A well designed email is crucial in driving conversions and as part of an overall good buying experience. Sticking to the best practices we've highlighted below will ensure your emails render well across all different platforms (like Hotmail or Aol) and email clients (like Outlook Express or Mac Mail).
There are many different platforms and email clients around, all of which interpret and display emails slightly differently sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. So the best practices below are aimed to ensure your emails fit in with all of their requirements/oddities.
Aim for a pixel width of 600
Many different factors on email clients and platforms affect how the email is displayed, such as menus and toolbars.
You should try and ensure that your emails width is 600 pixels. This will ensure that there are no abnormalities in how the email is displayed.
Keep it simple (stupid!)
Apparently the average adult's attention span with emails is 8 seconds (see here), not much is it! So you should make your emails easy to read and attention grabbing so that you engage your customers. Like this great example below.
Your emails are not your website. Remember that.
Including images is a great way to condense content for your readers, but be aware that some of your readers will first see the email without any images (if their client marks it as spam) so your email design should plan for this.
Things like bullet points, short paragraphs and white space also help not to overload your reader with information and prevent them from clicking the dreaded delete button.
Don't use fancy fonts if you can help it
Fancy web fonts are nice, and a lot of email clients support them. But not all.
If you want to be sure that your email will display consistently across all platforms then you should avoid using web fonts and stick to the main system fonts, that's Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, Times New Roman and Georgia.
Consistenly brand your emails and website
Mimicing the look of your website in your email design will help to create a feel of consistency and assist with brand recognition.
The example email and website screenshot from Topshop, shown above, demonstrates how effective this can be.
When choosing the colour pallete, font choice, logo and design elements for your emails, make sure they match and compliment your website's design.
Test, test and test again
Finally, it's important that you test all of your emails to make sure that they come through as you expect them to.
A system like Mailchimp has a great tool for previewing how your email will look in all the different email clients that are available.
You should also test the design elements and try different things to see what works best. You may also consider A/B testing your emails to see what your customers respond best to, what they like and don't like.
Simple things like whether a button is orange or green can make a big different on the click-through-rate of the button.