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Email design. The Basics.

Whether you design your own email template from scratch or adapt a pre made template the main goal is to create an efficient way of communication with your actual and potential clients. To achieve this, your newsletter should have an attractive and efficient design, have interesting content and look properly in all important email clients.

When I say efficient design, I mean that the newsletter should inspire confidence, build a relation of trust and loyalty between your business and costumers and in no case it should annoy or create negative associations. The most important things for a good email design are: it should to be easily recognized, have a web based version, simple unsubscribe option; integration with social media, which is a must nowadays and a mobile version. The content would be well structured and display all the images correctly.

Design continuity. When someone receives your newsletter, especially if it’s the first time, he should understand immediately who the sender is. This will create the first impression which will lead to one of the following: he will read or rather ignore your mail, or worse, will mark it as spam. You should be consistent and design your newsletter in the same style. It should be image and brand continuity of your website. Include your logo in the header of the newsletter along with your slogan or other symbols of your brand. Use the same colors, fonts and graphics as on your website as much as possible. In the footer of the newsletter, include your contact information. In the same place you can give a small explanation why the reader received this email from you. It would sound something like: “You’re receiving this newsletter because you signed up to receive Your CompanyName newsletter. To ensure our newsletter always reaches your inbox, please add info@youcompanyname.com to your address book.”

The web based version. Some of your subscribers can’t or don’t want to view html emails in their email clients. This is why you should include a “View the online version” link in the header of your newsletter. This link will open the newsletter in the default browser.

Integration with social media. Your newsletter is a good way to gather more fans on your Facebook page, more followers on Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube etc as well as more subscribers to your RSS feed. To connect your readers with your accounts on your favorite social networks, just don’t forget to include in a visible place of your newsletter the respective call to action links. Also, you can add Facebook “Like” and Twitter “Twitt” buttons for each article, product or entire newsletter. Or an even easier way to promote your newsletter is to add a “Forward to a friend” link.

Good content structure. Don’t just duplicate in your newsletter all the content from your website. If you have a promotion, a special offer or an important announcement make sure you place it in the most visible place, above the rest of the content. Decide which content is most important and place it on the top. Capture attention with big titles and colored call to action buttons, but be careful not to overdo it. Don’t place full articles. A few sentences with a “read more” link to your website are enough.

Using images, flash, interactive forms. Most of the email clients have the images turned off by default. That’s why it’s not recommended to include important content inside images. You have to make sure your readers will be able to get your message even if they had the images turned off. The images you use shouldn’t be too large. Keep in mind that some email clients (like Outlook 2007) don’t support background images. Don’t embed flash and don’t use interactive forms.

Designing for mobile. Optimize your newsletter for mobile devices or create a mobile-friendly version of your newsletter and provide a link to it.

Simple unsubscribe possibility. Don’t forget to include an unsubscribe link. Don’t even try to hide it from the reader. If someone decided to unsubscribe, it’s better to let him go than to get an annoyed subscriber, or even worse, a spam complaint.

It’s very important never to stop improving your email design. Analyze your reader’s behavior, experiment with different layout structures, make conclusions and use all this information to improve your newsletter template and thus your company’s image constantly. Good luck!