The first hurdle to overcome when developing an email marketing campaign is to get your emails opened and read, and this requires great design. There is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ email – the one design or formula that guarantees sky-high open rates and engagement stats, although this is the holy grail that many email marketers dream about.
However, there are lots of things you can to improve the design of your email, to increase open rates and engagement to a realistically achievable target. Here are some very useful tips to point you in the right direction:
Spend time on subject lines. You only have this one line to convince recipients to open your email, so this is where you should be spending a lot of your time. Be creative, inventive, quirky, funny…whatever you need to do to pique their interest and get that email opened. Sometimes, the best subject lines are those that are slightly off-topic (but be careful of misleading recipients as to the content of the email) or those that promise, and deliver, some sort of value to the recipient (i.e. a special offer, exclusive content, a first look at a new product).

Get to the point. It’s so tempting to try to engage recipients with paragraphs of fun, witty writing, squeezing every single nugget of information you have into the one email. The brutal truth? This is essentially just waffle, which people won’t read – you’ll be lucky if they just skim through it. Your emails need to have a clear goal and a purpose, and you mustn’t get distracted from this. If you want to launch a new product, raise awareness of an event, share a new piece of content or announce some news – focus on getting this, and only this, message across. Keep it short, snappy and to the point.

Be personal and address your audience. One of email service Constant Contact’s top tips is to write your emails as if you’re addressing just one person. Picture this person in your mind and write to them directly, using their name (not too much – that can be a bit creepy) and being human and personal in your approach.

Make a visual impact. People respond well to visual content online, as it can be consumed and make an impact instantly. Embrace this approach with gorgeous visuals, but make sure they don’t slow anything down.

Optimise for mobile. So many people read emails on their smartphones and tablets these days, and they’ll never open your emails again if they try to on a mobile device and elements look strange, are hard to read or don’t load.

Segment, target and personalise. One of the best ways to engage recipients of marketing emails is to make your messages relevant to them specifically. This doesn’t have to be time-consuming, as there are many tools and services available to help you segment your subscriber lists and automatically personalise emails depending on characteristics such as location, purchase history or age.