For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

Ask Us Anything: Email Design

A Live Q&A with Emma's Design Services Experts




Having a great-looking, mobile-responsive design can be the ultimate deciding factor in whether an email gets noticed by your subscribers or ends up in the trash bin. From template creation to coding to strategy, Emma provides a host of design services that will give your campaigns just the extra oomph they need to win in the inbox.

Join Logan Baird (Design Services Lead), Emma Mathews (Director of Services), and Rachel Rogers (Onboarding Lead) on August 24th at 1 p.m. CT as they walk you through the latest trends in email creation, share real customer examples, and field your burning questions about all things email design!

Jamie: Hello, everybody. Thank you so much for joining us today for our presentation, ask us anything about email design, a live Q&A with Emma’s design services experts. A little housekeeping before we get started. We will, of course, send a version of today’s webinar out both the recording and the slides to everyone that registered today. So if you have to hop off or you just wanna share this with a friend, we got you covered. We will send that to the email address that you registered with. Also, this is a Q&A. So when you did register, you had the opportunity to ask some questions. We’ve already got a ton of amazing questions so those will be featured, of course. But if you do think of something as we’re chatting or as we’re talking today, be sure to just type that directly into the GoToWebinar chat module. We’ll be scooping those up as we go and adding them to the list and hopefully we can get to as many of those today as possible.

You can also tweet at us using the #EmmaAUE @emmaemail. We’ll be checking in that too and/or if you just wanna just tweet us in general, feel free. So to get started, I’m Jamie. I’m your moderator today. I am on our content marketing team here at Emma, and I am joined by some of my favorite colleagues. These are the folks that are working day in and day out to answer questions of our clients, to help them with their strategy, and most importantly, help them with the design of their emails and holistically sort of look at the entire experience. So we’re gonna be talking about design with some of the best and brightest that we have.

One last thing before we do hop in and get started and before I pass it over to these guys to introduce themselves and tell you a little bit more about why you should be listening to them today. If you are a customer that’s joining us today, this is not a training webinar. So if you do have questions that are about your specific account or are a little bit more technical, you can email support, S-U-P-P-O-R-T, And/or if you would like to talk to one of these guys here, you can email after or during the presentation today, and they can help you achieve greatness with your Emma account.

So before I kick it over to Logan, who’s gonna walk us through a brief presentation today and show you some really awesome design examples, I do want the rest of our awesome roster to introduce themselves. So, Rachel, I will kick it over to you.

Rachel: Absolutely. Thanks, Jamie. My name is Rachel Rogers. I work with the Onboarding team here at Emma. So our team works with all of our brand new clients, just making sure that you have everything you need to get up and running just as quickly as possible. We talk to you about your goals, and we make them our goals. And we make sure that all of our clients have everything they need to hit those just as quickly as possible.

Emma: Hey guys, I’m Emma, and just to get the question out of the way. My name is actually Emma, just a very weird coincidence, not as weird for me now, but definitely probably little strange for you guys listening in. I help lead our services team. So some of you may know and some of you may not know, but we run like a full-service email marketing agency at Emma. Our customer’s success is extremely important to us. So we have in-house, a technical services team, a strategic services team, and a design services team as well. Logan’s gonna be touching on design services.

But all that to be said, if you are on this webinar and you’re an email client and you are wanting to do better email marketing or you have some questions about your strategy, you’re looking to get better results, we have a whole team of email strategists who are ready to dive in and help you with your account and get the best results possible. So keep that in mind as we’re going through this. We’re happy to help,

Jamie: Absolutely. I wanna point out, and this happened prior to us making this beautiful slide here, but Emma is actually the Director of Professional Services now here at Emma. So congrats to Emma about [inaudible 00:03:50]

Emma: Thanks, Jamie.

Logan: All right. And I’m Logan Baird. I’m the Design Services Lead. And what that means is that my team creates the email templates and the emails for all of our customers both the gallery of email templates that we include with every account as well as all the custom work that comes our way. And I have the great privilege of leading you all through a guide to email design today in the discussion. So we are gonna jump right into this. All right. So we’re gonna start with the basics.

Jamie: Sorry, we muted [inaudible 00:04:26]. There you go.

Logan: All right. We’re gonna start with the basics. And the basics are that 54% of all email is open first on a mobile device. So if you take nothing else away from this today, be designing with mobile in mind, and with mobile in mind first at that. So we are gonna take a look here at a couple of examples. The one on the left obviously was designed with mobile in mind. So we’re using like larger font size, using kind of graphics that’s scaled down well, and that are still clearly legible at a mobile size as opposed to the example on the right where all of the texts is basically illegible. Nobody’s gonna read it. Eighty percent of your audience are just scanning your emails.

And so the main things that you wanna remember when designing are that you wanna keep things easily parsable and easily recognizable. And we’re gonna be talking about a number of ways to do that as we jump in. But the main thing with mobile is you’ve got a small screen size, so you want elements to show up well, and you want elements to be differentiated enough from one another that people can easily tell what each of those are. Moving right along here.

All right. So we get a lot of questions around columns and whether there’s ever kind of any reason to move away from like a single column design especially with mobile. And, of course, on iOS devices, we code those columns to stack. But on Gmail for mobile, it’s going to largely remain side by side. So as you can see here from the Garden & Gun example, a two-column arrangement can really still work as long as you remember that in Gmail unlike in iOS devices, we can’t set any special instructions for fonts to get larger. So you want images, and you want a font size that still stays legible when it’s still seen on a small device.

Of course, we always recommend testing your emails, whether you’re using a great testing service like Litmus or a particularly if you know that a particular client is used in your audience a lot like Gmail is always test it yourself in your own Gmail account and on your own device, mobile devices. So if you are wondering whether or not you want to try a double column in Gmail, I would say just put your content in there, send yourself a test, look at it on your device, and ask yourself, like, “How quickly can I recognize the content on here?”

All right. The next thing that I want to touch on is white space. White space is among the most criminally underutilized design practices, I think, right? White space is breathing room for the brain, right? You need it in order to be able to comprehend what you’re seeing. So with the proper use of white space, comprehension increases like up to 20% more than you’ve seen. You’ve seen these other emails, right? They’re like a wall of text. As soon as you see a wall of text, much like if you ordered a Sushi restaurant and they bring you an entire raw fish, you can’t really dive into that very easily, right? You need the small bite-size pieces in order to really be able to enjoy the meal.

