The following guidelines will help you improve your email marketing efforts this year.
- General guidelines
- Design guidelines
- Content guidelines
- Compatibility checks
General Guidelines For Email Marketing Newsletters
Great subject line
Your email subject line plays a big factor on whether the user opens or not your email.
It is important to keep your audience in mind, and test different approaches to see what they prefer.
- Keep it short: be direct, descriptive and to the point.
- Make it personal: stats have confirmed that having the user first name or last name in the email subject line increases the email open rate.
- Set the right tone for your audience: be careful with the use of emojis, punctuation symbols, and speak the language of your audience.
Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened.Source: Campaign Monitor
The email preheader is the portion of the email that appears right after the email subject on your email provider.
Preheader text allows you an average of 50-100 characters to use in conjunction with your subject line to convince someone to open your email. The preheader text generally comes from the first text found in the email template. You can hide it with some CSS, so it doesn’t appear in the email to the user, but it can still be used by email clients when displaying the snapshot of the email.
This is very useful for users, specially on mobile devices. They can glimpse what the newsletter is about before opening it.
It is therefore a cruzial part of your email marketing newsletter, as you need to make sure the message is meaningful and compelling enough to engage a subscriber.
View in browser link (optional)
This is an often overlooked feature.
It might not be as important as the previous ones, but including it in your email template will ensure that all users can see the full version of your email, regardless of what email client program they are using, or what rendering issues they may be experiencing.
This feature is a hyperlink that is often included in the preheader area and says something like “View this email in your browser”.
Company logo in the header
Having branding elements in your email newsletter such as logo, icons and colours will help your customers recognize your brand instantly.
- Use a logo with transparent background.
- Put your company name in the Alt attribute.
- Link the logo image to your website.
Footer content (contact info, unsubscribe link, etc.)
This content is located at the bottom of the email template.
It usually contains information about the sender (company logo, name, address, website, contact details, etc) and links to unsubscribe or forward the email.
The unsubscribe email is important as it gives users a way to tell you they want to stop receiving emails from you. This is usually integrated by the email platform you use to send your emails (Mailchimp or similar).
- Write a short sentence reminding users how they subscribed to your newsletter.
- Add your company information.
- Make sure the unsubscribe link is included.
- If you are sending different types of communications to your audience, include a link so users can update their email preferences.
Plain text version
This is something that most email marketing tools will automatically create for you.
It is important to ensure that a plain version is included in your campaign so your email can reach people who has set plain-text in their email preferences, or those checking emails on wearables.
It also helps to supersede the spam filters of certain email clients.
Design Guidelines For Email Marketing Newsletters
Design your email with a width of 600px
Keep your email witdh 600px as it works well in most email clients still today.
Follow your brand’s style guide
Your email newsletter is part of your brand. You need to keep your newsletters look and feel and colours inline with your brand. That’ll help recipients recognise you, which boosts trust, and therefore engagement.
Apply properly paddings and alignments
If your email looks cluttered and unorganised, your recipients may feel overwhelmed. This can lead to increased abandonment.
Leave empty/white spaces and place your copy and visuals strategically. You may consider making some text bold/italic/underline,but remember to keep it simple and opt for readability over trying to make your newsletter look fancy.
An organized and easy to consume and navigate content enhances your email’s user experience.
Review links so they are styled and short
Make sure your links look pretty and inline with your brand guidelines.
All links are short enough to not break mobile design.
Understand how your email will be implemented
CRMs and Email Marketing platforms offer great flexible solutions to marketers. But often, they come with specific constraints for developers, which means they might not be able to do certain things.
Ask your team about how the email will be implemented and the possible constraints you may have, so you make your email design compatible with the platform used to implement it.
To be on the safe side, stick to a one-column layout as that’s compatible with all devices.
Content Guidelines For Email Marketing Newsletters
Make sure your content is relevant and correct
Keep your content short and concise because people have a short attention span. Put important information to the top since it is the most viewed part. Also, accentuate important details through headings, bold typography, color, and space.
If the campaign is too extensive, a special landing page can be used to give readers more details about the campaign.
Make sure your dynamic content is populating correctly
Personalized emails can optimize your campaign performance. If you are sending highly personalized emails to your audience, make sure that you test your emails for all the possible variations and that all your variables work properly.
Most email marketing tools give you the option to preview how the content appears to different recipients in your list within their user interface. However, it can be useful to do a test send just in case.
Review and ensure that:
- There is a salutation
- The copy is correct (no typos or spelling mistakes)
- CTAs are all in place and their links are working properly
- Tracking URLs are set (if applicable)
- Your content is easy to read on mobile devices
- Mobile specific blocks have their content updated (if any)
- Images are as per the brief, properly sized and optimised
- Images are hosted on your public address
- Images have Alt tags
Compatibility Checks For Email Marketing Newsletters
Outlook specific code is in place
There are many versions of Outlook and each comes with its own limitations. Make sure that you are aware of the target list of devices that have been agreed or prioritised for the email marketing newsletter and that the corresponding fallback options have been designed and implemented.
Remove irrelevant code
If you are re-using an existing template, review it and test it across devices to ensure that you haven’t left by mistake sections that were used in previous newsletter.
Final checks and validations
Test that your email marketing newsletter looks good on real mobile devices using different email programs. For example, on iPhone you can test Gmail, Inbox, Outlook, iOS Mail. On Android you can validate your email on Gmail, Inbox, Outlook.
The Ultimate Checklist to HTML Emails 
Do you want your email campaigns to be a success?
With over ten years of experience in the email marketing industry, Agile Digital knows all the essential tricks to get your email rendering ideally across all email programs.
Focusing on personalization, segmentation, and 1-to-1 communication we make your emails more relevant and authentic.
With an Engineering degree in Business Computing and a passion for travelling, I've been fortunate enough to gain international experience working and living in the US, France, England and Spain. My skill set ranges from technical abilities (Programming, Databases, APIs, Architecture, Consulting) to management/business capabilities (Project Management, Strategy, Finance, Lean Startup).