Now before you start checking out templates, you need to ask yourself a couple of important questions. For example:
- Who is your target audience, and how well do you know them?
- What kind of device are they using to access your online content?
You may be running a business which sells or distributes mobile apps. In this case, you would obviously want to design your emails so they will look perfect viewed on mobile devices. Otherwise, the graphics and text content of your emails may appear distorted on these screens.
Remember that more than 50% of internet users are now browsing and checking their emails on mobile devices. If you were to only design your emails so they appeared properly on laptop screens, then you will be alienating a significant portion of internet users who are not using laptops. If you are trying to reach both types of audiences, then you need an email design which will look beautiful on mobile and laptop screens too.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each kind of design, but it all comes down to which suits your business and your audience best. Let’s take a look at some.
Mobile-First Email Designs
A mobile-friendly email design- believe it or not- is one that caters especially to mobile devices, and focuses on ensuring that your email displays correctly on smaller screens. The layout of the designs will usually consist of one column with a call to action and big font. Since different mobile screen sizes tend to scale down the text sizes, it is important that you use large fonts in order to keep the text readable on these various mobile screens.
As a marketer, you’re going to want to try mobile-first design if your audience primarily accesses your emails on their mobile devices. It’s also relatively easy for the designer, since they’re relatively simple to design. Plus, you don’t need to generate reams and reams of content. Keep text direct and to the point, then enlarge the font to make it as readable as possible. You don’t really need to be a technically gifted person to create a design like this, or to play around with a template.
But if you’re looking to do something fancy with your design, mobile-first design might not be for you. It takes good design skills to create a template that’s rich in content but also loads and responds quickly. You may also see scalability issues with pictures and videos as well.
Responsive Email Designs
Responsive email designs use media queries through CSS coding to change the way the design looks on a particular device. In other words, the coding specifies certain rules for how the email design looks on various screen sizes. If the CSS detects that someone has a screen size from a mobile device to view the email, then it will load the mobile template on their screen. If it detects a screen size from a laptop computer, then the traditional computer template will load on the screen.
Designers will have a little more work to do with responsive email designs because they need to code and design a template for each type of device. That being said, CSS can be applied to multiple web pages/email templates at a time, so once you have a general design, you can edit or repurpose the content as much as you’d like. This is why responsive email design is so useful, especially to small businesses, who can’t always afford hiring somebody to code things like newsletters and web pages for them.
Hybrid Email Designs
Hybrid email designs are a more liberal version of responsive email designs. What this means is that hybrid email designs do not use media queries or a set of predesigned templates to accommodate the screen size of a particular device. Instead, a hybrid email design has responsiveness built into it. A hybrid email design is built to look consistent across multiple platforms(i.e. Hotmail, Gmail, etc.)
This makes it a universal design that can work with any type of device. If you use special email clients to send your emails, hybrid designs will work well for them too. Hybrid email designs will give you the most control over the content of your emails. However, the downside is that you need to hire an advanced developer who understands concepts like percentage-based widths and setting maximum widths for designs. If you are using designs that are complex, then it might be more difficult to get the hybrid email design to show up properly.
Which Design Should I Use?
Mobile-first design is great if you know that the vast majority of your customers access your emails on their devices. If they do, going mobile-first is going to cut down on the time and effort it will take to create a good-looking design. It’s also fairly simple to do for yourself if you follow a free online guide/template.
Responsive design is best if you don’t have plenty of resources available. For an initial fee to a designer, you can have a design that’s ready for whatever device your audience want to view it on. But if you’re planning on designing the email yourself, you’d have to learn CSS and HTML (at least), which isn’t for complete beginners.
Hybrid design is more complex still, as you’ll have to hire a developer to code it for you. That being said, hybrid designs look good no matter where you see them- so, basically, you get what you pay for!
No matter which design you are using, there are some common-sense tips that you should follow before sending out emails.
- The biggest tip is to not embed massive images into your emails. This will increase the data size of the email which may cause some email providers to filter it as spam.
- Also, there are certain mobile users who may be using a data connection rather than a Wi-Fi connection. If they have to download big images or even videos, this will eat away at their data limit—never a good thing. That’s not to mention that their signal might be patchy, and they might struggle to download a bigger, richer email.
- If you make your emails too rich in content, many people with older smartphones won’t be able to load them quickly, which is going to damage your clickthrough rate.
Truth be told, the best thing you can do is to have a chat with whoever’s going to code/design your emails and newsletters. Let them know what you’re trying to achieve, and go from there. And rope in whoever’s in charge of marketing, too- they’ll be able to tell you whether your audience are using mobile devices to access your emails or not.
Email design is important to get right because first impressions are important. Design is what all good content is based on- so get your design right, and the rest will follow!