HTML Email Design & Content Guidelines

Content Tips and Guidelines for HTML Email

Be Brief – HTML email is not a brochure or an advertorial. The message is the medium and long emails are ignored. Think Twitter, not War & Peace.

Engaging and exciting – Use video. Use social media call to actions. Link to a photo gallery online from an event. Have a competition to encourage engagement, Facebook likes and Twitter followers. Give them something. Or give them the opportunity to get something – anything!

Are you spamming? – Send unto others as you would have them send unto you. Is it news or is it spam? Do you even know what news is? News is not your brochure converted to an email. Nor is news a long diatribe on your latest product offering – no matter how pretty the pictures.

Bringing a new product or service to market? Think like a signboard on the freeway for a main masthead image. Then three to five bullet benefits. Then a link online to find out more – preferably to a page with a video to watch about the product and it’s benefits for customers and clients. Online you can give more. The email is the hook, not the whole fish in the pan.

Guidelines for HTML email design

Yes, html text really is needed. The “easy” way to deliver a design for html, especially a complicated design, is to simply slice the images up and place them as images within an html code wrapper. This method fails because:

1. Cellphones don’t know what to do with the images and shrinks them to an illegible size.

2. Text as an image is never going to be as clear as actual text on a page.

3. This method adversely affects the text to image ratio applied by spam filters.

Simple html design is best – Current research indicates that plain text emails have a higher read rate than html emails! HTML images have their place – but over design negatively impacts readership.

Template html design is best – Design one to three base templates then swap out the masthead, headline, body copy and images per edition. Make sure the three templates work well and reuse them. Custom designing and slicing of complicated designs gets in the way of message delivery. The idea of email is to send good, coherent messages out fast – not agonise over whether a complicated design will be delivered correctly across multiple platforms.

Send from a human, not a company – Our experience indicates that if the from address and reply to address comes from a real person, the read rate increases.

HTML email is not a design program – HTML email is not Illustrator! HTML email has very limited design capabilities. HTML email on cellphones? Even less.

Do not – Design a complicated layout – especially where images are placed next to or underneath html text copy. It may be possible to slice pages up with html that can be seen on a web browser. However, background images cannot be seen on common versions of Outlook. This makes placing images next to text extremely complicated and impossible to place images underneath text.

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