GRAPHICMAIL – The email newsletter is a powerful marketing tool that can remind subscribers about you, inform them about your products, tell them what you have been up to and help build relationships with them.
But the inbox is a busy place. Just think — dozens or even hundreds of other emails could already be on the pile by the time your message gets there. When your email does arrive, the trick is to make sure it doesn’t look like you might be wasting your readers’ time.
It’s important to stress email is a “scanning” environment. Subscribers won’t necessarily read your emails — at least not before they’ve skimmed over it quickly to make a flash judgment about whether what you have to say will be worth their while. If your content seems interesting, they may choose to devote more than just a few seconds — but only if you’re able to grab them in the “scanning” phase.
With this in mind, here are four easy design-oriented tips to help you get to the point and maximize readability:
1. Design for the Preview Pane. The human eye normally scans an email from top left to right, and then down. So while it’s a good idea to have a banner graphic for visual impact, don’t make it too big. That is, try to get your key “text” message as close to the top left corner of your email as possible so it is visible within the preview pane, without the reader needing to scroll around. Don’t bury the value of your marketing email under a mountain of trivia. Get to the point quickly.
2. Don’t forget “alt” text. Since all the email clients out there on the web don’t conform to the same set of visual standards, images are often blocked by default, with image “alt” text displayed instead — unless you haven’t provided any. Therefore, remember to populate “alt” tags for every image, so subscribers who have blocking on will at least see a short description of your pictures, which may encourage them to click the “display images below” action.
3. Fall back on colors. If you want to use a background image in your design, just remember some email clients don’t support them, so it’s wise to provide a background differentiated from your text color for the email client can fall back on. The simple point here is to enable your subscribers to read your message no matter what.
4. A link can save the day. It’s a good idea to provide a link to a web-based alternative to your email at or close to the top of the HTML newsletter in case, despite your best efforts, there are still display issues. This will let each reader view your email in his or her browser if they can’t see it properly in their inbox.