10 (possibly wrong and likely soon to be outdated) tips for email.

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So I spent the past three weeks eating Icelandic fish, drinking Nordic beer and not going to bed at a sensible hour because the sun was still up. Initially I did entertain thoughts of updating this blog while on holiday but in the end… nah.

So here I am back at my desk and wireframing emails for one of my brands. It’s a pretty high spec brand so I went to check if there’s any highlighted best practice for luxury brand emails floating around out there on Google using the time honoured method of typing in keywords and hoping for solutions.

And I find SERPS of those solutions but most of them are old. In the hour I spent searching around for mobile optimised email tips, best practice file sizes, pixel widths and newsletter guidance I was mostly returned articles and advice from 2012 and earlier. And I’m not complaining, really I’m not, but in all of the advances in technology and the growing importance of tablets, should there not be more recent advice out there for the digital marketer?

So here we are, here is my possibly soon to change but definitely up to this moment accurate advice on designing emails in this day and age of tablets, smartphones and gmail:

1. Do the mobile layout first. Get your stakeholders to provide a list of everything that absolutely definitely has to be on the mobile version of the email and wireframe that sucker out.

2. Don’t add more than 10% more content to the desktop version. Yes there can be more images and you can move the ads up the run alongside the content, but don’t add much more actual stuff. If it’s not important enough to go on the mobile version, it’s not important enough to be on the email at all.

3. Wireframe out more than one desktop layout then the powers that be can choose the different bits they like from each to make the ultimate desktop layout. (Both of these desktop layouts need to align to your mobile layout – only 10% more content, remember?)

4. Make the designers aware of pixels sizes. Designers are wonderful fragile beasts who will always do what looks best, but sadly that is not always what works best. Design all your emails at 600 pix wide and make sure they know what size the ads are likely to be.

5. Don’t be afraid of white space. Nothing will ever line up as neatly as it did on that pdf design. Accept this and live with it. But if there’s too much white space, change the design.

6. Split test it. Split test everything. Should the header be this deep or that deep? Should the main colour be blue or purple? Don’t be afraid to test it out. Split testing is your friend.

7. Accept that it might not always work as it should and include links to the mobile and desktop versions at the top of your email. Gmail is particularly annoying on this front – some things just don’t work.

8. We no longer live in the 90s or even the 00s – the amount of people who are seeing your email without images in is a minority, but that’s still no reason not to have good alt text and for the sake of the giant spaghetti monster don’t make your entire email an image. I’ll glare at you and so will the spam filters.

9. Use the Adestra keyword tool to see if using “win” or “wins” in your subject line is better for your audience. You may be surprised at the result.

10. Don’t spam. Don’t send two emails a day when someone signs up for a daily email. Don’t inundate people about sales offers or awards tickets just because they want a bit of daily news. Just don’t.

So there we are, 10 tips for email.  And with the exception of #10 I fully expect them all to be outdated within the year.

Just don’t spam people. Don’t do that. That makes us all look bad.

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