Quick Tip: Email Design Cheat Sheet

A successful email has a lot going on–there are so many variables to consider! What's in the subject line? What kind of content will be there? Is everything displaying correctly? Am I doing this right?

Our friends over at Campaign Monitor have developed the Really Good Guide to Email Design, and we love how easy they've made it to understand all the best practices for email. We've summed up some of their points here:

  • SUBJECT LINE: Make it engaging, personal and relevant. Keep length to 65 characters or less. Emojis can increase open rates
  • PREHEADER: Lets customers know why the email is relevant. Keep it short (40-70 characters).
  • PERSONALIZATION: Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Think about how to personalize other information in the body of the email based on your database. Contextual Marketing Focus on more of a 1-to-1 engagment. Tailor emails to specific subscribers for a more individual experience.
  • DYNAMIC CONTENT: Show different content depending on recipient (think: menswear for male subscribers, womenswear to female subscribers).
  • LAYOUT: Use a logical hierarchy with large headlines and images to focus reader attention.
  • WIDTH: 600px is the sweet spot for most email clients.
  • IMAGES: Use imagery that has context and meaning–should add to your message, not distract from it. Make sure your file sizes are small, but format images for high-resolution displays. Use alt text for clarity if images don’t load.
  • FONTS: Use webfonts whenever you can! If you need to set a default font, make sure it’s a web safe font, not just a System font. Many popular email clients have default fonts.
  • WHITE SPACE: Adding blank areas around important elements helps them stand out and increases click-through.
  • MOBILE OPTIMIZATION: Use a mobile-friendly template. Keep text short and use clear, easy-to-click CTA buttons.
  • CTA BUTTONS: Should be big enough to tap on a phone (around 50px tall) and have high color contrast. Keep occurrences to a minimum so the path for the user is clear. 
  • MOTION: Video and GIFs are a great way to add visual interest to an email. Ideal GIF size is under 1MB.
  • COPY: Understand your audience and use an appropriate tone. Be sure to have someone else proofread your email before it's sent out to subscribers.
  • FOOTER: It's a best practice to include your company's social links. Many footers also include an app download link, referral links, and contact information.

Here's a helpful graphic that walks you through the entire process, from top to bottom:

email-design-checklist