Lesson 7 | Best practice for designing your emails

This lesson looks at some of the best practices for creating emails.

HubSpot Video


In this lesson, we are going to look at the ways you should structure and design your email for maximum affect. 


1. Concise. Emails are not the place to ramble. Since emails can transmit virtually unlimited amounts of information, it's easy to go on tangents or try to include every bit of information you can in one single email. This is usually not the best approach. Instead, it's better to focus on making your emails as concise as possible; in other words, it's better to put as much information into as few words as possible.

Make your email reflective of the offer. If you are offering a blog subscription, then keep it very short, but if you are aiming to really sell in your product, go for a longer form email. We would only ever suggest 400 words maximum.


2. Intention-focused. Speaking of goals, your email should have one. If your email doesn't have a central intention, such as "to summarise the meeting and recap next steps," you shouldn't be sending one. Everything in your email needs to feed that central intention, and that central intention should be clear to everyone reading it.

In order to make your central intention evident, you need an effective, direct subject line. Writing one can be difficult, especially for long emails that need to cover a lot of ground, but without an immediate and clear subject line, your email could be overlooked or hard to find after a certain amount of time passes. Include information such as the client, the topic, or the due date (for a specific action item). Never use a subject line to write body copy.


3. Summarising. Your email, even if it’s cold, should have some sort of summary to start things off, unless it's a response to an email thread already in progress. In this summary, you should give context and background information before you delve into the matter at hand.


4. Well-organised. Your email needs to be organised logically. There is no single format that applies to every email, but every email needs to be well thought-out. Start your email by addressing your audience and move into a subject. 


5. Visually scannable. This is especially important, with attention spans at all-time lows and inbox counts reaching all-time highs. Even if your intended audience needs to read your email in full the first time around, your email should be visually "scannable" for repeat reads. Don't make your paragraphs too long (creating the dreaded wall-of-text), and try to make certain sections of content pop out with different formatting. For example, bullet points are an extremely effective way to organise and present a dedicated list, because they can be read quickly and easily. They stand out from the rest of the email and can be tackled one at a time.


6. Polite and tone-appropriate. Emails do have one potential drawback. Because they are written, and not expressed to the persona's face, this means that vocal tones and body language gestures are missed. This can lead to misinterpretation. In email, you have to be extra careful to make sure your words are taken correctly and appropriately by the receiving party.


7. Clear on action. The best emails have a clear action plan. If there isn't any action required by any of your readers, you probably didn't need to send an email in the first place. Especially in longer emails, it's easy for action items to get lost. Some email writers might casually mention them, buried in a sentence in the middle of the body, while others wouldn't call them out at all, assuming the action items are implied.


Why is maintaining the image-text ratio in emails important?


‘Image only’ emails go into SPAM

Spam filters block image-only emails. Spammers can hide secret links or content in the mail by sending image-heavy emails so that their content is not recognised and read by the spam filters. And so, any email with no healthy balance of text and images is sure to get rejected by the spam filters.


Images may be ‘turned off’ by viewers

Some users and email clients generally keep the images turned off at their end for security reasons. If the image is blocked, the email will appear to be either incomplete or completely blank. Such emails are likely to be ignored, marked as spam and even unsubscribed.


Images may take more time to load

When there are more images and less text in an email, the images may take more time to load depending on the browser and internet connection of the user, and hence may not convey the entire message of the email. Emails with images that take more time to load have lesser click-through rates and conversion rates.


How to make sure your email gets delivered?


Email marketers need to bear in mind the following points while planning an email campaign:

  • 80% of the email should be text.
  • Images should cover only 20% of the email.
  • The images should compulsorily have alternate text (alt tags).
  • Avoid the concept of ‘one image will serve the purpose' of the email. 
  • Test your email well and see how it appears for different clients.