Presentation is everything, or so they say. With this old adage in mind, we’ve compiled our best tips for anyone who wants to send emails that subscribers click into a handy email design guide. We cover each facet of design: content, templates, identity, color, images, layout, fonts, and calls to action. Design is as much science as it is art, and we take the guesswork out of what can seem like the most challenging part of sending good emails.
Will people understand what you’re trying to say? It’s usually better to avoid topics (or opinions) that are complex if many people are extremely passionate about them. For example, sharing almost any opinion about immigration policy is usually a bad move, unless your audience is unusually homogenous. You could agree 99% with someone and still piss them off by using the wrong term just because they have such a strong “either you agree 100% with us, or you’re our enemy” mentality. I once pointed out that I think it’s unacceptable to capture and torture people for years—especially if they aren’t charged with any crime, there’s no evidence they’ve done anything wrong, and they’re children. I got several emails back from people saying, “you have no idea what you’re talking about” or “you should stick to marketing and leave politics to people who understand it.” They took it as commentary on geo-politics. I just said I’m not okay with pointless torture of children. I thought we’d all agree on that.
Sometimes low-hanging fruit is as easy as it looks. Personalizing emails, as well as segmenting them—a marketing technique that teases out your subscriber list to send relevant emails to specific subscribers—can offer significant returns. Segmenting emails allows you to target specific groups of subscribers, which leads to substantial increases in click-through rate.

When you’re working with marketing emails, always think about recipients on an individual level. Consider where each recipient is on their journey with you. Notice opens, click-throughs – any engagements or behaviours, and pin down behavioural patterns which often point to purchase. Every time you send out an email campaign, you'll be collecting behavioural data, use it to inform your email strategy.
Purchase (formerly the bottom): This phase should drive the sale, such as a free trial or discount offer. These messages can be much more direct and sales-oriented since these customers have indicated they are closer to a purchase than others. In this phase, it’s important to keep your emails focused on the primary call to action (CTA) and make sure the transaction is as easy as possible. Some companies opt to offer post-purchase set-up assistance or support to help customers move from engagement to purchase.

Email design matters in any successful email marketing campaign. If your emails look terrible, that reflects badly on you, and can make people stop reading. With more people than ever reading emails on mobile devices, it’s important to use a responsive email template so your email resizes automatically whether people are reading it on a phone, tablet, or desktop.
Be friendly. Feel free to use a casual tone in your email newsletters. Since most emails come directly from one person, people expect human voices in their inboxes. There's a good chance your subscribers are already in a informal frame of mind when they're checking their email, so an overly formal or stodgy voice might seem out of place. Plus, they've given you their email address, so you're already on a first-name basis. If you collect first names on your signup form, you can dynamically include them in your email greetings.
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