The truth is, people make instant judgments about whether or not they’ll read your emails, and it’s all based on a quick glance. You do it too!
Here’s how we all sort through our inboxes:
- We choose an email message
- We give it a two-second glance
- We decide if it’s worth our time
- If it is, we keep it and read it
- If it’s not, we hit the delete key, and send the email to the trash.
So how can you keep your email out of the trash?
Success lies in good design.
Let’s take a closer look at seven common design mistakes that get emails trashed, and I’ll offer more than seven solutions to help your next email get read.
1. Say ‘hello’
Your emails should feature an instantly-recognisable, consistent header image. Ideally, this email header should relate to your business or the product your reader signed up to learn more about. So, if you’re a health club and you have a specific email newsletter just for members with weight loss goals, your header should directly relate to the information you’re sharing, and look visually connected to your overall brand. Over time, your header image will be associated with the high-quality information you share.
2. Avoid hard-to-read fonts
Your email newsletter’s main goal is to communicate, and – obviously – that happens through words. But, what if the words are hard to read? Be sure to avoid these two errors:
- Using fonts that are too small. This is especially important if some of your readers are 50 and over, and may have eyesight problems. And with so many emails being viewed on smartphones, it makes sense to increase font sizes.
- Using too many fonts. Combining too many different fonts makes your email look messy and unprofessional. Pare it down to no more than two fonts, and just use the italic and bold weights to add variety.
3. Be mindful of colour catastrophes
For your email to look professional and inviting, you have to master color. The biggest color mistakes are:
- Garish colour. Stay away from colours that are overly bright or fluroescent. Tone them down so they don’t compete with your words.
- Too many colours. Use a colour palette with two dominant colours and tone down the rest to make your emails look cohesive.
- Light text on a dark background. The most readable combination is dark text on a light background, so stick to that whenever possible.
4. Order your information logically
You can make your emails instantly look more inviting by avoiding these formatting problems:
- No hierarchy of information. When a reader glances at your email, they should know right away which information is the most important, what they should look at next, and what’s the least important. Make this obvious by using a larger, bolder and brighter main headline. Make your subheads smaller and less prominent. Make your legal information, notices and “housekeeping” messages smallest and least important.
- Great walls of text. To make your messages easy to scan, use plenty of subheadings. Write in short paragraphs, and break up your text into easily-digestible chunks.
5. Steer clear of awful images
There’s nothing that says “an amateur designed this email” like cheap clip art. Avoid cheesy images and stock photography that looks staged and fake. Remember, people want to do business with real people, so use your own photos or acquire stock images that are high quality and look natural.
6. Be consistent with your contact details
Sometimes predictability is a good thing. Include your contact information, your company mission, and your social media profiles in a consistent footer area at the base of every email. This makes them look professional and it also makes it easy for your readers to stay in contact with you outside of their inboxes.
7. Stick to a good thing
You may want to tweak your email template after reading this article, and that’s great. However, once you’ve got it looking good, resist the urge to keep changing it. One way to keep your emails from being trashed is to choose a look and stick to it for a while so people recognise who the email is coming from in a quick glance.
Take steps now to make your emails clear and readable. Use these tips to create a recognisable brand experience with every message you send. It’s the best way to ensure that the great information you share doesn’t end up in the virtual junk box.
Article written by Justin Tamsett for What’s New In Fitness Magazine – Autumn 2013 edition.