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Email Design Best Practices to Increase Engagement

June 13, 2019
3 Min Read
Email Design Best Practices to Increase Engagement

eCommerce email marketing remains one of the most effective tools in digital marketing — it’s fast, measurable and convenient. However if you’re familiar with email design, you likely know that every email client renders content differently. Although some email clients are up-to-date with the latest technology, many are still years behind conventional website design best practices.

As inboxes become more crowded and attention spans decrease, businesses face several marketing challenges. You want to increase your open and click-through rates, but how?

A well-designed email is crucial to driving conversions. For that reason, sticking to these best practices will ensure your emails render quickly and correctly across all platforms and devices.

Email Design Best Practices

  • Keep It at 600 Pixels
  • Simple is Always Better
  • Establish a Visual Hierarchy
  • Stick with System Fonts
  • Use Consistent Branding
  • Personalize Where Possible
  • Test and Improve

1. Keep It at 600 Pixels

The ideal email width is 600 pixels. This recommendation has stood the test of time because many browser-based email clients require additional interface space and don't allow for a full-screen viewing experience.

We strongly recommend creating vertical layouts instead of horizontal. Although horizontal designs can add visual interest, these layouts typically experience formatting issues when they respond to mobile device sizes.

Overall, remember that your emails will likely be opened in different clients and devices. If you design from a mobile-first perspective, you can proactively avoid formatting issues that may otherwise present themselves.

2. Simple is Always Better

With average adult’s attention span down to just 8 seconds, it’s important to make your emails easy to read and attention grabbing. 

Including imagery or video is a great way to condense content and convey your message visually. It’s also important to give content room to breathe to improve readability. Things like bullet points, short paragraphs and white space combined will achieve this.

Overall, your emails should be easy to read and attention grabbing. The best way to accomplish this is to focus on one idea and call to action at a time.

3. Establish a Visual Hierarchy

Effective email design guides users to complete a desired action. As graphic designers, our job is to create a system that facilitates this experience. 

To accomplish this goal, we recommend establishing a visual hierarchy to communicate what areas of your email are the most important. We often use the "squint test" as a way to quickly evaluate what parts of a design carry visual weight.

Although every email will vary, we've found a fairly repeatable model:

  • Logo
  • Compelling Image
  • Strong Headline
  • Call to Action
  • Supporting Text
  • Additional Call to Action

Keep in mind that every email's purpose and audience will be different. We encourage you to experiment with a hierarchy that works for your specific needs.

However, remember that your users should be able to quickly scan your content and understand what elements are the most important. Ultimately, this will help them navigate to your call to action faster and help them convert.

4. Stick with System Fonts

Although we love the customization and flexibility that web fonts offer, they are not widely supported in email. As a result, using them in emails can result in unexpected fallbacks and disappointing appearance on less progressive email clients.

We recommend sticking with web-safe fonts like Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, Times New Roman and Georgia. This will ensure that the look of your email remains consistent across all email clients and devices.

Although you likely won't be able to find something that's an exact match to your current branding, we encourage you to find a font that is similar. Once you choose an email font, remain consistent and add these styles to your brand guidelines to keep your team informed. 

5. Use Consistent Branding

When designing your emails, keep your color palette, logo and design elements consistent  with your website. This will help users understand exactly who the email is coming from as soon as they open it.

The banner space of your email is a great opportunity to get creative with typography, as it is embedded in the image. Consider using a branded font to draw the reader in and then used standard system fonts in the body of the email to provide the details. 

6. Personalize Where Possible

In many ways, the email experience begins before users even open your message. As a result, it's incredibly important to consider subject lines, sending address and preview text.

Although subject lines and preview text is often overlooked, these elements can significantly influence your open rates and engagement. Try including a personalization token for your recipient’s name in the subject line to give your email a personalized touch. 

7. Test & Improve

With eCommerce A/B testing, you can test various designs against each other to see what button, colors, or font sizes perform best. Collecting this data will allow you to target your audience in the most effective way possible moving forward.

The goal of email marketing is to engage and delight your customers with interesting content that is tailored specifically to them. The more data you are able to collect about your customers, the more you able to optimize the design for a better, more personalized experience. At its core, effective eCommerce email design best practices help marketers accomplish this.

Interested in learning more about email marketing and design? Contact Groove today! We’re happy to get you in touch with our digital marketing experts.

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About the author
Art Director

Danielle is a Digital Designer at Groove Commerce.

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