Very similarly with white space. You don’t want a wall of text. You wanna break your text up so that there’s plenty of space around both it and the call-to-action. This is a great example where they have left so much white space around the outside and in between those elements. Again, we’re wanting to go for easily parsable where if you’re looking at it at a glance, you can easily tell what everything is and that you can kind of digest each of those small bits of text without having to spend too long on it since we know that people are mainly scanning, right?

Another question that we get often is, “How long should an email be?” And that is always going to be a little dependent on an industry. We’ve got a great example here of someone who really embraced the scroll right, which is Patagonia. But there are some really key things here that I wanna point out. And one of those is that it really focuses on the same content all the way through. It has a singular focus to the entire thing. So basically, we’ve got a video, a click-through video at the top, and then some text and a call-to-action, and then an image of that product as well as breakout images of the individual products mentioned, and then some more information.

So what it enables people to do is to engage more fully with this particular focus as if they’re interested. So if all they get to is that first call-to-action or even the video, you’ve achieved something. But if you want to allow them to jump in a little more deeply, you provide them the ability to do that, and they’re giving you more information by the different things that they click as they move down. So what I’d say we wanna stay away from largely is long emails with multiple focuses, right? It’s just our foci, can we say foci?

Jamie: Definitely, foci.

Logan: Definitely, foci. It just doesn’t. It doesn’t work because it distracts and it diffuses the information, the otherwise very useful information that you could get. But this is a great example of that singular focus longer scroll. All right. We’re gonna get into the CTAs a bit, and I’m gonna have my co-webineers…can we use the term webineers? Is that okay with you?

Emma: We can, 100%.

Logan: Okay, that’s good. [inaudible 00:09:53]

Emma: Keep up, people.

Logan: Sort of developing an entire new language as we go talking about crafting killer CTAs. So for calls-to-action and just to kind of quickly revisit what we were just talking about, again, this is such a great use of white space. There’s so much easily parsable breathing room kind of around each element here. And in particular, what we love here is that they varied both kind of the percentage off as well as the particular call-to-action language. And so we always recommend doing some A/B testing to see which is more effective. Does anyone else wanna weigh in on this particular one? All right, we’re good.

Rachel: No, I mean, I would just say that I will 100% agree as far as the design on this one. All of that empty space around it just brings such focus to the email. When I open this, it takes me two seconds maybe less to figure out what it is you’re asking me to do and makes me much more inclined to go ahead and click through because I don’t have to think about it too much. So when it comes to the call-to-action, neither of these say “Click here.”

Emma: I was gonna say that.

Rachel: So I would just say keep that in mind. Whenever I’m working with customers and I’m showing them different things in our editor like we have a button block that allows you to make these great CTA buttons and have an example, like, “This is how it works,” and I’ll start to type in that CTA, that call-to-action, and I like remind them like, “Don’t ever type and click here even if this is an example.” I mean, just at this point, it doesn’t really tell me anything about what value I’m getting through that click. It doesn’t entice me in any real way. It just feels like a throwaway. So I love that. Not only are they testing, but they’re testing with two different interesting call-to-actions that I may not even have seen before in an email.

Emma: I love that. If you’re using click here or subscribe to our newsletter anywhere in your email marketing strategy, please reach out to us. We would love to chat with you about that and help kind of optimize your strategy there.

Jamie: Absolutely.

Rachel: We may have strong feelings on this, I think

Jamie: And to Logan’s point, to all of your points, there’s such sparse texts here because people are scanning, so every word in this mailing matters. I think that’s a great reminder there.

Logan: Yeah. Making every word matter I think is a good way of thinking about it. You’re typing for impact, right? You want to grab attention and build engagement. And as you heard here first, folks, like, click here is just not enticing anymore. It’s out. All right. I wanna talk a little bit about building familiarity and aesthetic consistency across platforms here. So something that we certainly strive for on my team when we’re building and creating these designs is to build aesthetic consistency to help create a seamless experience for your brand. So like, for instance, we created the GoldieBlox email template design. But what we really strove to do is to keep that just so aesthetically consistent from platform to platform.

The reason for that is that when people are looking in their inbox, and they’re, you know, casually clicking on an email to open it, you want it to be immediately recognizable as to who is sending it. And you want that experience to be the same whether they’re visiting your website or if, you know, in this case, we’ve got a lovely lightbox form that’s popped up there on the website to gather email addresses. But building familiarity through consistency, through brand consistency is a deeply important part of this.

Emma: I love that template design. It’s adorable.

Logan: Yeah. So our designer did a delightful job with it, and we love having GoldieBlox as a client as well. All right. Common kerfuffles. So here we’re going to deal with a few design difficulties that just come across my desk very frequently and very commonly, and how we can deal with each of those. So this is an actual header design that was sent to me. So it was part of my role. People will send me designs to see if we can code them into our platform. And wherever possible, I try to educate and try to help eliminate kind of what some of the difficulties might be because a lot of designers just simply haven’t designed for email specifically. It is a very specific and particular beast. And so we definitely want to offer and help guide people out of the right pass around this.

So one of the main things with this particular header is we need to think modularly about the design. Designing for email is not a static design. It’s not ever a static design. It is gonna be seen on multiple platforms, at multiple widths, at multiple sizes. And in order to make the best use of some of those platforms and widths, we often like to be able to rearrange elements, particularly for smartphone screens to make the best use of that real estate. So in this particular instance, we’ve got elements here. Like, they wanted to be able to switch out that image of the living room to easily do that through our user interface in our editor. But with that view community overlapping it, it really isn’t able to…we were unable to code it that way.

And we’ve got this access is everything. When you’ve got elements that are separate in the code. So the access is everything. The studio, one and two bedroom apartments portion at the top, the image, the view, community, those are all gonna be separate elements in the code. And so they’re gonna scale down at different widths because they’re all different widths, to begin with. So we wanted to help the designer kind of think like, “How is this gonna look when it gets to mobile, and how do we accommodate for that?” So I worked with them a little bit, and then we came back, and they sent me this. So this is obviously not a finalized design.

