The Email Marketing Template Playbook An enormous 306.4 billion emails are sent and received around the world every single day. And this is expected to increase to 376.4 by 2025. So, it’s perhaps no surprise that the inbox is a competitive place. Brands are using increasingly sophisticated techniques and tactics to ensure they stand out from their competitors. Automation, personalisation, dynamic content, geolocation. But sometimes it’s important to take a step back and review the basics. Such as your email templates. Once you have secured an email open, the email template has a significant influence when grabbing attention, maintaining engagement, and encouraging that all-important click-through. Even though the email template is one of the most important elements of email strategy, it is sometimes overlooked. Either tweaked or changed until the brand is barely recognisable. Or only reviewed on the rare occasion when the designer has some spare time. If you’re reading this guide, we want to show you how much can be done with email templates. And help to ensure you are sending out the most engaging and useful emails to your recipients, to produce the best possible results. For email templates, better starts here. Keep it simple When creating an email template, the options for creativity can be vast. So it’s easy to get carried away. But our first piece of advice is to keep it simple. And don’t overcomplicate your template. This will help you keep the focus on what is most important. And avoid any unnecessary distractions that could negatively impact results. Focus your message Mixed messages and CTAs will only confuse your recipient. Instead, focus on the key message you are trying to convey, and replicate this in your CTA. This will ensure recipients only action what is most important. Avoid replicating the navbar It can be tempting to replicate the complex navigation bar on your website within your email. Because the more information the better, right? Not necessarily. As well as becoming a distraction from your most important CTA, a navbar will also take up valuable real estate within your email, that could be put to better use. White space is your friend We understand that not everyone is a fan of minimalism. But within emails, whitespace allows your content to ‘breathe’, stand out, and make an impact. Making it easier for the recipient to digest your email without being overwhelmed. Choose email-safe fonts Email clients will only properly display fonts that are already available on your recipients’ computers. So it’s likely that an email client won’t recognise your specific brand typeface. Therefore, ensure you are using email-safe fonts so that you have more control over the end-look of your email. Additionally, try to keep your typefaces to a minimum. Ideally a maximum of two – one for the body and one for the header. This will help maintain consistency and a clean look and feel. Keep it consistent When the creative juices are flowing, it can be tempting to trial a new image style, font, or colour scheme within emails. However, we would always recommend keeping your email templates as consistent as possible. This will help to reinforce your brand and make your emails more recognisable. Consistency across email clients Simple designs are far easier to keep consistent across different email clients. If the design becomes too complicated, you may face rendering problems. And lose control over what the recipient ends up seeing. 600px Start by ensuring that all of your emails have a consistent width. For instance, the maximum width of 600px will look best on most devices. Stay on brand Consistency is key to brand awareness. So don’t deviate from your brand guidelines where possible. By keeping your emails on-brand, they will be instantly recognisable to your audience. Be creative While simplicity and consistency are key to email templates, we don’t want to put out your creative spark. In fact, creativity is key to making your email and overall message stand out. And in an increasingly crowded inbox, this is essential. Simplicity isn’t boring Simple designs can be beautiful. We’ve discussed using white space previously, but simple design can really complement creativity and help images, photography, and copy stand out. Remember, sometimes less is more. Visual hierarchy Visual hierarchy is key to guiding your recipients’ eyes through the email and to your main point. Hierarchy can be utilised to create exciting visuals and layouts, without confusing or over-complicating your main message. Text/image ratio Whilst big, bold images can look fantastic in email, it’s important to balance the use of text and imagery. This will help to create visual flow and interest throughout your email. Subtly guiding your recipient to the main point. Different media Emails aren’t just about images. So get creative with the media you use. Consider animated GIFs, countdown timers, and thumbnail images that link to video content. Keep it short and snappy Remember, an email isn’t a smaller version of your website. The main goal of an email is to get your key message across. So stay focused, and keep your email short and snappy. Keep content to a minimum Providing quality content is essential for engagement, whether that be through email or any other channel. That being said, don’t feel that you need to cram your emails full of all your latest and greatest pieces. Instead, use content that supports your main points, and gives the recipient a reason to click your CTA and learn more. Placement Ensure that you position your most important information at the top of your email. This ensures that it is the first thing a recipient will see. And gives them a better chance of understanding your most crucial points, without becoming distracted. Review accessibility Accessibility isn’t only important for disabled recipients. It is something that should be considered and reviewed for every recipient to make their email experience as enjoyable and positive as possible. Alt Text You can begin simply by including Alt