This is your first challenge…create the brand called You.
Design, pattern and continuity help you create a face that is recognized on your website, and when your email (permission-based of course) appears in a prospect or customer’s inbox.
What you represent…your products, your ideas, your delivery…can be enhanced with graphic design. Your layout and your pictures, as well as your content tell the recipient who you are…and why they should trust you. Once you’ve delivered…consistently…they will trust you.
Keep your email message and your website message consistent. Keep your graphic design consistent to create familiarity.
Ready to write your first email newsletter or promotion?
Begin with content. Before you add graphics, or any design elements to your email newsletter or promotion, write the content. In both graphic design…and email content…less is more. Pare down your content, with appropriate links for additional information, and add use graphics to emphasize, not detract from, the message focus. Use graphics that generate attention and response. A pretty picture is just a pretty picture if it doesn’t relate directly to the topic of discussion, and it has no place in your email marketing campaign.
The general rule of thumb for designing an effective layout is a 70/30 ratio…that is 70% text and 30% graphic. There are exceptions, but this is a proven formula for most email newsletters and promotions.
Most applications support HTML based email, and it’s the preferred format most prospects and customers want to receive. So it just makes sense to put your efforts into designing your emails in HTML, and to use text based email only as an alternative for those who can’t…or don’t want to…receive HTML formatted messages.
If you’re not a Web designer, or you don’t have a Web designer on staff, use an HTML template. There are a lot of professional…even some free…templates that will give you feature-rich programs to help guide you through the process of creating an email that your prospects and customers will be able to open and read. For some great tips and starter templates, check out CampaignMonitor and MailChimp. Both have good templates, along with good information about how to make it work.
If you want to use them for mail delivery as well, consider them along with AWeber and Constant Contact. A few of the best features of each include:
- CampaignMonitor has some excellent templates and is used heavily by web designers who convert web pages into email campaigns. It is is the industry leader for email marketing standards.
- MailChimp excels in its online editor which is much easier for the less savvy HTML users. They also provide a simple postcard email template and easy A/B split testing.
- AWeber has predefined templates, although you can paste HTML, and great sales-based reporting of subscriber activity. They are known to focus on sales over design.
- ConstantContact has excellent pre-designed email templates. They would be a good choice if one of their templates complements your business and your email marketing campaign.
Overall, if you’re a business owner with little or no HTML or design skill, and don’t have anyone else to do this for you, Campaign Monitor should be at the top of your list.
Got your email newsletter or promotion ready to go?
All right. Before you start sending it out, test and then test again. Test it in primary browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer. Then expand your tests, and ensure your email opens properly in any domain names in your mailing list.
Either have it professionally heat mapped, or at least give it to someone else for the eye-path test. Ensure there are no unnecessary distractions or visual barriers, and that the reader’s eye is driven to the main focal point…generally the headline. And, that the eyepath continues to track to whatever action you’ve requested the recipient to take.
This sounds like a challenge…and it is. Remember…you’re creating a brand called You. Create something your prospects and customers value…something they can use, enjoy, and remember. That way they’ll come back…again and again.