14 tips for an effective email marketing campaign

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When you send a marketing email for your business, you want it to arrive in the inbox, get viewed and, presumably, inspire some sort of action — whether it’s a click-through to your website, a document download or a phone call. Here are seven “dos” and seven “don’ts” to help you optimize your email design and delivery for maximum effectiveness.


… use Adobe Flash or video embeds. They do not work in emails. You can link to a video on a landing page but embeds will not operate properly or, really, at all.

… use animated GIFs. Most versions of Outlook use the MS Word rendering engine, which only shows the first frame of a GIF animation.

… use top banners. These are often flagged as promotions by Gmail.

… use HTML bullet points. They simply don’t render well in email. Plain text alternatives such as dashes or asterisks are a safer bet.

… use PNGs. This file type is not recognized by Lotus Notes, meaning that some of your images might not make it to the inbox. Instead, use JPEG and nonanimated GIF files.

… use large images. Large file sizes increase email load time and directly affect campaign success.

… use large blocks of text. Readers skim emails to determine their relevance. Emails with dense text limit the reader’s ability to spot key messages and are more likely to end up in the trash.


… use white space to break up the page and emphasize key messages and content.

… use A/B splits to test changes to the email design or subject line, testing only one element at a time.

… use a responsive template. Approximately 50 percent of emails are now read on mobile devices. Responsive templates help to ensure that your emails remain attractive across multiple platforms.

… design with tables. While they might be passé for web design, many email programs can’t read the latest design code. Your best bet to reach inboxes with your email layout intact is to stick to tables.

… stick to single-column designs whenever possible in order to optimize appearance across desktop and mobile platforms.

… keep email widths under 650 pixels. The Outlook preview pane can properly display emails up to 650 pixels. Larger emails require side-to-side scrolling and are less likely to be read.

… add social media buttons to encourage message-sharing beyond your current network.

As consumer and business focus shifts more to online platforms, email marketing must compete harder for attention.

Emails that are attractive, informative and optimized across various platforms will keep your audience’s interest, boost interaction and maximize the benefits of a well-planned email campaign.


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