They’re just more like, “Will this work?” And so what we’ve done is that access is everything. Instead of having that pattern behind it, they’re just gonna put a solid color. And that way, we can fill in that space around the actual image with an HTML color. So it doesn’t matter width it is, it’ll look like a seamless part of the design. And similarly, just sort of moving that overlapping view community back off of the image so that we can make that easily editable for them. So that’s the main thing. It’s just thinking modularly and thinking like, “How will these elements rearrange when they get to a mobile screen.”

Another very common thing that we see here is not thinking about how images will look when they have text elements on them when it gets to a smaller screen size. So this is roughly the size like, this is at a 640 width that they initially sent it over. And it’s got that kind of vague background pattern in the background, and you’ve got some small text on the top and bottom, which looks fine on a desktop. But what I always recommend is you take that, and then you size it down to 320 pixels. And as you see, once you get down to 320 pixels, while you can still sort of make out that text on the top and bottom, that background pattern really starts to get in the way, it makes it legible by and large.

And so I would either recommend that you have to kind of redesigning that particular graphic so that you don’t have that background texture interacting with it in that way. Or think about, like, try to just make this live text, to begin with where we can control the sizing of it a little bit more. By and large, you can create text on images. But I would limit that to a large degree. I would keep it to the really big things that you want to call attention to and then make as much as you can live text off of that. So if you have text on an image, size the image down to 320 pixels wide, see if it’s still legible. That is my pro tip right here.

Emma: And I think something to be said for that too is that we’re always just trying to make things easy for the subscriber. We’re trying to make it easy for them to sign up, trying to make it easy for them to click the call-to-action button, trying to make it easy for them to be able to read and digest the email. So something like that where I see kind of like white text on a multicolored background, you know. If we think about… Naturally, we’re used to reading darker text on the lighter background with, you know, font sizes that we can easily read. So just thinking about, “How can I get this, you know, the reading speed and comprehension up?” That’s definitely something to test and really look out for. Like, you know, there is something to be said for making things look super pretty. But at the end of the day, if someone can’t read it quickly and it’s not email-friendly, it’s not gonna be as effective.

Rachel: And I would also add that with live text, you’re also suddenly getting the ability to update this and change it up in an easier fashion. You have an email template. You have an email you’ve designed. We talked about consistency before. So you’re actually making it not just easy on your customer, but maybe a little bit easier on yourself if you wanna repurpose this for another message or if you’ve updated a tagline or something like that. Maybe you’re just gonna save a few minutes, but everything is crucial. So many of you I’m sure are a one-person operation in your email world, and live text can be helpful for you as well.

Logan: That’s a great point, Rachel. I’m just gonna very briefly touch on this, but it’s just a very important point. If your image has content in it, like the ones we were just looking at, please always, always, always use alt text. It’s really important for any email clients that have images blocked, which that’s more common perhaps in B2B situations where they may have some more stringent corporate security settings on the tail end of that, or particularly for accessibility reasons, right? You always wanna make your email accessible to people who use reading devices to help get through email. So always use alt texts. This is a screenshot from our editor where we make it really easy for you to add alt text, descriptive, lovely alt text to every image.

Jamie: And briefly just describe too. So when the images are blocked, specifically, what alt text,  alternative text means, yeah.

Logan: So alt text is text that show up when you get that broken image literal view in your email inbox.

Emma: Yeah. Absolutely. So you do not see the bridge. It just says, “This is a very cool video of the Golden Gate Bridge.”

Logan: It’s very enticing. I want to see that video if I could see it, but I can’t. All right. So let me talk a little bit about what’s hot now? And so animation, animated GIFs.

Emma: Glad that you know animated GIFs.

Logan: Yes. We know about your love for animated GIFs, Emma.

Emma: Big love.

Logan: Big love for animated GIFts. This is used really well in both of these emails, I think. The reason that animation works well in part is that we are sort of magpies by nature. We are drawn to the shiny and the moving. And so especially our peripheral vision catches motion more often than a straightforward. So if you are glancing at an email, you’re just scanning through it really quickly. If there’s motion, you’re more likely to return to it. So it helps kind of bring that visual reengagement. Additionally, I wanna point this out, like for video, you wanna make sure that you’re…we really recommend linking an image through to a video so you can gain real actual response data over who’s clicking on it. But you still want to have some motion there. So an animated GIF is really a good way of doing that.

Rachel: I’m mesmerized by this choice.

Emma: All I want his potato bomboloni now.

Rachel: Like the first time I saw this one, and I’m used to seeing GIFs in email, and I love them, and everyone should love them. Another thing we are strongly opinionated about, but this is just genius in my opinion.

Emma: I’ve actually never seen a GIF with the play button on it like that, which I think is so cool to link out to a video and not just have it be a static image. It’s a call-to-action within itself.

Jamie: I want also just to point out too, it’s not just that video and email is, you know, yes, you’re getting that data, but also you can control most…animated GIFs do show up for the majority of subscribers.

Logan: Everywhere but Outlook, basically.

Jamie: Yeah, yeah. So you’re much more likely to make an impact with a GIF and have it render properly than you would if you tried to try to do some video stuff.

Logan: Like, read, very much. All right. I’m gonna talk very briefly. So designing for the 51% is something that we really believe in here. So iOS devices and Apple Mail are just, of course, basically three of the email clients possible, but they account for 51% of the market share at least as of July. That number is only going to rise. And the good thing about iOS devices and Apple Mail is they do support fancier things like CSS3. CSS3 is what allows for CSS animation, which is a little bit lighter on the data size. The only downside to animated GIFs as they can be a little bit sizey, sizey. They can be a little bit be large in size. They can be a little bit large in size. And so a CSS animation can be a little lighter weight, and it allows for things like Google Fonts, which strangely enough, not even Gmail supports they’re own Google Fonts.

Jamie: I didn’t know that.

Logan: It’s a sad story, but we hope that they will change it someday. So this was our Marketing United email from last year. And so we put in this great animated GIF at the top as well as a video background there and was really just well done, I think.

Jamie: Thanks.

Rachel: I would agree.

Jamie: And something too you I wanna point out about GIFs that we ran into at Marketing United. In the event that the GIF does not animate for someone, you wanna make sure that the first frame of your GIF, if your GIF, let’s say, has a call-to-action in it, like save the date. If there’s words in the GIF that are the value proposition, make sure that that’s the first frame of your GIF because that’s the default that it will freeze to. So, just a nice rule of thumb there when you’re putting this together.