Text on all of your images. This will display if images are blocked, but can also be read out by screen-readers for visually impaired recipients. Make it make sense Review your email as if there aren’t any images included. For recipients who are using a screen-reader, a lack of images could quickly make the email feel confusing. Images can be used to enhance your message, but to support accessibility, they shouldn’t be relied on. Message placement Similarly, don’t include your main message directly within an image. Instead, utilise real text for content instead of images with text. Otherwise, you risk your message being completely lost if images are blocked or a recipient is using a screen-reader. Font size Appropriately sized fonts can make a huge difference to the readability of your email. You can also consider line heights, to help the reader to digest the information. We recommend that you use body text that is at least 14-16 px. Unsubscribe We would always recommend a clear unsubscribe link on any email, but particularly when considering accessibility. Essentially, never make it difficult for a recipient, whoever they are, to unsubscribe from your communications. Colour contrast By using adequately contrasting colours in your email, particularly within the background and copy, you will be significantly improving the readability of your communication. For instance, avoid using a white background and yellow copy, as this would be difficult to read. Don’t rely on colour alone When emphasising different elements of your email, try not to rely on colour alone. By doing so, you will be alienating your recipients who are colour blind. Dark mode Don’t forget to consider what your email will look like when viewed in dark mode. Ask yourself if your email is still legible? And are the images with transparent backgrounds still clearly visible? Optimise for mobile devices 71% of recipients read their emails on mobile apps. So mobile optimisation should no longer be an afterthought. It should be leading your email design strategy. Responsive design If you’ve spent time and effort on your email template design, you want to ensure that it looks as best as it can across all devices. To achieve this, ensure that the design is responsive, so it will render correctly across desktop, mobile, and other devices. Image optimisation Part of mobile optimisation is ensuring the images are optimised correctly. This can include resizing them appropriately, so they are not too large, but not so small that they pixelate when column width changes due to the responsive design of a template. Thumb size One element of optimisation you may not have thought of is the size of recipients’ thumbs. This is the finger mainly used to click buttons and CTAs. Therefore, ensure that all buttons and CTAs are big enough to easily be selected by thumbs, without other elements of the email being clicked accidentally. White space By now you’ve probably noticed we’re big fans of whitespace in email. And another benefit of whitespace is that it can help the clickability of a button. By including enough whitespace around buttons and links, they are immediately more clickable without the recipient accidentally touching another link. Responsive landing pages If you are putting effort into creating a responsive email, you want to ensure a similar experience on any following pages linking from the email. So, ensure that these web pages and landing pages are all responsive too. Offering the best possible experience for users on different devices. Hide unnecessary elements Emails should be treated like valuable real estate. With every image and element considered carefully. This is even more true for mobile optimised emails. Consider hiding any unnecessary or potentially busy decorative elements on your mobile template. This will help to ensure that your most important content, messages, and links are prominent when space is at a premium. Create a usable template You may have a fantastic designer who takes control of the look of your emails. But what happens if they aren’t available to make some last-minute changes? To avoid this challenge, create a template that is easy for other team members to edit too. This takes the pressure off the designer and ensures that the marketing team can work more efficiently and reactively. Include instructions To make the template even easier for non-designers or an email novice to use, include instructions and comments around different components of the email to make editing a breeze. Be consistent Be consistent with all key elements of the email so that they are easy to replicate. This is especially true for the email code. Consistent code will be easier for others to use and debug if necessary. Don’t forget to test Once you have created your perfect email template, it can be tempting to hit send and expect your engagement metrics to start skyrocketing. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. And without proper A/B testing, you’re not likely to understand what works for your recipients straight away. Make small tweaks Don’t be afraid to make slight changes to your email design to identify what works better for your customer base. This could include layout, links, content, and colour. Test one element at a time If you test too many elements of an email at once, it becomes difficult to identify what change caused the best results. Instead, be patient, and test one key element at a time. Test, test, and test again Never stop testing. Continuous testing will help you to identify any areas that you can improve moving forward. And prevents your emails from becoming boring, stale, and predictable. Do you need help giving your email templates a little pizazz? At Pure360, our all-in-one AI email and web marketing platform makes creating the perfect email template a breeze. But if you do ever need a little help and support, we also offer a Creative Services team consisting of email and design experts, to give your email that little extra something. Get in touch for a chat and to find out more.