Email Marketing: Coolest Tips, Tools and Resources
There were concerns a few years ago that email marketing part will reduce and be ineffective. These concerns were based on fast rise of social media and mobile devices use. People used emails for communication more and more rarely. However, such pessimistic forecasts never came true and email today is one of the most popular and effective marketing means.
Modern email design is not a plain and boring text as it used to be a few years ago. Today emails are created in a way similar to that of web pages and this makes them highly appealing. But there are a number of differences that add unique features to email design .
Basic Email Types
There are different types of emails for different purposes. Choosing the right type for your audience and for the content you wish to share with them is essential for a perfect marketing campaign. Select the email type that fits your intentions and design it in a way that highlights your message the best. Among the most known email types are:
Notifications. The most common type of email you can spot in your box everyday. If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, you usually get such notifications when someone follows you or tags you in a photo.
Notification emails can play the role of announcements for small businesses. In most cases such emails are sent when a customer subscribes for the Company newsletter for the first time or creates an account on online store website. Such notification emails can be a trigger that pushes users to perform further actions such as confirm their subscription data, fill the profile or register a demo account etc.
Notification emails are usually pretty short and feature a prominent call-to-action.
Newsletters. Another very common email type that is usually filled with various kinds of content including longer articles, new product presentations, links for a website content and CTAs.
Newsletter emails are the closest in their design to web pages and there can be quite a challenge for web designers in creating newsletters that follow the main website style and contain essential data without overwhelming users with tons of unnecessary info. The best way of achieving good results with newsletter design is creating a perfect sense of hierarchy with one story as a main type of content and a few ones not so important.
Transaction Emails. They may act similarly to notification emails but for a strong CTA inside that requires some kind of reaction from a user like an order confirmation email. You can mostly spot such emails when you abandon your shopping cart without finishing your order transaction or in case you registered a trial account and it’s time to decide whether you need full service.
Marketing Emails. This kind of emails is a straight business proposal to a customer with a bold call-to-action. This can be a notification of a discount on some selected products or about special or seasonal offers.
These emails, similarly to notifications, are usually short and straight-to-the-point.
Email Marketing Key Features and Killer Tips
People get tons of emails everyday. So you need to make your email stand out of the crowd and draw attention in any case. Here are the best practices and coolest tips on how to achieve these goals.
Responsiveness above All
Like the entire web content today, email design should be responsive or die. Most people use mobile devices for work even more often than for pleasure. Thus, you should think of creating email that will look great on small screen in the first place.
Responsive design is still the best way of getting your email on your customers devices. However, there are some considerations about the design and typography. Emails are mostly meant to be read, so you should make them easy-to-perceive on smaller displays. Responsive emails are easily resizable and can fit any screen resolution, but they work the best with pretty simple designs.
Here are a few tips on how to create an awesome responsive email with no hassle:
- Choose narrow layout. About 600 pixels will be enough for your email to look great on desktop and mobile without significant rearrangements in content;
- Make your imagery resizable and go for SVG pics and animation;
- Go for bold, large and easy-to-read typography. Don’t go below the minimum size typography for different OS but avoid using huge type that will look clumsy on smaller screens;
- Make your CTAs and links easy to tap. Thus, your buttons should be large enough and arranged at some distance from other call-to-actions to make them easily tapped on the first try;
- Use the display:none in HTML editor to hide all the unnecessary content from mobile email. It’s better not to clutter restricted space with clumsy visuals.
Unlike web pages that people visit intentionally, emails are sent mostly unexpectedly (unless they are for your subscribers). One of the main challenges for email marketing is making people click and open your email. You should catch a person’s attention before he or she goes to the next message in the box. The best way to do this today is being personal and useful for your reader.
Keep your content short and to-the-point. Remember: it’s not a web page where you can offer plenty of visuals and various information to read. Emails are mostly meant to draw users’ attention and guide them to your website for more info.
Adding social buttons may be a good idea for creating an engaging email. Make those buttons prominent but make sure they not suppress other vital elements of the email like call-to-action buttons.
Most users have settings that prevent email imagery from loading initially, so typography may be the only thing they will see from your email. Thus, you should make your typography look and read the best. Use bold and engaging headlines to draw attention and lead your customers through the email content. Make sure they are clear and have the prominent message.
Call-to-Action Email Practices
Calls-to-action are pretty much the main thing in the email content. No matter what type of email you send to your users, you mostly with they to perform some kind of action. Thus, calls-to-action in your email should be prominent and easy-to-perceive.