Logan: Excellent rule of thumb. Yes. Moving right along. So we’re gonna talk just a little bit of different sorts of email series or different sorts of, particularly effective emails. Thistle Farms is a brand that we love working with. And this is a welcome series that we helped them create, both in creating the template design where you can see, again, we’re building that kind of aesthetic, that seamless brand experience from email to email. People open it. They recognize it immediately because… and especially in a welcome series, that’s important because you’re just building that trust and familiarity. You’re just starting to get them accustomed to receiving emails from you. So like any place in life building, being consistent there is really important. But this is a great welcome series that we help them build. And Emma, I think your team helped them build it.

Emma: Yeah. So we had our designers design a custom template for Thistle Farms, and then we had Elizabeth on our services team, one of our email strategists, go in and really work with them to optimize their results and make sure they were getting, you know, the testimonial and all the different points of contact and how to become a Thistle Farmer and all of that great information. And actually after their custom design was created and after we started working with them, their click rates boosted 750%. So it actually went from a 2% to 4% click-through rate to 20%.

We implemented obviously the thoughtful design that our design team did. Elizabeth help put in some more using buttons rather than text links and some more tappable calls-to-actions, bigger fonts, different things like that that really made a huge difference for them that we were really excited to kind of partner with them and help with that.

Rachel: Yeah. And I love this series too. We’ve been talking about consistency a lot, and obviously, you see this here. We’ve got the same template all the way throughout. Obviously, the colors and the branding are there. But it’s a story that you’re telling through a series. There’s not the same call-to-action every time. You’re not driving the same point home. You’re not even really asking people to buy things in all of these emails. I mean, Thistle Farms is a nonprofit and they raise money, but they also sell these products. But if you look through these, you’re getting to know the brand. You’re getting to know their work. You’re getting to know the people involved.

And then once you’ve hit the fourth email, which I’m assuming is probably week four or something, if it was a four-week cadence, you’ve got this other offer to have a discount and maybe purchase and make some money off of that particular email. But you’re really just telling a story here and really as people join your list, they’re understanding very quickly what’s in store for them. It’s a really thoughtfully, well done, put together series, I think. Good job, Elizabeth.

Logan: Good job, Elizabeth. This would be a good example of a reengagement campaign. We love anything with a baby kangaroo on it.

Rachel: We definitely.

Logan: It’s good to know too that… So you’re building imagery into a campaign. We know particularly images of faces or images of faces that we can anthropomorphize as you can with a baby kangaroo pretty easily, definitely help build engagement with the audience. But this is a good example of that from our own Nashville Zoo. Does anyone else have any thoughts on that particular one?

Rachel: Well, I think touching on the point about the face there of not only using an adorable baby animal, which we know from everyone’s Facebook feeds is the most important thing on the Internet. Right next to that is where they’ve put this message. Like you put the, “We’ve missed you” right next to this kangaroos eyes. And so, you know, immediately because you’re gonna go there no matter what, you’re gonna look at the cute animal, and then you say, “Oh, wait, this is because I haven’t opened an email in a while, because I haven’t engaged with them for a while.” And so you instantly get the point. So that was a really smart choice I think design-wise to make sure that you’re putting the message next to that face because it makes sure that people are gonna see it for sure.

Emma: Yeah. This email just really highlights the importance of graphics and visuals. I was just thinking, taking out those two images, the email would have had a totally different vibe to it, and I think been a lot less effective. I love this stat that we process images 60,000 times faster than text. And that’s one of my favorite design services that we started offering about a year ago. It’s just those custom graphics. Like, for someone who may not need a whole new template design, they can still partner with us to create these little graphics and different things that they need to make their emails look professional and to be more effective, and incorporate, you know, awesome visuals that are gonna get the message across.

Jamie: Totally.

Logan: All right. And this would be a birthday email that our designer, Kelly, designed. And we know that emails sent on birthdays are particularly effective, aren’t they, Jamie?

Jamie: They are, yeah. Birthday email is the fun stuff. At somewhere around 60%, but people are more likely to take advantage of a discount on their birthday than they are if they are to receive the same exact discount on a different day. And I think that we talk about that a lot in some other presentations when it comes to just making people feel like they’re a part of your story, making them feel like you’re actually targeting content directly to them, and something like a birthdate is an incredibly easy piece of information to ask for. It’s also a piece of information that a lot of people already have stored on their contacts. But, you know, in this transcends, it’s not just retail, anyone…I’ve seen my…personally, it does my taxes sent me a birthday email. So that’s [crosstalk 00:28:45], but it’s a good one to add into the mix for sure.

Logan: And again, we’ve got a great use of imagery here. I would like to be that small pleased child with the cake about to bounce it out of me later in the strangling room.

Emma: Yeah. I love even how the hero image at the top has that triangle pointing down. Like, it immediately takes my eye down to this image and then I see, “Oh, this is birthday,” and then I’m gonna go straight to that call-to-action at the bottom. Yeah, very effective.

Logan: Very effective. All right. So we’re gonna jump into how we could help you. And we’re gonna talk a little bit about the design services that we offer here. So we build custom templates as you saw in many examples in the slides above. Here are a couple of great examples that our designers created. And a custom template is where we’re not only creating that kind of customized frame that reflects your brand, but we’re also building out a content layout using all of our best practices to make sure that we are featuring your calls-to-action and drawing the eye where it needs to go. And so the Atlas Society and the Planet Manic, both, I love the use that Kelly did of making the Planet Manic look like a desk at the top and kind of breaking the frame a bit.

And then showing like what is a just a good practice in general, which is kind of that image, the text, and the call-to-action, kind of jumping right to it. Another offering, if you feel really confident in being able to set up your content so that it reflects your brand well, we could also just create the frame and not touch your content at all. This is a great example that we created for Tito’s. And, again, that just really is a seamless experience for their brands from their website and their other channels of marketing to hear. Our designer, Kelly, did a great job with this.

We also create, as Emma mentioned, custom graphics. So this is an animated GIF that our designer, Tyler, created. And again, it’s, you know, fairly subtle as that goes. It’s just sort of changing screens. And we find that often animation works even best when it’s a little bit subtle, right?

Jamie: And again, pointing out, if you are viewing this in Outlook, let’s say, and that is not animating your, you’ve not lost any value in this message.

