With all the media heavyweights about these days who claim to owe their success to a strong social networking presence, it may be tempting to put all your energy into chasing after Likes and Retweets. However, there is still one form of direct marketing that – although often overlooked – still gets results: Email.
A well designed email newsletter can be the element that turns your casual followers into a solid fan base. Unfortunately the reputation of this form of marketing has been somewhat tarnished by years of spam, terrible design, and too-frequent (or not-frequent-enough) inbox clutter that only serves to annoy. Despite this, all is not lost. With a little forward-thinking and careful design you can produce emails that are an asset to your blog.
(Image Credit: bloomwebdesign)
The first and most important challenge when designing an email is to make sure that it opens and renders for everyone who wants to read it. It seems obvious, but the lack of standardization between email clients (and – less likely these days but still worth bearing in mind – browsers) is an oft-encountered stumbling block that can easily be avoided. The variation in email client rendering engines means you may never be able to design an email that will display perfectly and identically across all clients, but it still needs to be readable. You may have created or found the perfect design, but if your newly launched newsletter is unreadable for half of your subscribers they may not stick around for much longer. Because of this, the easiest way to embark upon email design is to keep it as simple as possible. Whether you design it yourself or use a template, this means taking a step back to use HTML email. It is also worth noting that a significant number of people still prefer
plain text emails, so always offer a link to a plain text version.
Images present another problem when designing email. Most email clients do not show images in email by default. Do a little research to find out what the default image display settings are on the most popular email clients and work with that in mind. Do not put important content in images, or make the entire email an image. The absolute best practice is to also provide a plain text link to a web version of the email.
The best designed email in the world will have no impact on your readers if the content is poor. Keep it relevant; if you have asked people to sign up to your email newsletter with the promise of more original content, do not send them adverts. If your newsletter offers readers a weekly round-up of highlights, do not send them adverts. Sending out mailshots too frequently may provoke people to unsubscribe or banish you to the spam folder, and never sending anything may give the impression that you have simply asked people to hand over their email addresses for nothing in return. Create a schedule for your newsletters and stick to it.
Remember: your subscribers have signed up because they are already interested in the content you are producing. Email is an effective way of strengthening your online identity and directly engaging readers.
Julian D is a contract writer for Key Insurance Quotes.com with a passion for design.