Email Best Practices
A Few Email Facts
According to a report by the Nielsen Norman Group (a leader in the user experience field), users spend 51 seconds reading the average newsletter. 35% of the time, participants skimmed only a small part of the newsletter.
Building an email newsletter is not like building a web site. While web browsers are increasing their standards compliance, many email clients have become stagnant -- and in the case of Outlook, have even taken a step backward.
It’s very possible that an email will display differently on different devices or with different email providers. Some may handle spacing around images or in table cells differently, and others automatically remove code if it's not done a particular way. We link to a browser-based version in the header as a fallback.
- There is no typical “open rate” (percentage of people who open your email). If your open rate is between 15 – 35%, that’s probably around average.
According to CreateSend, mobile users now account for over 40% of their email opens.
Image-based emails can be seen as an easy way to delivering a pretty design and avoid potential display differences. For mobile devices, this is the opposite of what you want; issues can quickly arise, including:
- Since mobile screens are smaller, users may have to scroll quite a bit to see your entire message.
- Screen-reading software cannot read any text contained in an image.
- If the image gets compressed further by the email client, etc. readability issues may come up.
- Font size cannot be (easily) increased when the text is part of an image.
- Many mobile contracts have data usage caps, and users may choose not to download images as a result.
Mobile network speed may vary significantly based on the phone's location.
The new standardized-look templates are responsive, meaning they are designed to adjust their appearance based on a device’s screen resolution. However, not all mobile mail apps can correctly display the template yet.
In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to increase mobile usability. Avoid complicated graphics. Condense content so that it loads quickly and can be read easily. Include alt tags with your images.
When copying and pasting from Microsoft Word, take a few extra seconds and paste it into a text editor (like Notepad) first, then copy from the text editor to CreateSend. Just like with the CMS editor, the extra step will eliminate the risk of hidden code affecting your ability to format text.
If a column is narrow, don’t make its content too lengthy -- blocks of text can be quite difficult to read.
Have someone else proofread your content! “Tunnel vision” can cause you to overlook content issues; a fresh set of eyes can double-check for typos, incomplete sentences and broken links.
Use CreateSend's manual test feature. The limit is 5 recipients at a time, but you can send multiple batches as necessary. Also, test-send to as many email clients/services as possible: Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, home ISP email (if applicable)
Just like on websites, make links noticeable. Don’t override the specified link color so they blend in, and avoid underlining text that isn’t a link.
Want to archive your newsletters? Consider creating a page on your CMS site with links to the web versions of each issue. (Use the browser-based version of each newsletter; remember, these links can be found by clicking the “Can’t view this newsletter...?” link in the header.)
- CreateSend automatically provides detailed reports for every message sent. These statistics can help you determine which links were clicked on the most, how many recipients opened your email, how many clicked a link, etc. This information can help identify your most popular content.
Page last modified March 19, 2013