Logan: And then we can also create specialized campaigns where we are hard-coating in all of the content and just creating your campaign from start to finish. In this case, it was for a particular investor meeting. They wanted an invitation that would really stand out of the inbox. And so our designer, David, created that beautiful graphic, that animated GIF and it did very well for them. All right.

Emma: And I’ll just say one thing just about our design services. I love kind of the evolution. And, Logan, I know that we’ve worked really closely on that. But we used to just offer the frame, and that was kind of the bread and butter, just set template frame and always thinking about how we can add more value to our clients starting with the custom template. We were actually styling their content to then creating full campaigns with animated GIFs and lots of graphics and iconography and all these cool features that we can add and really help, you know, some of our smaller businesses look a lot bigger and look a lot more professional. It’s really a treat to get to see these clients get so excited to have these professional designers working with them.

Jamie: Absolutely.

Logan: Yeah, we really help people scale up when they don’t always have, you know, the personnel or the resources in order to do so. W can step in and fill that gap.

Emma: And all of that too with GoldieBlox, like, they have a great design team and they still, you know, outsource that template designed to us because they knew that we had the email experts here and that we could match their brand seamlessly and make something that really stand out across the inbox and across all platforms. It was really cool to partner with them.

Logan: Very much.

Jamie: Very cool. Well, I’m gonna hop in. Again, thank you, Logan. That was really, really awesome. Lots of really great examples. And you guys have asked some amazing questions. I’m just gonna rattle through these as fast as I can and whatever we don’t get to. Hopefully, we can get to everyone. Get back to you guys. So first and foremost, right out of the gate, I think this is a really interesting one. I know we touched on it a little bit, but Graham wants to know, “Is a button better than a text link? What do you guys think?” I know you got opinions. So we can size.

Logan: Such strong opinions.

Rachel: I would say that a) you guys, tell me if you disagree, that a button is better than a text link. I would say have both, but especially if you’re thinking about that 51%, if you’re thinking about mobile, a button is going to be. It’s gonna be a lot easier to interact with for people that are viewing that email on a smaller screen. It’s gonna catch your eye better. It just kind of tells you what to do. At this point, we’re all conditioned to kind of go for the tap when we see that button. I would still include your texts links in places that make sense not to be too confusing because you always wanna kind of drive people to that call-to-action, but I do think having a button in your email is gonna be the most effective way to get people to check out what you’d like them to do. The reason you sent the email in the first place.

Emma: Yeah, definitely. And I typically say clients who I’m working with on that, text links are great for, like secondary calls-to-action. If you’re gonna include a text link, don’t just link out one little word. You know, think about making it easy for your subscribers to making sure you’re linking out a sentence or a few words so they still, you know, are easier to tap on mobile via buttons all the way. Especially with Emma, we have the bulletproof HTML buttons. So they show up in the inbox as HTML, so they’re never gonna disappear. Or if images are turned off or anything like that so definitely your best bet. And Thistle Farms really proved that with the new design and using buttons and a couple of best practices we put in place really just skyrocketed their click-through rates.

Logan: Yeah. HTML button, really, it also just offers more surface area to click on, or to tap, tap. We’ll talk about tapping. And the HTML button in particular because it offers kind of the best of both worlds, you get some of the stylizations that you get with an image, but you get the consistency of a text link.

Jamie: Absolutely. Good stuff. So buttons rule. Text links are still cool, but make sure your fonts are sized up to an appropriate size. About 14 pixels?

Logan: An appropriate size. Yeah.

Jamie: Okay. Moving on. So it actually, it just really quickly, Kristen has asked, “What is live text?” So just to clarify in case anyone is unclear, HTML versus live text, if you wanna just briefly kind of explain what that is just that we all know.

Logan: [Inaudible 00:35:08] Sure. So HTML, when we talk about HTML text or live texts, we’re functionally talking about the same thing, right? So we can use those terms interchangeably.

Jamie: Exactly. It just means that it’s not an image that could accidentally get blocked. It’s going to show up for literally every single person that can receive that email.

Emma: Right. And to get kind of basic… it’s something you’ve typed, you know. Live text is gonna be something that you just copy in your email, and it isn’t embedded on an image or something like that.

Jamie: Absolutely.

Logan: Something you typed.

Emma: Perfect, simple enough, right?

Jamie: All right. So we’re talking about design here. Kathy has a great question. I really liked this one because we did show some amazing examples of templates that we’ve created for people. But Kathy wants know, “How often should you change a newsletter template design? What are sort of some rules of thumb there, a variety of templates that you guys had built for people? What are you seeing out there as far as switching that up?

Logan: Well, certainly something that I’ve seen actually fairly often is people using a template design that no longer matches their branding, right? They’ve made some branding changes even if they’re small branding changes. And so you wanna think about if you made any sort of changes to your branding the last few years, but you haven’t updated this channel of marketing as well, you want to take the time to do that. And so it’s better not to think of email template is an evergreen sort of thing, you wanna keep up with the times. You wanna keep that fresh with your brand.

Jamie: Exactly.

Emma: I think variation too. We have a lot of people who come on and work with our designers, and they may have one template done, but they may have three other revisions. So if they know that they’re doing event announcements or birthday emails or different things like that, we kind of take that overall branding and just slightly tweak it to add that little bit of interest, and staying down in the inbox is something different than the typical monthly or weekly send. It’s just a little bit more eye-catching while still on brand.

Rachel: And I would think about also that whole if it ain’t broke as well. Like, let’s say you haven’t changed your beer branding and everything is working, and you have a newsletter template which is what you asked about specifically. And you definitely wanna change things up, but just watch your metrics. Watch the engagement. Watch your open rate.

If you have other templates you’re sending that maybe get more interaction, things like that, then maybe it’s time to change. But at the same time, consistency is important. So I mean I personally wouldn’t wanna leave something alone for longer than six months to a year. Feels weird. Because I like…when I open something, and it’s similar but different, I’m excited. But at the same time, pay attention to what’s working for you. And if it’s working, stick with it.

Emma: So hero images can come into play, too. We also, in addition to doing like template revisions, sometimes we’ll do one template for clients and then have different hero images. So for those of you who maybe are newer to email, that’s kind of just the big long image at the very top kind of like a banner right below where your logo and the header of your template will be. But that could say, you know, “Welcome.” It can be for birthday. It could be for a sale. You know, you have those as branded and professional and is seamless with your template, but it still offers that little bit of differentiation and kind of that uniqueness for whatever the content of your email is.

