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3 Best Practices for Creating Engaging Marketing Emails

Posted by Phil Davis

March 22, 2017

email validation.jpgWhat is the most common trait you associate with goldfish, aside from the funeral rite of flushing them down the toilet? Likely, it’s their remarkably short attention span.

But did you know that a human’s average attention span is actually less than that of a goldfish? Yikes.

With only eight seconds (you read that right—eight) to convince someone an email is worth reading, marketers must design a message that is interesting and engaging right off the bat.

To ensure your subscribers make it past the first few words of your message, adopt these three best practices for designing engaging marketing emails.

1. Be Clear and Direct

Creativity can certainly mean an enjoyable reading experience for your subscribers, but focusing too much on being entertaining or flashy and not enough on communicating the email’s purpose can affect conversion rate.

The aesthetic of your email is undeniably critical, but don’t go over the top with animations or overly elaborate graphics. Not only can these distract from the primary messaging, but if they don’t display properly on the user’s mobile device, it can be frustrating for the subscriber.

You want recipients to enjoy your emails but you also want to achieve your campaign objective. Feel free to add an artistic flair to the text design (as well as the copy itself), but be sure the intended action is still obvious. Find the balance between clarity and cleverness.

Remember: The idea that “less is more” is especially pertinent in email marketing. Write the copy, review the copy, trim the copy and then trim the copy some more. Ask yourself, “Can I get my point across in fewer words?” If so, do it.

2. Use Eye-Catching Images (But Don’t Forget About Whitespace)

Humans are visual creatures — we’re naturally drawn to colorful imagery. And well-designed, well-placed images in marketing messaging can substantially increase engagement. According to a 2015 study from BuzzSumo, Facebook posts with images had 2.3 times the engagement of posts without images.

Though including images in your marketing emails isn’t absolutely necessary (especially if it’s a shorter email with minimal text), if you do use images, keep these two things in mind:

  • The graphics should add value to the content. Don’t use images in your email just because you think you should. If the image isn’t relevant to the messaging, it’s just fluff (and you don’t have room for fluff).
  • Don’t go overboard. Again, you don’t want to overwhelm your recipients. Constant Contact found that, in general, emails with three or fewer images and about 20 lines of text had the highest click-through rates.

While using images can be a great strategy to draw subscribers in, don’t underestimate the power of whitespace. Admittedly, real estate in an email is limited, and marketers understandably want to make the most of it. But even though your subscribers probably appreciate imagery more than text, you still shouldn’t inundate them with graphics.

Whitespace lets your audience rest their eyes and it helps make the accompanying images and text stand out.

Pro Tip: When it comes to B2B emails, it’s better to err on the side of fewer images, unless those images are more business-focused such as graphs or charts.

3. Focus on Mobile-Friendliness

We’re willing to bet you’ve already recognized the necessity of designing mobile-friendly emails. (However, if you haven’t, we truly can’t stress enough how important this is.)

A study conducted by StatCounter Global Stats found 51.3 percent of all internet browsing was done on mobile devices, compared to 48.7 via desktops.

Knowing emails must be mobile-friendly is all well and good, but how do you make marketing emails mobile-friendly? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you design your marketing emails:

  • Use a single-column layout. You don’t want your subscribers to have to keep zooming in and out to see the entirety of the content in your email.
  • Make sure text is a readable size. Don’t give your recipients eye strain by forcing them to read too-small copy.
  • Put your most important content first. Take a page from the journalist playbook and use the inverted pyramid style. Feature the most important copy at the top of the email — for example, the discount being offered, the sale being advertised or the primary value statement.

Pro Tip: Preview your email on multiple devices before sending. Many email marketing platforms offer a preview URL which you can use with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Every marketing strategy has its challenges, and every brand has plenty of obstacles to overcome when promoting their product or service. But email marketers have the added difficulty of competing against the dozens, if not hundreds, of other messages that land in their subscribers’ inboxes every day. However, marketers who follow the tips above will likely find it a little bit easier to create marketing emails that make it past that eight second mark.

What else can you do to create effective marketing emails? Use customer data. Try our Email Intelligence service and see how you can build personalized emails that grab your audience right out of the gate.Deliver the Right Message to the Right Person at the Right Time

Topics: Email Marketing

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