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Compatibility: Email Design and Email Service Providers

Compatibility: Email Design and Email Service Providers

The Email Service Provider (ESP) arena is booming, with more than $10 billion in deals within the industry and a host of new capabilities that allow today’s ESPs to do a lot more than send emails. For email marketers, ESPs have a number of beneficial features that can help streamline your email marketing process, helping you create more impact in less time. Let’s take a look at some must-know tips for email design when using an ESP.

ESPs have a number of beneficial features that can help streamline your email marketing process, helping you create more impact in less time. Click To Tweet

What is an ESP?

ESPs, or email service providers, are platforms that allow you to send bulk emails. These tools often include other features, too, such as the ability to track your engagement or set up trigger campaigns. Mailchimp, Constant Contact and Active Campaign are all examples of ESPs. Benefits of ESPs include:

  • Batch sending
  • Spam regulations compliance
  • Building subscriber lists
  • Segmenting subscriber lists
  • Sending automated trigger email campaigns
  • Whitelisting services
  • Monitoring analytics and engagement
  • A/B testing

Most ESPs are also capable of integrating with other platforms. BEE Pro connects with all of the most popular ESPs — including those that use legacy HTML (like Outlook). With BEE’s ESP connector option, you’re able to design your emails using the BEE Pro editor and then seamlessly transfer the final design over to your ESP. Click here for a full list of the ESPs that integrate with BEE.

Email design for ESP

Before you can start sending out batch emails using your favorite ESP, you need to have your marketing emails (or email newsletters!) ready to go. Email design for ESP is about more than making your messages look pretty: The design decisions you make can help inbox filters recognize that the messages you’re sending aren’t spam, and the look of your email campaigns can build and reinforce the brand awareness you need to create conversions. 

Select on-brand fonts

Choose fonts to use in your email that are on-brand and easy to read. If your email is off-brand, it has a higher likelihood of being marked as spam. Intentionally branding your emails improves deliverability and builds trust with your email list. That’s why it’s essential that every design choice is made with your branding in mind. When consumers feel like they truly know your brand, it helps to build trust and, eventually, conversions. Staying consistent with your fonts is one of the most effective ways to do this.

We recommend selecting one font to use for headings and another to use for body text. Tools like Fontjoy or Fontpair can help you find fonts that look good together. Check out the easy-to-read font in this newsletter from Elysium Health:

Subject line: Ending soon: Your best offer of the year!

email design for ESP

Picking the perfect font won’t do you any good if your subscribers can’t see it on their devices. That’s why It’s also a good idea to use web safe fonts — default fonts installed on virtually every device. Web safe fonts include:

  • Arial
  • Courier
  • Georgia
  • Times New Roman
  • Verdana

By using these web safe fonts, you can make certain that all of your subscribers will be able to read your text.  

The best email design, directly in your inbox.

Choose the best layout

Your email should be as easy as possible for people to navigate and read. The structure of your message will depend on what type of email you’re sending. A marketing email with product photos may call for a different layout than an email newsletter sharing recent blog posts. Try choosing from these popular email layouts for your next message:

Inverted pyramid

An inverted pyramid email layout looks like an upside-down triangle. It does three things: First, it grabs your reader’s attention with a bold header. Second, it builds the anticipation using supporting copy or other design elements. And finally, it narrows in on the CTA.

Template: World Meditation Day by Nore Potera 

Zig zag

The zig zag email layout is a good choice for text-heavy messages. Since we naturally skim in a zig-zag pattern, this email structure helps readers take it all in. See how the bottom half of this apology email creates a Z? Place your finger on the “Best exercises for your brain” text and trace it out:

Template: Sorry for the empty email! by Navid Nosrati

One column

A simple single-column email is easy to design and equally as easy to read. We love this example from BITE Beauty that utilizes user-generated content to show off various products one at a time.

Subject line: Vibrant lips never looked so good ? ? ? 

one column email design

Create an attractive header

Your email header helps people get oriented before they read the rest of your email. Use this space strategically to set the tone for your brand. In this email newsletter from The Afro Hair & Skin Co, the header includes the brand’s logo and shares an additional piece of information as well: The products are handmade in England.

Subject line: New goodies just in time for your spring glow-up.

email header example

If relevant, your header can also include a navigation menu to help readers navigate the email:

Template: Only Love Can Conquer Hate by Jen Schmaltz 

Add powerful visual content 

Your visual content — photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations — will help define the look of your email. Custom product photographs, whether self-created or user-generated, are a great way to showcase what you have to offer. Stock images can boost impact too, as long as the pictures you select are in line with your overall branding and the message and tone of that particular email.

GIFs are a good way to increase email engagement. In some cases, they can actually increase email conversion rates by 103%! This creative email from Zales uses a GIF of a relevant product to create a sense of urgency. Try incorporating GIF’s into your email design for ESP.

Subject line: This is for you night owls

gif of a clock

Videos increase engagement, too. However, many email clients don’t support videos embedded in email — so you’ll want to add the video thumbnail to your email and link it to the actual video on YouTube or another platform. This email template includes a CTA to visit your website and view a video.

Template: Adapting to the new normal by Jesus Albusac

Take things one step further and design a creative email where the visuals match with the theme of the message. That might look like a “handwritten” note for an event invitation email, or something similar to this Oshkosh marketing email that’s reminiscent of a scrapbook page.

Subject line: It’s a $14 shorts kind of Sunday!

email design for ESP example

Pick a complementary color scheme

Your color scheme for your email needs to be on-brand and eye-catching while still ensuring the email is easy to read. Plan your color scheme by finding complementary colors using a tool like Coolors. We recommend using a pale background color so your text stands out and then choosing a couple of accent colors that line up with your branding and give the email a pop of, well, color. For example, the lush green tones in this email from Rent the Runway reflect the shades of green in the main product photo at the top.

Subject line: Introducing: The summer preview

colorful email example

Design a strong CTA

It’s not an understatement to say your CTA, or call to action, is the most important part of your email. The rest of your email should be strategically designed to lead directly to the CTA, whether it’s urging your readers to visit your website, make a purchase or do something else. 

There are three primary elements of a strong CTA: design, placement and copy. To design your CTA button, select a shape and size and use a contrasting color with empty space around it to help it stand out (like this “Shop New Arrivals” example from alice + olivia).

Subject line: New summer arrivals

email cta

CTA placement is important, too. Including your main CTA above the fold (early in the email) gives readers a direct way to get what they’re looking for. Another CTA near the end of the message can grab subscribers who need a little more convincing first. In some cases you may need two CTA buttons — for example, one link to shop men’s clothes and another link to shop women’s.

Finally, don’t forget about the copy! Use descriptive language that spells out the benefit(s) readers will get by tapping or clicking on that button. Try these examples on for size:

  • Learn how
  • Get 30% off
  • Shop dresses

Include a well-designed footer

Your email footer needs to include a visible unsubscribe link and your company information to comply with privacy regulations like the GDPR. This is also a good place to add your social media links. And you can strategically use that space to promote something, too — like this Moda Operandi example that includes links to the company’s rewards program and app.

Subject line: Oseree has a new ‘90s inspired bikini — and we’re obsessed 

email footer

Wrap-up: Email design for ESP compatibility

Once your customer clicks on your CTA, where will they go? BEE can help you answer this age-old question with our landing page designer — which allows you to convert your email design into a campaign-specific landing page for your website. With tools like BEE Pro and your email service provider of choice, the process of designing marketing emails can be both simple and enjoyable!

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