Spam Assassin and blacklisted words –
Many email servers will look for specific blacklisted words that are utilized by spam services. When these are seen in subject lines or redundant within the content, they are often blacklisted and you will not be allowed to publish on that server again. Avoid the following words and offer styles:
- Free, BOGO, %,
- Act now, For limited time
- Subject lines and Pre-headers that utilize sexually oriented, pornographic, hate related and or profanity
Use emojis in your subject line! Whether to accent specific words or make them part of your call to action (CTA). Experian noted that fifty-six percent of brands using emoji in their email subject lines had a higher unique open rate.
Nothing gives your reader more piece of mind that you do not spam than a solid preheater. This supports the valuable context of your subject line and can help your open rate.
Scripted Personalization –
Email services offering <inserted name> personalized subject lines are 25% + more likely to be opened.
Content priority —
Use sectional layouts to break up your content and priority — make sure that your primary call to action is listed closer to the top, and then as you descend do so in the matter of importance.
The "Inverted Pyramid" (see example below) –
When laying out your primary CTA utilize the inverted pyramid, structuring the elements of your email so they work together to draw the reader to your CTA, such as a button, video or hyperlink.
Your email width should be a minimum of 640 pixels, with a maximum of 800 prior to a background color. While I've only outlined width here, my suggestion would be to ensure that the email is not so lengthy as to overstep its intent.
File Size –
Ensure that any large JPEG has been compressed properly to maximize file size.
Alt Text –
Many email servers still publish an email in text format prior to an HTML format. Therefore, if you want to ensure that you have text in the place of imagery, allowing Alt Text to display in its place.
Hyperlink all images –
If the reader touches any graphic on an email it should be redirected to a location of your choosing. Therefore, take the time to ensure that you have hyperlinked any image to be forwarded to a destination based upon your campaign or messaging.
Negative Space –
This design principle is simply adding ample white space (or colored “negative space”) around the elements, both text, and images allowing the reader to discern one section from another.
- Keep your subject line short
- Use preheader text
- Use minimal body copy
- 16pt sized font usage is a good size for mobile viewing
- Ensure that your images are large enough to see (I'm a particular advocate of square formatting as well).
- Place a minimum of two CTA Buttons with in an email, one after your inverted pyramid design, and one at the bottom of your content, prior to your social media icons.
- Ensure that any CTA buttons are a color that will stand out in contrast to the primary tones used an email.
Video & Animation –
While many of the newer email services allow you to embed video, older lists and legacy email applications often do not. Therefore, my suggestion is always to put an animated GIF in the place of a video and link to the location of the video within the GIF.
A/B Test –
If your email services offer A/B testing of subject lines or body content, ensure that you utilize this. There are an array of metrics that you should keep your eye on to ensure maximum open rate such as:
- Does your audience prefer shorter or longer subject lines?
- Do you have any successful trigger words/emojis? (e.g. "Awesome" "Immediately" etc.)
- Heat mapping your emails will show you where your readers are apt to click on the page. Over the course of several emails, you'll begin to see useful patterns and redundancies.
- The emotional tone of the email content
- Types of photography chosen
Social Media Icons –
Always be sure to include social media icons to your social graph, in the footer of your email. Additionally, a way to bolster interest in a specific channel is to get a graphic (such as an Instagram photo) that came from that particular channel and link the image to it.
Contact & Feedback –
Creating a contact link is one thing, but often readers assume it is simply to engage in a course of action with the content. While feedback links are often seen as a more passive way of communicating one's opinion but not committing to the content. Lines of communication are extremely important and worthy of aggregate.
Layout Madness –
Be careful not to have too many fonts or style variations on your layout. It's obnoxious and has the uncanny ability to make your messaging come across and amateurish. Only, BOLD items that are impactful, and match your TEXT colors to fall in lockstep with your brand or main image.