Not every email needs a design with lots of moving parts to catch the eye of a prospect. Emails require the correct design. Whether that is a graphic-heavy piece or just text with a signature depends on the industry, and even more importantly, the individual receiving the piece. Both types of email – designed layouts and embellished letters – both have their pros and cons, and they both work in the right situation.
In general, designed emails tend to be used more in B2C applications than in B2B (although that’s not a hard and fast rule). The reason? Graphics are great at telling a story and establishing a brand – a tactic that tends to be more effective in B2C industries than B2B. The design is then used to reinforce the overall message and the “story” of the business. Outside of B2C, this tactic tends to work well in nurture programs where images make a larger impact because addressees are at least already familiar with the sender and won’t get distracted trying to identify the reason for the message.
That doesn’t mean B2C businesses should go overboard with images. It’s still very important that the message is still communicated without the graphics interrupting the flow of the email. A good rule of thumb is to use a hero image that’s less than 250 pixels tall that still allows the reader to read the top paragraph when they glance at the email.
Too many images may also hurt an email’s spam ranking. If an email has a high image to text ratio, many email clients will dump it into the junk email folder, making it much less likely that the intended addressee will see it. Also remember that no matter how good a designed email is, it’s just as important, if not more so, to consider the variables that influence open rates, such as subject lines, sender’s information, and your first paragraph. If no one is actually opening your emails, then a design doesn’t do much good.
Compared to a designed email, an embellished letter, one that looks like a standard email sent by an individual, can often provide something of a personal touch to email. Because of this kind of message’s brevity, this email tactic tends to work well for high-level executives and c-level individuals who do not have time to consider a complex message. These emails can also be a little more down to earth and conversational compared to other email tactics.
On the other hand, embellished letter emails also work well as action responders – the automated response emails sent out after an individual takes a certain action on a website or downloads a content piece. This tactic makes a company seem like it is giving personalized attention to someone who may just be visiting a website, which can be a nice first touch.
There are very few hard and fast rules in email design, and standards often change from year to year. If you want to stand out from the hundreds of emails that someone receives daily, it’s never good to just follow the crowd. Sometimes, an open depends entirely on “zigging while everyone else zags”.
Tip: No matter what kind of email design you decide to use, you’ll want to ensure that it’s optimized for mobile because 15% to 70% of email opens (depending on your audience) happen on mobile.
Remember, so much of email design depends on the audience and the persona you’re targeting. No matter the style, design needs to be thought through carefully by someone who understands the audience in order to get the highest engagement.