One of the earliest and most successful ways of marketing is email marketing. Broadly stated, email marketing implies sending unique custom mails to bring in leads, promote offers, initiate deals or deliver targeted advertisements. Effective email marketing methods can increase brand visibility, and allow you to aggressively market your products.
Most marketers, however, make one major mistake- they do not optimize their email templates for the user’s inbox. Scattered and disorganized emails often play havoc on the brand’s credibility. Although, the design of the web page undoubtedly depends on the service or product you wish to “sell”, here are some basic pointers to optimizing your email templates for typical inbox usage to ensure better conversion rates.
Avoid using the word processor while composing email templates
While word processors like Open Office and Microsoft Office are good for typing documents, these programs are best avoided when designing and writing out an email template. This is simply because when the images, designs and word content are copied onto the inbox from the word file, additional codes also get re-duplicated into the mail’s HTML source. This might result in broken images and designs on the final layout, or in worst cases, recipients will not see any email texts, but only abrupt codes.
HTML editors such as Adobe Dreamweaver and Microsoft Frontpage are useful tools for composing mail templates. Basic notepads are also a good option if you are not too familiar with HTML editors.
Keep basic HTML web-standards in mind while designing
While writing the HTML cipher for your mail, ensure that it functions in different browsers smoothly. Use a standardized code that is error free. Pay attention to the HTML formatting and alignment so that your email design is supported by all types of browsers.
Avoid using CSS for your layout
While CSS or Cascading Style Sheets provide the best service as far as designing for the Internet is concerned, it is best avoided when it comes to email templates. Tables are the best option for the latter purpose. Tables ease out the process of customizing your mail template, as it allows users to make modifications to the content without really altering the code. Moreover, not all client browsers support CSS rules, and therefore it is better to opt for tables instead.
While CSS comes with more creative options, tables provide better functionality. Also, it is wiser to use tables as they are supported by all browser formats compared to CSS layouts that are supported by the relatively new browser designs.
Avoid using extraneous CSS files
If you are left with no other option but using the CSS, then use the inline CSS rather than introducing a peripheral CSS file into the mail template. Service providers like Yahoo, Gmail and Microsoft’s Outlook.com removesandtags, and therefore opting for a peripheral CSS file in the code will only result in discontinuity within the body of the mail.
Using an inline CSS to design every single element will ensure the efficient rendering of CSS styles across all kinds of mail service provider. Even though it requires greater amount of coding compared to an external CSS, it is a stable platform to design you mail templates.
Relative paths do not yield good results for the images
Opting for relative paths while displaying images is a viable option if you are using the Dreamweaver HTML editor, or writing the code in integrated development environment (IDE) like eclipse. Relative path simply means that the IDE has a reference to your web-site’s and computers inner folders along with the image’s local address. It is best to change over to absolute-image paths as they will function universally in varied development environments.
Always add Alt attributes to your images
Adding Alt attributes to your images will help search engines to understand the content of your images better. These can also be helpful for the users. For instance, some users tend to block off image display features by default, therefore an alt tag will give them a clue regarding the image. If the tag is meaningful, then the user might go through the mail to view your offers.
Always add the plain-text version
Always add the simple text version of the mail template, regardless of how attractively your HTML template may be designed. Some email apps and clients do not support HTML crafted mail messages, and therefore you should always have an alternative ready to convey your message.
Always ensure that this text version is a simple re-duplication of the original message. Both mails should be exactly the same, or it may give rise to serious mis-interpretation and miscommunication.
Avoid using long URLs
If the body of your mail is long and has too many links in it, then the overall presentation may be spoiled altogether. Shorter links obliterate all such possibilities. URL shortners like Bit.ly and Goo.gl are indispensable, especially in plain text mails, where the hyperlinks are generally enclosed within brackets(). Unkept hyperlinks can have disastrous effects, and therefore it is better to tend to the professional look of your email by using easily available tools.
Avoid the incorporation of videos
Embedding videos will only lengthen the uploading time required to open a page. Moreover, mail clients pre-configure their settings to filter messages whose sizes are too large. Therefore, attaching videos may only result in your mails being delivered to the spam folder of your clients. Using sites like Vimeo and YouTube are a better option for promoting your business and services.
Don’t forget your manners
The overall design and text creates the desired effect you seek to make on your clients. Therefore take care of both aspects. Be conscious of basic email etiquette like salutations, spelling, tone, grammar, formatting and composition. An outstanding design with a coarse content will not help you to gain any extra brownie points with clients. Therefore, take care of opening and closing salutations and ensure that the text and the design together create a holistic effect.
Email campaigns are an important aspect of affecting and influencing conversion rates. Therefore, design them so that they have the best desired effect on your clients.