Top 10 Email Design Tips from EEC 2016

Last week, top email marketers and strategists came together in New Orleans for the Email Evolution Conference 2016 (EEC2016). Through panel events, breakout sessions, and workshops, email marketers gathered a great deal of advice and insight from both peers and industry leaders and learned about tech and recent trends for 2016. Missed it? Don’t worry—we rounded up the top email design tips from the conference, straight from the participants themselves.

Tip #1: Provide value after opt-in

Make new subscribers glad they signed up: give them a coupon or free gift as a thank you. You can also provide an opportunity for readers to add data about themselves to tailor their experience in future messages.

Welcome emails are some of the highest performing messages (with an average 50% open rate!), so capitalize on the opportunity and make a great first impression. Brush up on your welcome email with our 10 Tips for Great Welcome Email Design—and make sure you’ve optimized your subscription opt-in email to increase completed signups.

Tip #2: Skip the all-image email

It’s not new news that image-only emails are problematic. They end up in spam folders…

And aren’t seen by subscribers with image-viewing turned off:

Avoid the pitfalls of the image-only email by instead designing a message with a balanced text-to-image ratio. Use vibrant HTML background colors and well-styled email-safe fonts to create an email that makes it into inboxes and still looks great. And make sure all images have accurate, well-styled ALT text so you don’t lose parts of your message with images off.

Tip #3: Don’t make it hard to unsubscribe

If you’re in Canada or send to Canadian residents, you need to comply with Canada Anti-Spam Law (CASL). In the States, it’s the CAN-SPAM law. One of the most important requirements of both is to make it clear and simple for readers to unsubscribe.

Best practice is to include an unsubscribe or opt-out link at the top of your message or in the footer. Including it isn’t just the law; it builds trust, loyalty, and respect with readers.

Tip #4: Tease content in email

The content in your email should be an appetizer before the main meal. Drive subscribers to your blog (and make your email short, sweet, and mobile-friendly) by teasing a piece of your content that encourages readers to tap to read more on your (also mobile-optimized!) blog.

Not sure you have content? Laura Atkins shares some ideas:

Tip #5: Add animation

Because GIFs are image files (like PNGs and JPEGs), they’re super simple to use in email. And they’re a powerful tool for email marketers, adding a sense of levity, delight, and playfulness that’s eye-catching and entertaining.

Animating a small portion is a great tip; large GIF files can be slow to download or eat up mobile data plans. Optimize your use of animated GIFs in emails with these top 4 tips.

Tip #6: Test your responsive design

With up to 70% of email opens now occurring on mobile, mobile-optimized design is a must. But to make sure your email looks great across email clients, test first.

An email that’s too HTML-heavy could get clipped, whereas one that’s too image-heavy may not be viewable to readers with image-viewing disabled, or may be slow to load on mobile.

Tip #7: Try live content

Like animated GIFs, live content is dynamic and intriguing, and there are plenty of content options to incorporate:

Countdown timers can be particularly effective at creating urgency. They’re also easy and free to make online. Check out our recent tutorial for a step-by-step how-to!

Tip #8: Lose the social media buttons

In email, social media buttons are secondary calls to action, often landing in an email’s footer, all the way at the bottom. The main focus of your email is to get readers to take action on your primary CTA, like signing up for your upcoming webinar, for instance. The key focus isn’t for a reader to follow you on Facebook, so it’s a best practice to prevent social icons from being a distraction. But what if you don’t need them at all?

Find out if readers are tapping those social icons or not by using click tracking. This is particularly important if you’ve been including social buttons at the top of your email in a navigation menu that needs to be scaled down.

Tip #9: Test font styles and colors

Font styles and colors can evoke strong reactions in readers. Ecommerce brands need to be particularly attuned to how subscribers interpret content. Check out Jessica Best’s tweet on using a small font for listing an item’s price, and being wary of the color:

The best way to get answers is to test different styles with your audience and collect data. Make sure to optimize text formatting, especially in longer messages, and try these creative uses of color to see how readers engage.

Tip #10: Prioritize email quality over quantity

Want to know what’ll cost you subscribers more than anything else? Laura Atkins doesn’t sugarcoat it:

Segment subscriber lists to send tailored, relevant content to readers.

It’s all about creating trust and respect with your readership.

Did you attend? Let us know your takeaway in the comments!

If you were at EEC 2016, too, let us know your key takeaways in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

Also, if you’re interested in reading more tweets you can follow @theeec, check out the #EEC16 hashtag and view the full collection on Eventifier:



Design Beautiful Emails in the BEE Editor

Give it a try! Design stunning, fully responsive emails in our easy-to-use, drag-n-drop BEE editor. No HTML or CSS coding knowledge required. What more? It's free and online!

Take me to the BEE email editor