By Joanna Fletcher
Emails today use stable HTML coding to create visually appealing messages with all the branding and detail that customers expect from good companies. Providing that you value their time and attention through design and great content, HTML emails will strengthen your relationship.
Any email must be short to have a chance of being read by today's harried consumers. Inboxes are always full, so the subject line has to attract attention. Effective emails today begin with linked highlights or headlines to help a reader navigate quickly to their point of interest.
Although HTML can create Web page-like emails, emails have the additional hurdle of spam filters to clear and multiple email readers to display on. Using a single column or old-style table to create blocks of content is popular because WYSIWYG —what you see is what you get — regardless of the customer's setup.
Having the ability to create in HTML can encourage us to saturate our emails with color and intricate graphics. However, simple designs are effective and easy to navigate, especially to our jaded eyes. More designs today have black backgrounds or a very neutral color palette with judicious highlighting. The classic newspaper-style black and white, using only underlined blue links or small blocks of highlighting, is also making a comeback.
Making an email look more like a piece of paper may seem ridiculous, but subconsciously it can give the impression of longevity, quality or exclusivity. Emails with texture or distressing look more “real,” and something with visual interest at the top of the page will appear in a preview screen and spark curiosity.
Many readers will not be able to view your HTML images since they are blocked by their email program and need an extra click to display, or they are reading your email on their BlackBerry or other handheld device. Make sure headlines and links are not displayed in images and include links to a Web-page version and a text-only version of your email.
Since many programs will block any video content, the first frame of any movie or animation must deliver enough of a message to encourage a reader to click through to the Web page and view the whole story.
Technology has progressed to the point that even the smallest businesses can keep track of individual customers. We can personalize every email we send, both in the subject line and in the body of the email itself, to build those customer relationships.
Small companies are also using that database to target customers based on their purchase history, then crafting offers and promotions specifically for them, just like Amazon. Modern email newsletters remind customers of their previous contact with the company and point them to relevant offers.
Unsubscribe options should be big and easy to find to avoid alienating past customers who still refer on to their friends. Beating today's spam filters means avoiding complaints about unwanted email.
About the Author
Joanna Fletcher is a netizen who has lived, worked, and played in virtual space for most of her life. Her entrepreneurial flair is topped only by her tolerance for failure.