Email Design Guidelines

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When you are designing email marketing messages, there are a few guidelines that you should follow in order to get your message across and make your customers interested in what you have to say. E-mails are not designed in the same way as websites, so it is important to understand the design, technical, and informational elements that make up a good HTML email that will be attractive to your customers. Here we will take a look at some of the most basic guidelines of email design that you can use.

1. Don’t waste your reader’s time.

Make sure your subject line makes sense of your email and brings the important information that will catch the reader’s attention and make him want to read what you have sent. Consider adding a table of contents at the beginning of your message in case your readers use a preview pane.

2. Make sure you have permission to send you email to the recipient.

If you do not have permission to send someone bulk email, don’t do it! This is a good way to get accused of sending spam mail and having all of your accounts shut down. Remind your readers that they subscribed to your list, why they subscribed, and that they can opt out if they do not want to continue receiving your messages.

3. Never send inessential information.

If your information isn’t relevant or one your readers are expecting, don’t send it. You want your emails to be informative, relevant, and useful, not filled with junk.

4. Usubscribe link.

Provide your readers with the necessary tools to unsubscribe from your list or change their user information. Make this information easy to find so that your readers don’t have to search through the copy for it.

5. Images in Your Email.

If you use images in your email, do not use them in important areas of your message. Not all email clients will display graphic images unless the reader instructs it to. All they will see it as a blank spot with an ‘X’ in it. Many readers won’t even realize that they can have the images displayed. In order to improve your emails, add a link to the web version of your email that will display the images easier.

6. Structural Tables.

Use structural tables if you need to display information in more than a single column. Most email clients for some odd reasons cannot use floats, so simple tables are your best bet.

7. Add inline styles.

Add inline styles to your content instead of CSS. E-mail clients tend to strip the CSS coding out of areas that are not part of the style block in the body.

8. Plain text version.

Provide a plain text version for your readers. Not everyone can view HTML emails so make sure you have a version ready for those who prefer plain text. Test your plain text version before you send it so that you can be assured that it lines up nicely and displays properly.

9. Do not violate any laws.

Finally, make sure your emails do not violate any laws. Make sure you process any unsubscribe requests within one week of receipt. In order to meet this requirement, you will need to have the following in each email you send:

  • Double opt-in subscriber lists
  • Legitimate name and from email addresses
  • Accurate and descriptive subject lines
  • Valid reply-to addresses that double as an unsubscribe mechanism
  • Valid mailing address of you or your clients
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