The SIGMA task force who explored email best practices also spent some time on creative email design and the need-to-know information surrounding effective campaign creative. Email creative design is subjective; however, there are certain rules that if followed will more than likely improve the overall success of your campaign. Here are 10 rules to follow when designing email creative:
- Your email base template should be no more than 600 pixels wide.
- The call to action in your email creative and first mention of important information should appear "above-the-fold," or no more than 300 pixels from the top of your creative.
- Your text to image ratio should adhere to the 80/20 rule
- If using a background image in your HTML email, be sure to include an appropriate background color in your HTML code. Not all email delivery providers support background images.
- Load time is important - keep your total email files size (including images) to 40K or less.
- Images in your HTML should be linked to, not loaded inside, the email.
- Your plain-text version should be formatted for visual ease right along with your HTML version of your email. Do not disregard the importance of the plain-text version of your email.
- Remember, you are technically designing an email for the web, so use web-safe fonts to maintain layout integrity.
- Your images should not exclusively contain vitally important message content. Images can often times be blocked. (As a little added bonus, utilize Alt-Tags on all images appropriately to describe the image or call to action where images are blocked.)
- Always maintain client brand standards - in addition to best practices for email creative design.
We might also recommend setting up some standard email templates that adhere to the design best practices. Give yourself some options from a template perspective, but setting them up in advance can prevent some missteps down the road, and take out some guesswork in email creative design.
Not sure which template will work best? Do some A/B Testing! Set up two creative templates, and split the delivery among your list recipients. One will probably perform better over the other, giving you an indication of which creative elements are working better. You might even experiment with and test the creative surrounding your primary call-to-action. It should align closely with the subject line.
Remember that the majority of email recipients are "scanners." You might consider trimming down your wording in some cases, and using bolding and highlighting sparingly and appropriately to draw attention to key points of your message.
We could go on and on with suggestions and things to try, test and carry through - but this list should get you started in thinking about best practices for email creative design.