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Top 10 Tips from the Litmus Email Design Conference

Top 10 Tips from the Litmus Email Design Conference

The Litmus Email Design Conference took place earlier this week in Boston, bringing together some of the smartest designers, marketers, and thinkers in email. We followed along on Twitter to pick up on all the juiciest design tips. (And we caught a big announcement, too, that Litmus and Microsoft are partnering). Update and upgrade your email design with these top tips from the best in email.

Tip #1: First: Think big picture.

We’re email geeks. We love to talk about the nitty-gritty: colors, pixels, code. But sometimes we need a reminder to take a step back and remember that sending email is a privilege. Through email, we get to communicate with our very own audience, and that’s an amazing thing. We have to prioritize them first.

Good design requires a time investment—and it’s worth it to build trust and loyalty with your customers.

After all, each of our businesses is based on our customers, so our relationship with them is paramount.

Tip #2: Simplify.

We say this all the time, but it bears repeating: good email design is simple. Readers should be able to easily understand your message quickly, without effort. No clutter, extra columns, or overabundance of calls-to-action. As Eric Lepetit points out, it should be intuitive.

Part of making an email intuitive means leading a reader to your main CTA, not asking them to “choose their own adventure.”

As email designers, it’s our job to simplify and clarify.

Tip #3: Sharpen your storytelling skills.

What’s going to get readers to open an email? What’ll get them to scroll, to click? Good storytelling. When you engage readers on a universal, emotional level, that’s powerful.

Good storytelling also strengthens your relationship with readers, building brand loyalty. When readers are inspired by you, that’s big.

Tip #4: Get your templates ready.

If you missed our post on the five email templates you need to have on hand, take time to check it out. Working from templates improves your workflow and design consistency. Chad White suggests always working off a master template.

Tip #5: Go modular.

We rarely talk about any good email without mentioning modular design. As Emma Goodman points out, it’s a huge time saver. Working with blocks of content allows you to quickly copy, rearrange, and fine-tune your design without a threat to structure or clarity. It’s how we build all our emails in the BEE editor.

Tip #6: Know how to optimize CTA buttons.

Mike Nelson of Really Good Emails did some serious number-crunching and came up with the cold, hard facts about CTA button design. In terms of color, there’s a clear winner: blue is by far the most popular.

Wondering what to say with your CTA button? We have a lot of tips, and we couldn’t agree more with this one: DON’T say click here!

Know what a ghost button is? It’s one where the background color is transparent, just like the Twitter “Follow” buttons on these tweets (if you’re not already following these folks). Sometimes, these buttons blend in too much with the background, and readers miss them or don’t even know they’re a button. Use sparingly.

When it comes to shape, rounded buttons are the post popular, but the pill shape might be making a comeback.

And adding arrows to CTAs? It’s a go! They might actually improve your click through rate.

Tip #7: Don’t underline text.

It’s outdated, inefficient, and confusing to underline text that isn’t a link. If you want to underline, do it for links only.

Tip #8: Avoid trouble.

Don’t kick off your email with the “Having trouble viewing this email?” disclaimer leading viewers to the web version. Move “trouble” to the footer.

Tip #9: Pay attention to plain text.

It’s all about balance. Avoid falling into a spam folder by upping your word count, and make sure readers with image-viewing turned off will see your key messages!

Tip #10: Think ahead to the next step.

You designed a great email. You told a story, used modular design, optimized your CTAs, and balanced your text and images. Readers are clicking through—amazing! But now what? Is your site or landing page optimized for good design and messaging the same way email is? Just like Tip #1: we all need to remember the big picture.

Did you attend #LitmusLive in Boston? Let us know what you learned in the comments!

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Kelly Shetron

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