Logan: Yeah. We’ve got one of our clients, PGC Basketball, that uses us for that particular service every month. We create a lot of great, interesting, different hero images for them to help set their content up.

Jamie: And I think that’s a great sort of transition to talk about. You guys have thrown out some wonderful advice. We’ve had multiple questions. This is actually a pretty popular question that we get on most webinars. But how does this apply to B2B? So we obviously showed a lot of really amazing examples of retailers, and the zoo, and some nonprofits and things, but specifically for B2B brands. And we’ve got a couple of different variations on this type of question. Tan asked, “Should B2B emails include images or not?” And we had someone else ask just, “How much of this applies to B2B? How much of it doesn’t?” So when you guys get those questions, how does that shake out?

Rachel: Well, the first thing I would think prior to my work on the onboarding team, I actually worked on the team with Jamie and was our communication strategists. So I was sending emails to you guys, those of you who are Emma customers. And the first thing I think of when I get this question, and it’s a completely valid question because it’s a different space, is that people are opening your emails the same as people are opening a B2C email. So the same tricks are gonna work. The white space is still gonna be important. The CTA button is still gonna be important. I think everything we’ve said here. Maybe a birthday email doesn’t work for you for whatever reason. So those kinds of things might shift up a little bit. But when it comes to email design, it’s the same audience. Those are people at the other end. So I think you can really take the things that we’ve been talking about here and apply those to your work.

Emma: I concur.

Logan: You concur? That’s good. And email marketing is always about prompting focused action, right? So the design principles that helped move people towards taking the action that you want them to take are applicable, whether that’s you’re, you know, emailing your customers or emailing other businesses. The one thing that I might wanna add is simply that if you’re emailing B2B, then there’s probably a higher likelihood that they are either using Outlook or they’re using Google apps or, you know, basically a version of Gmail or Apple Mail would be kind of the top three clients for most B2B emails. And so you just kinda wanna design with that in mind.

Rachel: Yeah. And think about…for those of you who are Emma customers, when you go to the response page and look at how your mailing performed, you can actually see what clients people are using to open your emails. For B2B, maybe there’s some concern about image blocking, but we’ve talked about alt texts, so we know how to handle that problem. But when you’re thinking about how you’re designing for those B2B audiences, check out your response page to get a good idea of who you’re 51% is actually made up of.

Jamie: Exactly. And I think that’s a good time to point out too that there are tools out there. If you’re an Emma customer, we can help you do this. If you’re not an Emma customer, which I know there are a lot of you that aren’t, you can use a tool like Litmus or Email on Acid. Those are two different businesses where you can run any campaigns through them, and it will automatically show you how those will render in all different environments. So we do that for every single email that we send out to hopefully mitigate any kind of, you know, flaws or things we might have overlooked.

Emma: It’s so worth the little bit of extra time. My team works with so many clients, and I’m just always pushing like testing your emails and testing just anything that you’re doing and really experiencing the emails that you’re sending… experience, they’ll experience… Oh, my gosh, experience, you know, the welcome emails that you’re sending or the signup form. Whatever subscribers are going through, you need to go through that too because it’s amazing how many times like that’s just not incorporated in the strategy, and easy things that can be fixed are just missed because that little step isn’t included in.

Rachel: And that’s the nature of the beast in email that no matter what you do and how great you are at your work, things are gonna render differently in different clients. Logan touched on this earlier. Little things you wouldn’t think would be different from Outlook to Mac Mail might be different. So you have the ability to test that. I would say, never sent without testing across as many clients as you can. It’ll make you better at your job. And it’s interesting to see what’s different where.

Jamie: Absolutely. Here’s a really good question from Noah because we’ve talked a lot about images. We’ve talked about texts. We clarified what live text is for everyone. So Noah is saying specifically, “I see many e-commerce emails out there that are made up of many giant images. I think long infographics, but with product images, pricing, etc. How do all image email stack up against hybrid emails with a mixture of images and HTML text? I feel like only sending huge image only emails isn’t a solid best practice, but I’m curious what you guys think.”

And I think that’s a great question because I know that in my own inbox, I get awesome emails all day long from lots of retailers that definitely set me in and I have to be very careful. But yeah, you do. I mean, we respond better to images. We see so many emails out there. And so what do you guys recommend when it comes to, you know, lots of images, lots of texts? Like, what’s that balance kind of look like typically? Or would you recommend?

Logan: Well, so we know for certain that emails that are all image and there is no text content are something that will set off a spam client, most of the time it’s spam trigger, because that’s how a lot of spammers hide the content of their emails is by putting in text as an image in the email. So we would definitely steer you away from all images. But past that point, there was recently, not too long ago, like an Email on Acid article they talked about the ratio of images to text. And while there isn’t kind of a magic ratio, there are a lot of like 60:40 ratios that are kind of bandied around that. You want over 500 characters of text, right? Over 500 characters. And so if you’ve got over 500 characters and responsible use of images, you should be good to go.

Rachel: I like that for responsible use of images.

Jamie: Yes, please image responsively, ladies and gentlemen. That’s a great question. And then speaking of fonts and images, Diane asked, “Can you explain the best way to feed your fonts and email that might not be default fonts in your editor? I’d love to use a font that we feature on our website and our emails, but I’d love to also have control in the event that that doesn’t show up for everybody.”

Emma: Great question.

Logan: Yeah, this is a great question, one that we certainly get a lot. So the best way to think about fonts and email is that we are not installing fonts in a template, right? We’re not installing fonts in an email. We are telling the code to go look for the font once it reaches the recipient’s machine. The only way that we kind of…and we code fonts in what we call Stack. So it’s just like if we don’t find Helvetica, we’ll look for Ariel. If we don’t find Ariel, we’ll just settle with any old San Serif Font, right? Like, that’s how we code them. And we code the most common fonts. Like, we code them so that we look for the fonts that we know are commonly installed across kind of the widest number of machines, because you want that to be consistent.

Now that said, you can use Google Fonts or hosted fonts. We use hosted fonts. Like, we use Proxima Nova in a lot of our emails, and we host that font ourselves, and we use a bit of code to call that into the template. But again, that only works in iOS devices and Apple Mail. So you always wanna have an email safe default past that. So, like, I got that question today from someone asking if they could use Gotham as their font in the email. We can absolutely code that into a font stack, but we can’t guarantee that everybody’s gonna see it in Gotham.

