll further down the page so take advantage of the area of them will see for sure. When designing a call-to-action remember to make it visually distinct and clearly visible against a background of other elements. Your CTA button should be big enough to tap on mobile devices and recipients should be able to easily see that it is clickable. Don’t use too many of them, though – three should be enough for any newsletter.
As I said, the above-the-fold area is the key to a successful newsletter because it gets most of the reader’s time and attention.
Start your design with the elements listed above and plan how they should best be arranged to make your message clear and easy to understand.
The parts of the newsletter that follow should be dedicated to information about other products and offers. Remember to include three of them at most. Results from research conducted by psychologist Alan Baddele show that your subscribers typically cannot remember more than three different bits of information from one newsletter.
Eye-tracking surveys also tell us that newsletter subscribers click not only on the CTA but on other random elements too. Linking your entire newsletter, and not just the call to action, is always a good idea.
3. Choose the right sender name and subject line
The average person receives 147 emails per day and it takes only a split second to decide if they want to open your newsletter or not.
A sender name that inspires trust and an appealing subject line are the keys to convincing subscribers to open your message.
Every subject line is a kind of pitch and you should use it as a request for the recipient’s attention in accordance to AIDA model:
- A – Attention – use a symbol or a wordplay to attract subscribers’ attention,
- I – Interest – use information that will attract the interest of the recipient,
- D – Desire – invoke the need to open message,
- A – Action – suggest the action of opening the email.
Where to start
Don’t send your emails from a generic address like [email protected]. Choose a sender name that will be recognizable to your subscribers. Using a real person’s name will help you add a more personal touch to your marketing message.
Joanna from FreshMail is always more personal than [email protected]. It’s like they say, we don’t buy from companies, we buy from people and brands can use this simple trick to create a higher level of credibility.
Second, keep your subject lines short and sweet. According to Alchemy Worx the most efficient subject lines are no longer than 35 characters. Remember that thanks to professional email marketing systems you can even put your subscribers’ names in the subject line to make it more personal.
4. Remember to target and personalise
The “spray and pray” approach doesn’t cut it in today’s market since consumers now expect you to anticipate their needs and will not respond well to generic content.
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions so the better your message is targeted at the needs and interests of specific groups of subscribers, the better your campaign’s performance will be.
Precise targeting is one of the most effective features provided by email marketing platforms since it means that you can reach the right recipients at the right time with the right content.
Where to start
First, you should leverage all the declarative and behavioural data you have about your subscribers to segment your email database into similar groups of recipients.
You can divide recipients into segments based on:
- similar interests based on clicked links or movement on a web page,
- purchase histories.
39% of marketers who began using segmentation saw a significant rise in their Open Rates, which isn’t surprising since it means that more people were receiving content that appealed to their interests.
Using segmentation means that you don’t send the same generic content to everyone in your subscriber database. Instead, you design customised, well-targeted messages that will attract subscribers on the basis of what interests them.
The last bit of personalisation to use before sending your campaign can be your subscriber’s name in the subject line to give you that extra “something” that gets attention and gets your message opened.
5. Test, test and then test once again
Do you know if your newsletter displays properly on mobile devices? Does it get unwanted attention from anti-spam filters?
Before sending any campaign, always be sure to test it using features available in your email marketing system. An Inbox Test will show you how your message will appear in the inboxes of commonly used email service providers in both mobile and desktop versions without having to send a test campaign.
Anti-spam Tests will identify elements that risk causing your emails to be labeled as spam and increase deliverability of your messages to maximize your email marketing efforts.
And last but not least, A/B tests are an absolute necessity since they give you solid proof of which of two versions of your subject line or sender name gets a better response from your subscribers. Just run a test to a small portion of your subscribers, then choose the winning version to everyone else!