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Image, Text and Layout Tips for Creative Email Content

Email content

Creative email content is the only way to make your email newsletter stand out. Employing creativity will make your subscribers look forward to future emails and assist in calling them to action.

At a recent Mailigen breakfast meeting, email marketing guru Tim Watson (Zettasphere and Direct Marketing Association, UK) shared 15 email content tips for how to effectively use images, text and layout to create exceptional email content.

Choose thousand-word-speaking-images

A good image can speak a thousand words – but you have to make sure that it’s the right one!

  • Favor an image of the product. While some marketers cannot decide what movie star would best fit their email content, Tim Watson suggests sticking to the basics instead. Customers would rather see an image of the promoted product than trying to understand the presence of a pop-singer in a newsletter.
  • Place an image in the top-left corner. Eye-tracking heat maps illustrate that users frequently read email content in an F-shaped pattern. Place the most important images in the top-left corner or along the left side of your newsletter.
  • Manage the movement direction. If your images include people, make sure they are looking in the direction of the call to action. The same counts for other images illustrating movements. The reader’s eyes will follow the direction of these movements, thereby stressing your call to action.
  • Make the image stand out. Don’t place an image in the email just because you feel an image should be included. If you do use an image, use it at its maximum in order to achieve engagement. Replace “everybody has seen them” pictures with irregular shapes, colors that stand out and other unexpected elements.
  • Tell the story without images. It’s very likely that your subscribers receive emails with blocked images. Make sure that your email still provides all the necessary information (especially the call to action) even with blocked images.

Create motivating text for email content

Your email is not only about images. Content marketing is crucial when it comes to building relationships with your customers.

  • Don’t forget about a pre-header. Tim Watson states that the pre-header is very often unfairly underestimated by marketers. Use it as an addition to the subject line, as it shows up next to the subject line before the email has even been opened. Don’t waste this space with phrases like “If your email doesn’t display correctly”, etc.
  • Write dark on light. If black text on a white background seems boring to you, there are many variations for using dark colors on light backgrounds. Avoid the opposite: white on black or similar “difficult to read” combinations.
  • Draw attention with an introduction. The middle of your email will be the least read part of the email. In content marketing, focus on an introduction that draws the attention and a motivating conclusion. The first two sentences of the email and the first two words of every paragraph are those that encourage (or don’t) recipients to read your email further and engage with its content.
  • Keep the email text simple. Your email may be one of hundreds in the inbox of your customers. Pick the simplest and the most relevant content for your email marketing campaign. Your customer will not get excited about the numerous colors and fonts you have squeezed into your email. As Tim Watson states, it’s better to create valuable email content than to try and sell a rainbow.
  • Don’t exaggerate using social media buttons. Social sharing buttons do not work as you might expect them to. Tim’s studies show that customers have almost zero interest in sharing email newsletters. Leave those buttons for your web page and landing page. Or, if you want to include them in your emails, create special email campaigns with a call to action for social sharing.

Carefully consider your email layout

What about an effective email layout? In order to create exceptional email content, you need a specific plan for email optimization elements.

  • Allow for your email to be scanned. Plan your layout in a way that will enable subscribers to easily scan your email according to headings, pictures, bullets, calls to action and other important elements.
  • Draw the attention. In email marketing, there is a fierce battle for the attention of subscribers. An eye-catching introduction with a creative image, question or even an oddly-worded phrase will help you win this battle.
  • Convince your customer. After you have gained the customer’s attention, make sure they understand why it is important to engage. Highlight benefits using bullets and short explanations.
  • Click to close. Include a call to action at the end of your email campaign. Email is only the first step, so don’t try to include everything in the email. The main goal of your email is a click, rather than a sale. Guide recipients to a landing page for achieving a sale.
  • Include more than one product. There may be several products you wish to promote. In such a case, you can divide your email layout into smaller parts. The rules remain the same: captivating introduction, convincing body and action-motivated conclusion.

Let your email content bring results

Email is much more than simply a communication channel. It creates conversation between you and your customer. By applying creative email content, your campaign will be able to better reach its target audience and result in positive engagement. Follow the above email content tips regarding image, text and layout to create exceptional email content and gain the best from your email marketing campaigns. For more tips by Tim Watson, read our interview with the email guru.

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