Stay away from these email villains!

Designing a marketing email is sort of like hiring a marketing team that’s going to run your entire promotional effort. Each different design element you could possibly add to your email promotion package is like a distinct character of their own and while some of these characters are great, professional and very effective, others are just losers who will only sink your better elements.

Fortunately, knowing which characters to avoid doesn’t have to be a game of guesswork. We’ve done most of this work for you by creating a public enemies list. Here’s a quick introduction to The Five Killers of Good Email Design.

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1. Mr. Loud Colors

What’s wrong with Mr. Loud Colors? Quite simply it’s that he’s like the guy at a business meeting who dresses completely in pink or purple. He may have something serious to say but nobody at all is going to hear it because they’ll be too busy wondering what’s up with his suit.

Don’t make this mistake with any of your campaign materials, from mail-outs to landing pages and any other pages in your marketing funnel. Even if you’re selling flowers, stick as much as possible to softer colors that don’t distract from your actual written or audio message.

Instead, use more neutral colors such as white, gray, blue and other low key shades that offer style but don’t call more attention than what you’re trying to actually say.

2. Mr. Distortion

Mr. Distortion, just like Mr. Loud Colors, is a problematic character, but in his case, he’s like the guy that acts professionally sometimes and completely loses it on other occasions. Avoid this problem by always testing your emails.

In other words, when you create a well-designed, professional email campaign that seems to work, go ahead and actually make sure that it looks equally professional and as you designed it regardless of what email system it’s sent to.

Be sure to test across all major clients, including Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, Hotmail and whoever else you notice your clients using. Check each email to each client thoroughly and fix errors as necessary. One good way to minimize the chance of problems is by keeping your email structure as simple and straightforward as possible (while still keeping your message interesting). This may seem tedious but it can save you from hundreds of customers not reading your messages.

3. Mr. Red X

Mr. Red X is the kind of guy who shows up because you didn’t carefully explain your message even in places where it didn’t seem necessary, especially when you have images in your emails.

In other words, when you’re creating your next email marketing message and decide to include some images without having bothered to explain each with an alt tag (a text description that describes your image), Mr. Red X will appear, literally, as a red X, if your clients have image display turned off in their email. Thus, instead of a piece of engaging copy describing your equally engaging image, all these subscribers will see is Mr. Red X.

4. Mr. Pixels

Mr. Pixels is a character who thinks he looks good, so more of him must look better. Sadly, that’s just not the case.

In other words, Mr. Pixels is the guy that shows up when you take nice looking small images and try to resize them into something larger. Instead of what you wanted, what you get is an ugly, deeply pixelated mess that looks unprofessional.

Instead, stick to the original sizes of your images and if you’d like bigger photos, then upload pictures whose natural pixel size is large enough.

5. Mr. Wordy

Finally we get down to Mr. Wordy, possibly one of the worst and most insidious characters in your campaign. He thinks he’s so charming that he can’t shut up and stop showboating with too much copy and imagery. And instead of impressing, all he does is talk your customers right out of your email without them ever clicking on anything.

In other words, don’t overload your email body with too much copy, too much unnecessary description and too many images. Instead, remember the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) and get to your point as smoothly and quickly as you can.

So now that you know who these five dangerous characters are, you also know who needs to be kept away from your email campaign.

New Canadian Anti-Spam law taking effect July 1st

Canada has passed a new, strict anti-spam law named the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) which takes effect July 1, 2014. What does this mean for you? Even if you’re not a Canadian company violation of the law may draw fines of up to $10 million as well as possible criminal sanctions. In addition, the company’s officers, directors, agents and mandataries can be found personally liable.

If you possibly have Canadian subscribers to your list you’ll need to pay attention. Not sure if you have any? Check out our list segmentation tool to find out.

The main point to confirm is that you have permission from your customers to send them email. There are two types of permission:

Express Consent – if your subscribers opted-in to your list via a ReachMail sign-up form or a sign-up form on your website, you’re covered. This type of consent does not expire.

Implied consent – this is a grey area and we urge you to be cautious. Implied consent is often derived from an existing customer relationship, e.g. someone purchased a product from you but did not expressly opt-in to receive emails. In this case you can infer they gave consent when they completed their purchase. This consent DOES expire – experts agree that in the context of CASL this consent would expire after one year. So someone who bought a product one time from you in 2011 is someone who you should no longer send to.

What should you do? If you have any doubts about whether you have the appropriate permission we recommend that you run the list segmentation tool to isolate the subscribers you’re not sure about. Then create a specific campaign for those subscribers and ask them to opt-in to your email list via a confirmation link included in the message. In future – only send to those who’ve expressly signed up.

There are two other requirements and we have you covered. ReachMail includes these as part of our service so no action is required on your part.

1. Identification Information – Identify yourself and anyone you represent in the message by providing contact information which includes your business name, postal address and either a telephone number or e-mail address. This information must be accurate and valid for a minimum of 60 days after the message has been sent.

2. Unsubscribe Mechanism – A quick, easy and visible way for the user to opt-out of an organization’s electronic messaging.

Any questions? Contact us at