August Newsletter

Optimal Email Design – how do you make sure your email is actually readable and gets maximum deliverability?

Designer Dan Nielsen shares these design tips to get your email to the inbox.
Well designed email messages get delivered by ISPs at a significantly higher rate than poorly designed “spammy” emails. Why? ISPs receive a high rate of complaints about emails that appear to be spam; they therefore tend to put those emails which look like spam into the junk folder rather than deliver them. Here are three simple rules to follow:

1. Do not make your email one big image. There are several reasons why. First, many email clients cannot read images (i.e. blackberry devices), ISPs also deliver email with images turned off so your recipient will see a blank email. ISPs noticed that single image emails are often from spammers so they filter them at a high rate.

2. Make sure to include plenty of text. Your email recipients should be able to read and act upon your email even with all images turned off. Furthermore, make sure you have the “alt” element defined in the image source tag for each image. The “alt” element is a text description of what the image is (i.e. “company logo”) See our newsletter blog entry for how to define “alt” elements in ReachMail.

3. Ensure your font sizes are normal. Large font sizes are akin to yelling in the email world and that prompts complaints to ISPs, which then scrutinize carefully email messages with extra large fonts. Make sure to keep your fonts below 14 pixels. If you want to use a font size above 14 pixels use heading tags. Heading tags are semantically accurate and will not trigger filters.

Here are two examples of emails. The first one violates all three of the above rules. The second one corrects those violations.

Remedy – the next time you receive an email from your designer try looking at the email with the images off; you should be able to understand and respond to the email. Make sure that each image tag has the “alt” element defined. If you don’t see a description of the image then they didn’t fill out the alt tag. This will also make a dramatic difference in response considering the growth in mobile devices as primary email clients.

Getting the Most from ReachMail – renaming links for easy reporting

Sometimes when working with tracked links you find that the URL is extremely long or sometimes just plain indecipherable. Not to worry, ReachMail provides you with a simple way to rename links for easy reporting. This feature doesn’t change the display text of the link, or the destination, it just changes the link’s name in the mailing reports to a more readable phrase.

This feature is found on the link tracking page when editing a mailing (step 3). Just type the name you would like displayed in the reports in the link identifier field. See the screen-shot below.

In the following screen-shot of the reports section note that links have been identified by the names given in link tracking screen-shot.

Email Deliverability Tip
Words and Phrases to avoid for maximum deliverability

Designing email to generate a response can sometimes lead marketers to write “spammy” copy. Certain words or phrases are automatically suspicious to subscribers and should be avoided. Anne Mitchell, CEO of ISIPP & Surety Email Accreditation says to avoid deliverability problems avoid these words or phrases.

• Secrets
• Learn the Secret
• Money-Back Guarantee
• Click Here
• Response Required
• Risk Free
• Be Amazed
• Here is your new account information

In addition:
Using the name of the recipient in the subject
• Offers of a full refund
• Claims of compliance with anti-spam laws
• Instructions on how to stop receiving your offers

In addition, I’ve noticed the following words get caught in the spam filters too

• Abuse
• Absolutely
• Mailings
• Methods
• Offers
• spam

Beyond that she says to proof your copy with a critical eye of a consumer. Take your marketer hat off and say to yourself; if you’re a consumer would you hit the “This is spam” button?

Boost Response with an Updated Template

Are your customers taking your email for granted? Consider having your designer or ReachMail revise and update your template. Your goal should be to get your customers to notice you while keeping branding consistent. A well designed template can increase deliverability as well as enhance the effectiveness of your message. Here ReachMail designer Dan Nielsen shares the four essential “musts” any new design must have plus examples of his latest works

Brand Identity: Echo your current design in your emails. Customers look for familiar keystones, so don’t change around your logo or try out a new color scheme when putting together your emails. You customers are probably used to visiting your website so try an replicate that as much as possible. If you can’t replicate your website, make sure that you have your familiar logo in a prominent place in the email.

Simplicity: Remember that email is still primarily a tool for communication. It cannot be as interactive as your website. Consider what point you’re trying to get across and make that the focus of the email. Complicated emails can muddy your message and will result in a lower rate of engagement from your customers. For example, if you have a sale offer or a major news release, that should be front-and-center in your email. Put your periphery information below or to the right of your focus so that customers aren’t immediately distracted by it.

Organization: Thoughtfully organized emails will enhance how valuable customers judge your emails to be. Getting your main point across and carefully organizing your periphery content will help increase your click-through rate.

Room to grow: Don’t use a design that limits you to one type or style of email. In the future you may want to add more content, change content positioning, or add new elements. Two or three designs in a common theme can help you do that.

Custom templates are available from ReachMail. Pricing for a standard template is $199. For further details please contact John Murphy at or 630-324-7163.