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.

A/B Split Testing

One of the most powerful ways to increase the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns is to use A/B split testing, but what is it? A/B testing is simply testing two or more email messages head-to-head, with all else remaining equal. Keeping everything except email copy constant allows you to experiment with different marketing messages, to find which resonates the most with your customers. The elements of a campaign that should remain constant for testing purposes include:


Contact List

    • The A/B test should randomly select portions from the same contact list


Scheduled Date/Time

    • Both messages should go out at the same time


Account Settings

    • Footer and Sender Information (Name and Email) should remain the same across both emails



Using an A/B Testing tool like ReachMail’s Message Testing ensures that all of the above elements are consistent, and that the only difference lies in the actual messages.


What should you test?

First, you should analyze your current typical message or style. You can think of this as your control message, or something to test against. After getting comfortable with testing and analyzing results, move onto testing simple elements and finally, more complex ones.


Some examples of testing include:


  • Subject Line
    • Long vs. Short – Do your customers want a quick snippet of the email’s content or a descriptive overview?
    • Word Choice – Are there certain buzz words that customers click on more readily? Do commands work better than suggestions? Does personalizing the email help?


  • Link Placement
    • Location – Does having a link by your signature increase CTR or is it more effective near the header?
    • Frequency – Do more links overwhelm your customer or make them more likely to see the link?


  • Colors
    • Layout/Background – Does highlighting a word or link make a difference? Are your words easier to read with different background colors?


  • Text vs. Design HTML
    • Do more sales result when you utilize Design HTML emails? Does Design HTML make the email feel too cluttered?


  • Calls-to-Action/Offers
    • Placement – Do customers click on an offer when it’s closer to the top or bottom?
    • Size of Buttons – Are customers able to see smaller buttons?
    • Color of Buttons – Is one color more effective than others?


  • Images
    • Usage – Does including pictures of your product increase sales? Do your customers prefer landscapes shots or people in their photos?
    • Size – Are bigger images easier to see or do they overshadow your copy?



Testing Time

Once you’ve established the elements of your campaign that you want to experiment with, then it’s time to test. As our previous blog post mentions, the first step is creating each message to test (up to five different versions).


Then, select which lists will receive the message. One of the most beneficial aspects of our service is that you can send to a limited portion of your list – i.e. 10,000 contacts out of a list of 50,000. Then, you can schedule and send your tests.


We suggest waiting at least 24-48 hours to get a statistically valid response for each. You’ll be able to pick the winner and roll out that message to the remainder of the list. This way most of your subscribers will receive the “winning” version and you’ll achieve a maximum response.


The Message Testing feature that allows you to do A/B split testing is included with ReachMail, where you receive free email marketing for life.

Do you have Zombies in your email list?

Although Halloween is over you may still have the walking dead in your email list, depressing your open rates and hurting your reputation. Why? Because, according to ClickZ, ISP’s such as gmail, hotmail and Yahoo look at how engaged your list is with your email and factor that heavily in whether your email is placed in the inbox.

ReachMail’s list export tool has a feature that allows you to export and analyze unengaged email addresses. This feature is available on any list that has been sent at least 6 times since it’s creation. To use go to the dropdown menu in the Lists section and find “Export List”



Next – ReachMail can give you a preview of how exactly how many subscribers never opened or clicked your emails. To find out tick the Advanced Options “Export only records Not engaged”. You then specify how many days to look at and a query is generated showing how many were unengaged in that period.



You can then choose to export the list or re-run the query. To remove these un-engaged email addresses we recommend you upload the unengaged list and then use the “Compare and Remove” tool.