Size Matters…in Email Marketing

Despite all the hoopla, in most cases, size really isn’t that big of a deal.  Take me, for instance.  I’m not a big person.  I have to use a ladder or chair to get into the top shelves.  Size hasn’t kept me from being successful.   It simply has provided the opportunity for creative challenge.

Oh, I know…enough about me. That’s not what all the TV and Internet ads are talking about, anyway, but the fact is, in a lot of life, size isn’t  that important. 

In email marketing, however, size really does matter.  Have you ever done a “readability” survey on your email newsletters and service or product information?  If not, you might consider it. After all,  readability is a big part of the experience you’re creating.

There are three formats that are generally used in email marketing.  They are plain text, HTML, and PDF.  All of them can be used successfully to deliver your message.  HTML is currently “the preferred provider.”  With proper forethought and tools,  they all work.  The main thing with all of them is to make sure once you have your layout done, and your message crafted, that it gets tested…normally by your ESP (email service provider)…for deliverability across all ISP’s (internet service provider). 

Look at it from your email recipient’s side.  Email software can allow emails to be displayed like a webpage, if you’re using HTML, or the software can be set to display text only.  This is a user choice, so before you decide whether to send a plain text or HTML message, ask your user which format they want.  Since PDF is an attachment, your recipient will have to open the attachment to see it…assuming they have the appropriate software.  Knowing reader preference for delivery is part of readability…and understanding that “one size does not fit all.”

Choose a font type and size, and use it consistently.  Not only is it important for readability, it will help identify your brand.  Changing font type and size in every email can create confusion and frustration.

Regardless of whether you’re sending your message in plain text, HTML, or PDF, design your message for readability across formats.  Begin by determining which fonts, and which sizes of fonts are most readable and desirable to your audience.  For font type, most readers prefer sans serif fonts over serif fonts. Verdana 10 pt is the most widely preferred, and most visible  font for readability in body text.  At 12 pt., the preference shifts to Aerial.  These fonts are installed on the majority of computer operating systems, making it far more likely your message will be read and displayed by the computer the same way it was written.

When your email is first opened, the headline needs to grab the reader’s attention.  The headline content, of course, must be riveting.  To draw the eye, however, it should also be, in some way, striking.  If you want to make a headline stand out, using a larger print size can work…for a very short headline.  Bolding your headline…giving it extra weight…will generally accomplish the same thing…and take up less space in what you want to be a “compact” message.

Yes, the headline…and other parts of your email…can be in color.  Use color sparingly, however, so that it doesn’t overwhelm your message…and your reader.

Brevity.  I know you’ve heard it before, but email readers want…and expect…your messages to be concise and to the point.  Most readers don’t want anything that takes up too much space on the page. Using too large a print…anything over 12 pt can also be overwhelming. 

Using too small a font size, or too little weight (creating a gray tone) makes the email hard to read, especially for that large group of readership out there who don’t want to reach for their eyeglasses to read the “fine print.” 

Bottom line…or at the end of the day…whichever phrase has more meaning for you…in email marketing, size really does matter. 

Not too big, not too small, but just right…for readability.

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