The theme for the past two weeks has been centred around eShots, email marketing campaigns and SPAM. This week I thought it appropriate to look at the design of the eShot - the look and feel of the email.
The first thing to bear in mind is that an eShot should reflect the corporate brand: unfortunately it is all too easy for people to forget this in the pursuit of getting something done, and often getting something done quickly. There are a plethora of email template design systems, all ranging in price: some of them offer standard templates which can be used, free of charge, at the click of a button. The key points are free of charge and click of a button: nothing in life is free and Rome wasn't built in a day. In the past, on the SymVolli blog, we have discussed the idea of doing something on the cheap and it is important that you have taken time to implement a template that will reflect the companies image, rather than a generic one. Furthermore it is the aim of a marketing campaign to leave a positive lasting impression, rather than the impression that this eShot was generated by choosing a template from 1 of say 10 or 20.
So you have now elected to have your template professionally designed: what do you need to look out for?
The main consideration is what will be the first thing the user will see. Bear in mind that the first viewing of your eShot may well be via a preview pane: each preview pane will vary in height and width depending on the email client being used and the settings the user has chosen. The ideal solution would be to place the most important element of you message so that it appears within the preview pane, enticing the user to double click and open the email, for further viewing, in a new window.
- Make sure the key content is visible via the preview pane so as the user is enticed into double clicking rather than them having to double click
- That your template is not too wide: although current industry standard for web pages may be 1024 x 768 it is best to eShot templates to at least half of that width so they appear clearly within a preview pane - bear in mind AOLs preview pane is as small as 194 pixels wide
- Ensure that your corporate brand is clearly identifiable and that your company logo is visible - this will allow your recipient to disseminate your email from the rest of the SPAM they receive on a daily basis
One mistake that people often fall into is that they design their content using lots of images. Whilst this has the advantage of allowing you to design potentially one of the most stunning eShots your recipient may ever take receipt of, it also has the potential to hide and hinder the transmission of your message. Due to various security measures etc. which have been put in place, the user is able to choose whether they want to download any graphics which are embedded in an email. As a result if you bury your message in images the user may choose not to download the images and therefore never read the message you are trying to communicate.
- DO NOT bury your entire message in images - the user may choose to never download the images and therefore never read your message
- More images means more download time - more and more people are reading their emails on their phones and therefore the size of the email, in terms of kilobytes (KB) needs to be kept to a minimum - furthermore, regardless of what the user may be using to read the email (phone or computer) the bigger in size, the more download time is required, the longer it takes to properly display the whole email
- Do not make your images so 'snazzy' that they detract from your message - use them to emphasise what you are trying to say not dominate what you are saying
NB: Too many images and not enough text, as I discussed in last weeks blog post, runs the risk of your eShot being branded as SPAM.
You have caught the recipients attention and they have decided to double click and open the email: the next trick is to get them to use your call to action, to download a PDF, to call you for further information etc. The call to action should be placed in a prominant position so as to always be in the users eye line.
- Do not waffle: quickly get to the point and stick to it. A users attention span is short lived - think how you react when you receive and email
- Essays are meant for white papers and articles; not eShots
- Style keywords in bold so they immediately jump off the page and hopefully entice the user to read the whole email and pursue their interest further
- Where possible merge the recipients email address into the email (the best place for this is usually in the footer) - this is purely for administrative purposes. Sometimes emails are forwarded on and when the user then asks to have the original email address removed from your future campaign lists, you then have a headache on your hands trying to track who you orginally sent it to.
- Include a forward to a friend link - this will encourage people to share the eShot therefore allowing you to reach an audience that you are not even aware of
And the legal stuff:
You are required to include somewhere on your eShot the registered company number and the registered company address. You are also required to provide some form of a mechanism which allows users to unsubscribe from future campaigns.
The Final Word - TEST
You can never underestimate the value of testing an eShot prior to sending out to its intended audience.
- Check to see that the eShot looks good - the first impression will be based on the subject line of the eShot, which is next weeks blog topic, and the look and feel of the eShot itself
- Ensure all images have been correctly uploaded
- Proof read - the last thing you want is to send out an eShot which looks like it has been designed and written in a matter of minutes without any care and attention