Jamie: Yeah, absolutely. And just to sort of point out, how many are there now? Website fonts? There sort of a roster, right?

Logan: Right. We do have a roster. I don’t have a number off-head.

Jamie: Okay. But it’s not a large number. I mean, especially… And again, I think that’s just a great thing to point out. And I think we’ve reiterated a lot in today’s talk. You can never fully control what someone is viewing your email on, and you wanna just try to either partner with someone like Emma or, you know, really have a good talk with your email designer about making sure that there are a lot of sort of safety nets in place to make sure that no one’s at least missing your message, right?

Logan: That’s great.

Jamie: Cool. Loving it. So, gosh, you guys have so many good questions. RJ has a great question. “What is recommended padding?” And I’m assuming he’s sort of meaning around that text. So what would you…when that comes up?

Logan: I mean, that’s gonna depend. There’s no magic number, RJ. I wish I can tell you a magic number. I would say that you know, when I’m designing or coding an email, I typically, you know, vary between, like, 20 or 40 pixels of padding around elements. It just depends on how comfortable you are with white space. I mean, I encourage you to get very comfortable with white space.

Emma: Very.

Logan: But, you know, I vary between 20 and 40. Some of it is just gonna be eyeballing it and seeing like, “Can I, you know, give it a quick scan and quickly parse what’s going on?”

Rachel: Yeah. I feel validated by your answer, Logan, because when I was sending email before living for Emma, 30 was my magic number. So right there in the middle of 20 and 40.

Logan: You always meet me in the middle, Rachel.

Jamie: Yeah, just make sure people can read it.

Rachel: Yep.

Jamie: Do a test on yourself?

Rachel: You’ll know when it looks awkward. And also check it in the inbox, not just in the editor. Not just in preview.

Logan: Yes. Always check it in the inbox.

Jamie: Yeah. Here’s, shifting gears just a little bit. Kelly has a great question. And I think this sort of ties back into the idea of, you know, the email design is fantastic at sort of creating a cohesive experience from, you know, what did I see when I got there to your email. They wanna click away. So Kelly just wants to know, “Is it a bad idea to make readers click through your email to your website for more information? We are concerned about introducing that extra step versus making our emails longer with more content. Thanks.” So when I click away from the email, is that good or bad?

Emma: I think there’s a couple of things here. Typically, it’s like what is the point of the email? What is the call-to-action that you are trying to drive? If what you’re trying to drive is website visits, which sometimes that can be the case, then that’s a great option is to have everything kind of drive traffic to the website. If it’s an event announcement or something like that where that content is in the email, and it’s really important that they stay in the email, I think you would kind of adjust that strategy.

I also think, you know, we always say, “List a little, link to more,” and email is not the place to maybe post like a full blog post article. So I do think that’s a good idea to link it out if you have a couple of little snippets or tidbits of content allow people to select what they’re interested in and then linking out to the website or to another landing page would be a good option there. But again, it all just kind of goes back to what the goal of the email is.

Rachel: Yeah. I would say, I mean, you have a call-to-action just like Emma said. Your email serves a purpose. And I think typically, most emails, the point of them is to get you to take action and that action is not gonna happen in your email. So when you’re thinking about that, you wanna be really thoughtful about where you put the call-to-action if there’s something that’s important in the email that they need to catch. But the truth is if they click the button and you should have everything they need where they land. So there shouldn’t… My answer to that question immediately was like, “Yeah, that’s good. Send them to your website or to your store or to a ticketing agent, to RSVP, or…” You know, you had a reason for sending that email just like Emma said, and typically, that reason is gonna live outside of the email itself.

Logan: And you want to know what content engages, right? And so without something to click through, you’re not getting any sort of actionable data. And you want to learn about your recipients. You want to be able to learn what they like, and what they don’t like, and what they’re bored by, and what they’re excited by. And you learn that through click-throughs.

Jamie: Exactly. And I think a good point to make there is that we stress in lots of places is if you are taking me somewhere, make sure that that is a good experience on a mobile device as well. So the email does not live in a vacuum. If it looks great on a phone and I click away to a website that is difficult to read, and it isn’t working, it’s vitally important that you sort of connect those dots and make sure it’s a nice cohesive experience.

Emma: Again, going back to just experiencing the strategy and send yourself emails, click on all the links, and… Yeah.

Rachel: Yeah. At this point, and I know maybe it’s because I work in this space, but I have a feeling that most people at this point, if you are on your phone and you land at someone’s landing page or website, and it’s not working on your phone, I kind of…the judgment call about, like, “What’s going on here?” Like, “Why doesn’t this work? I’m gonna leave.” Because if it’s hard to interact, then it’s not worth my time.

Jamie: There’s actually a study, this is Jamie, again, that Google did that, especially in a sort of B2C businesses. Not only will people have a bad experience if they land on an optimized mobile site, they actually will Google a competitor instead. And it was, I believe, the percentage was, and I’m sort of spitballing here, it was somewhere around 40% of people will actually actively look at a competitor because it sort of devolves that trust in, you know, what they have in your brand. So I think it’s really important, vitally important.

So on the flipside of that, so we were just talking about clicking from the email to somewhere else, Jason is asking, “How can I customize the opt-in to show graphics of my pop-up sort of form?” And I think what he’s asking about here are, how do you customize that experience when I wanna sign up for your emails? And this is something that you guys, Emma, your team, Phillips specifically on our tech services team helps people all day long with this. So what does that kind of look like?

Emma: Yeah. So as far as customizing the signup form experience, you know, Emma does have lightbox forms and classic forms. But if you’re looking for something that’s gonna be more consistent with your branding just as Logan was highlighting with GoldieBlox, the signup form to the template to their website, all being very consistent. That is something that we specialize in on our services team and create something completely customized for our clients that highlights their brand, that is, you know, offers a good lead magnet and incentive, and will kind of hopefully help to really drive those subscriptions.

Jamie: Great [inaudible 00:52:16]

Emma: And if you’re interested in that… yeah,, just reach out. Someone will be in touch quickly and kind of figure out what it’s gonna be the best fit for you or give you some recommendations to go off of.

Jamie: And just one clarification too, Elliot just wrote in, “Are you saying hero image and that is indeed, so H-E-R-O? Like, last action hero?

