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5 Design Rules for Successful Email Marketing

Email Marketing Fast Fives | Article #2

Lasso’s new bi-monthly blog series, Email Marketing Fast Fives, explores best practices in email design, list management, and deliverability in 5 easy tips per article.

Email design doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. In fact, the opposite is true. These days, communicating your message in a clean, distraction-free format leads to higher engagement rates from your readers. Below are five design rules that will make your email look better and easier to read – and you don’t have to be a designer to implement them!

1. Use separate images and text, rather than one jpg image.

The three biggest reasons for this are: 1) Your email will not be responsive or render properly on mobile devices, 2) Some email service providers – Outlook, AOL, Yahoo – do not display images when a user opens email, and 3) it looks unprofessional and outdated.  Instead, use a clean font that contrasts with the background of your email, along with separate images.

2. White space is ok.

Proper use of white space helps to direct the reader’s eye where you want it to go. Not every space has to be filled with text or images.

use white space in email design

Examples of emails without (L) and with (R) enough white space.

3. Use a 1-column format for better mobile viewing.

According to Litmus’ 2017 State of Email Report, 54% of all email is now opened on a mobile device. Email must be designed for the mobile experience. A good rule of thumb, if you are designing an email without professional help, is to use a 1-column format: text follows image. This way, even if no additional responsive code is added, your email will still look great on a cell phone screen.

4. Use prominent CTAs.

Each email you send should have a goal. Do you want people to register for an event? View a floor plan? Download a resource? Make it perfectly clear what action you want your reader to take by making the call-to-action button prominent and uncluttered. Make it big enough (200-300 pixels wide) and surround it with white space so that someone can easily touch it with their finger on a mobile screen.

5. Recommended email width is 600-700 pixels. Length is not as important.

While responsively-designed emails can top out at 960 pixels wide to accommodate more screen sizes, if you are designing email yourself, best practice is to stick to 600-700 pixels wide. That goes for images and text boxes. Any larger and you risk the reader having to scroll left or right to read the email. Length is not as important, since it is the natural tendency to scroll down on both desktop and mobile to read email. Avoid anything in the design that could cause frustration and email abandonment, like side-to-side scrolling. (If you have access to a professional email designer, they’ll be able to create responsive emails that change columns depending on screen size, so scrolling is not an issue.)

email design that is too wide

In this email example, the user must scroll right to see the entire email.


For more information on email marketing, read additional tips on the Lasso Blog.

Lasso CRM's Guide to Email Marketing

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