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Design Tips for the Email Marketer in All of Us

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Email Marketing

3 min read

With it being the holiday season, many of us are turning down the email marketing engine and letting it cool off until the New Year. But just because you are not creating and sending right now, doesn't mean you can't be thinking about how to make your next email look even better (and in as many browsers as possible).

Because I sit just down the hall from our wonderful customer care team, I know for a fact that many of you call in asking for advice on email design and why it is not looking the way you thought it would.

Did you know there are more than 50 different email clients out there with each offering multiple ways to view emails? Now you know why it is very important to try your best to get your email to render properly in as many clients as you can.
 
Wait, someone else just called in asking about design. I better get this post up fast.
 
Here are a handful of tips that are sure to help any email designer improve their next campaign.
 
Overall design tips
 
Keep email width under 600 pixels - This is a general rule as the preview pane for many email clients doesn't get much wider than that. It is also the limit when using the editor within SimplyCast.
 
Think above the fold - There is nothing wrong with your email being full of great content but it should be your goal to make it so your readers don't need to scroll down to see it. Some will read all the way to the bottom but most will skim the beginning and move on. Park all the important info at the top of an email and don't forget all those people on their smart phones. The key aspects of the email include logo, call-to-action, navigation, primary subject matter, etc.
 
Short and sweet - Don't overload your email with content that does not need to be there. Use the email as a tool to drive readers to your website or landing page. It is all about giving them a taste of what you have to say followed by a call-to-action. This is also valuable for tracking purposes since you can track how many people land on a page.
 
Keep it simple - Don't spend all day designing a HTML masterpiece that looks like it was made in Hollywood and expect everyone to see it the way you hope they will. In most cases, the more difficult your email is to code, the more difficult it will be to see across all of the email clients. If you are having problems getting things to work the way you want, don't forget to contact SimplyCast's team of code magicians for assistance.
 
Speak of the wonderful world of HTML…..
 
HTML Do's and Don'ts
 
Hand-coded emails are best - Many simple HTML editors often will add a pile of extra code that email clients don't like so much and can cause your email to display poorly. A great practice to get in the habit of doing is pasting your content into notepad first before you enter it into the editor. This will strip out any unwanted code. Microsoft Word, for example, has a bad habit of adding all kinds of stuff you don't want.
 
Tables are the way to go - Want a foolproof way to ensure your email will render correctly across all email browsers? Try using tables. Before you type anything into the editor, just insert a table (just one box will do) and enter your content within. This really helps control the size and alignment of your email.
 
Flash is not cool – Most email clients have the option to view all rich media platforms turned off by default. That means most people will never see that cool video or moving logo that you made. Instead provide a link to view your creation on a custom landing page.
 
Avoid Javascript and other dynamic scripts - Not much to say here. Most email clients will not allow these scripts to function so there is no need to even try. Don't use them and all will be good.
 
Avoid Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) - Many email clients strip out CSS or over-write it. That means a lot of hard work that will never get seen. Even though the use of CSS is acceptable in email, there are guidelines you need to follow. Simple attributes like text style, colour, and sizing are usually okay and acceptable across the majority of email clients. It is when you start defining things like spacing, margins and other positional elements that will get you in trouble.
 
Don't embed images - There is no reason to even try this if you are using SimplyCast. We will host all of your images for you. To learn more about the do's and don'ts for using images in emails, check out this post.
 
Still have questions or not sure why your email is giving you a hard time in the rendering department? Contact our customer care team right now.
 
Hoping you and your HTML have a happy holidays!
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