Emma: Yes. Hero, yeah.

Logan: Not euro. I mean, it’s not mentioned as euro.

Jamie: Yeah. And this actually goes into another question that someone asked that I thought was excellent. Let me find it here. About, we’ve said the term also “above the fold” a couple of times. Hero image is another one. Rachel, I feel like you had some good sort of where you were chatting before the presentation about where to put your calls-to-action and things like that.

Rachel: Sure.

Jamie: So we actually had someone specifically ask, “Is above the fold per sé putting things there,” which is one question. Then another question is just sort of like, “What do you do with that space? So can you kind of briefly explain what above the fold means, what hero image [crosstalk 00:53:17]?

Rachel: Sure. Yeah, hero image and above the fold, those are both like terms hearkening back to like print journalism, right? Above the fold, specifically thinking about a newspaper. Unless something is folded in half, you want it to be above that, so people see the front of the newspaper. So if you’re thinking about email, when I think about above the fold, I’m thinking about a mobile screen, and I’m thinking about how far I have to scroll to see the actual call-to-action or even on a desktop as well. And hearing that as per sé, I’m sure we could get into a discussion about that because it’s interesting to discuss these things and see what’s working differently for people.

But I will say that with the clients that I work with, just making sure that that call-to-action, that primary call-to-action is easily seen. People spend only a few seconds on your email. They’re only scanning the text that’s there. So I would go ahead and argue that putting that call-to-action a little bit higher is gonna really have the best effect. But you can also repeat it. If you think about the email that Logan showed us earlier from Patagonia that was so spot on where it’s got a single focus, and it’s got, you know, it’s all about going to their website and shopping this particular line. So they’ve repeated that call-to-action several times. So as long as you’re staying engaged with the email, that’s fantastic, but you get every opportunity possible to click through.

Jamie: Love it. Yep. And I think Logan said the term, “Embrace the scroll earlier,” which is a great point. Above the fold is important. Again, like Logan said, 80% of people are scanning, but we are naturally inclined now to sort of scroll through stuff. It feels weird if we can’t. So I think that sort of ties it together nicely. To repeat, keep it focused, but don’t be afraid to let people interact with it, the mailing on mobile. So good answers, guys. So we are running low on time, but I think we probably have time for one more question. Let me find a…

Emma: Oh, who’s it gonna be?

Jamie: And RJ is asking, “What is a hero image?” It is just simply the big picture at the top of the mailing above the fold. So if I open your email and I see a picture, that’s a hero image.

Rachel: Just kind of anchoring message.

Emma: So that Nashville Zoo example that had the “We miss you.” Like, that would be that hero. I mean, that kind of states what the main point of the email is.

Jamie: Absolutely. So that’ll be… Actually, it was our very last question, but one last very important question here. Oh, this is a great one from Kyle. “Do you guys build all of your emails on a 600-pixel width base or do you venture beyond that width and use a more fluid approach?” And so that’s kind of taken it. Yeah. What would be the recommended width for emails and how do we build ours by default?

Logan: True thing. So our current standard is 640 pixels. We find that that suits kind of the narrowest of the browser email client viewport, so that’s Yahoo. So you always wanna avoid anyone having to horizontally scroll through your email. It’s not a good experience in order to have to scroll over to see or read anything. You lose that engagement. So we find that 640 works well for that as well as for the majority of tablets as well. And then we have a media query that’s a breakpoint of 480 pixels to determine when it uses that different set of instructions for mobile, specifically for smartphones, really. So you can design it narrower than that, and a fluid approach is certainly something that we’re investigating and would like to move towards, but our current standard is 640 pixels.

Jamie: That’s great. And actually, we had one last question about GIFs because I think they’re the wave of the future. The future is now. But Shaylie asked, “What do you recommend for the max size for mailing GIF?” And you did mention that they can get kind of large file size-wise, correct?

Logan: Sure. And this is true of sort of any images. So image size in and of itself, individual image size, does not affect deliverability. There have been some good studies done. Again, I think I had another email and asset article that I read. There is not any particular image size that you have to adhere to. Now, that said, the overall kind of data size of the email is something that you’re gonna wanna keep. So we are talking about data size in a couple of ways. There’s the data size that’s just the text and the code, right? And that’s, you wanna keep that at around 100 kilobytes.

And then for what we call the loaded weight, that includes the images included. So the loaded weight is the term that you guys can take home with you. The loaded weight of an email and you wanna keep that between 600 and 800 kilobytes total. And if you keep it around that, you’re gonna avoid most spam filters. So while there’s no magic like single image size, you do wanna keep the overall image size like the overall data size of the email under 800 kilobytes.

Emma: So it doesn’t matter the image size. It matters more how many images you have in addition to how much copy you have, but what size of the image does not affect.

Logan: It doesn’t. There are other reasons like we talked about earlier, why you’d wanna avoid like a single [inaudible 00:58:17] stuff, but you’re looking at kind of the cumulative size of the images and not any particular one.

Emma: Awesome.

Jamie: Great answer. And so we are actually out of time, but we do have one last question from Brent, and I think it’s pretty good. How long has Logan had his man bun?

Logan: Oh, Brent, that’s been such a journey.

Emma: The man bun actually goes all the way down to his waist for those of you who cannot tell. It was quite a shock when I first started working here about three months in when I saw the hair down, and I had no idea it was there.

Logan: Yeah, when I unfurled them. The man bun itself stays on the top of my head. Yeah. So it’s been about like nine years, Brent. It’s been almost a decade of my life.

Jamie:  So it ain’t a trend. He is a pioneer.

Emma: Uh-huh. In it to win it.

Jamie: Pioneered an email design and man bun. So there you go. Thank you guys so much. We are out of time for the day. Thank you to Rachel, Emma, and Logan for all your awesome expertise. Again, if you have any questions, you can email, and we will hook you up. And if you are a customer and you had a tech question that we did not address today, I will skim through those and make sure we get you the help that you need. But again, we’ll send the recording out and, yeah, have a lovely rest of your week and a great weekend.

Rachel: Thanks, y’all.

Ready to do your best email marketing?

Request a tour

We use cookies to serve personalized content and targeted advertisements to you, which gives you a better browsing experience and lets us analyze site traffic. Review our cookie information to learn more. You can manage your cookie preferences at any time.