There are two main types of CTA elements for email layout: links and buttons. You can read here an in-detail guide on common practices for calls-to-action. In most cases they are perfectly applicable for email CTA design. Here are a few recommendations specific for email call-to-action creation:
- Don’t try to fit your links into the email content. It’s better to make the headlines clickable. Thus you kill two birds with one stone: make your headlines and subheadings more prominent and draw users attention to the essential info of your email;
- Buttons are meant to be clicked. And, as I already mentioned above, you should make them easy-to-tap too. Thus, the should be large enough and alienated from other clickable elements;
- Don’t put your CTA elements too far down the email content. There are not enough chance users will scroll your email heavily, so it’s better to catch their attention as early as possible.
A Few More Tips
When it comes to the email design it’s better to choose minimalism and make it as simple and clear as possible. It makes your email more mobile-friendly and increases chances it will be opened and read.
Warby Parker – Thanks for Your Order
Don’t forget to test your email a lot and remove all the bugs and errors from it. Test it on as many devices as you can to make sure it will look perfect on any user’s smartphone or tablet. In addition, with early testing you will see what framework and template suits your needs better and will have more chance to choose the coolest framework.
Frameworks for Email Design
There are a lot of free or low-budget tools, services and resources that will help you to create a cool email design with ease. You just have to chose one that suits your needs and intentions the best. Of course, you can code an HTML template yourself. But you can also use frameworks and boilerplates that will give you the best results and save a lot of your precious time.
Ink of Zurb Foundation allows creating responsive emails that are claimed to work on any device and with any email client. There are a few basic templates including a hero-image one and a sidebar layouts. Ink is easy to start and easy to use.
Cerberus is another highly popular framework that offers you a set of basic templates that you can fill with a content you want. This “three-headed dog” of email templates allows making fully-responsive templates that work with any mobile, desktop client as well as with Outlook, Android and Mobile Gmail.
This Free Template Builder of CampaignMonitor offers you to create a cool-looking and absolutely unique email template from scratch within its WYSIWYG template editor. Add images and articles from your computer, customize the receiver’s name, add links and eve social buttons. You can register to CampaignMonitor to use its email services for as low as $9/per month. Or download the created email to your computer to use it in some other email client.
Additionally, you may wish to browse some of the premade email templates and use them in your marketing campaign after making a few changes.
Antwort is another free email builder that offers a set of templates that will work with any client including Outlook and Gmail. Its responsive structure allow building emails for almost all screen widths.
Graphic Mail offers you loads of responsive email templates which you can customize according to your specific needs. You can sign-up for a free trial to check out its services or login for an account starting from $9.95 a month.
Free Email Tools and Plugins
Various email tools help creating design elements like buttons and calls-to-action. They also provide testing and check out your email on bugs and errors.
This easy-to-use tool allows creating cool-looking CSS buttons. Since not all clients are set automatically to display images, this may become a problem for your pic-style calls-to-action. Use Da Button Factory to avoid this issue and make your CTA button prominent in your email.
Another service that allows you creating enhanced VML or CSS buttons with a help of a visual or a CSS editor. Choose among three preset buttons, change the color, background image and text, add a link and you’re done!
In addition to Bulletproof Email Buttons you can use this tool from CampaignMonitor. Bulletproof Background Images offers you pretty simple interface to create a stunning-looking responsive background for your email.
This service is a great testing tool that allows you to check out the look of your email on various platforms and devices. It examines your email for bugs and broken links. You can start a free 7-day trial to check out all its options.
Pretty similar testing service that also have a 7-day free trial. You can check the email look on different clients, track the email analytics and test its performance on various devices.
This tool from MailChimp allows you getting a clean text version of your HTML email. Simply paste the HTML code into the window and get its text version immediately.
Premailer’s Dialect helps to remove broken links or HTML tags from your email. It turns your messy HTML into a beautiful and clean CSS-style email.
Best Free Email Services
Email services help you with your emails from creating a template to managing its delivery to the clients.
One of the most popular services that offers a free plan of 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers. You can also create an email within its editor and track the analytics on your email performance.
MailKitchen also offers a free plan for those who need not more than 15,000 emails to 5,000 contacts per month. As with many other services, you can choose a free template or add your own. Analytics tracking is also available.
This service is pretty much similar to MailKitchen. Free plan also includes 15,000 emails per month to 5,000 contacts. Paid plans start for as little as $10 a month.
Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) is a cool option for small businesses that use Amazon. It’s completely free for Amazon EC2 users and allows them sending up to 2,000 emails per day. If you need more you will have to pay a fee as little as $.10 per one thousand emails.
Thus, you now can see that email is not dead. This is a vital marketing tool that can bring your business a lot of customers if created and used wisely.