Before and After: Transforming Email Design with the 3 P's

EJ McGowan
by EJ McGowan 16 Jan, 2023
One of the hottest trends on social media today is publishing before-and-after photos. Hashtags like #TransformationTuesday and #ThrowbackThursday often accompany pictures on social that show dramatic before-and-after improvements of people, places and, yes, even things (perhaps even an email template).

If marketers want to craft compelling, memorable campaigns that cut through the noise and transform the email marketing experience, chances are a digital makeover is in order. By capturing a few old emails and optimizing them for the three P's of email, seeing genuine improvements with a before-and-after makeover has never been easier.


[P]resent a Clear Call-to-Action

It has been said time and again that the human attention span is decreasing rapidly; while the exact time is debatable, it is clearly becoming tougher for marketers to convince subscribers to act on a message.

Email marketers need to be crystal clear in presenting their call-to-action (CTA); if the CTA is hidden below the scroll line, extremely wordy or in a long paragraph of text, it is time for a makeover.

Before a marketer writes a CTA, it is critical to think about what type of action the consumer should take. Consider phrases like "buy now" to help readers appropriately respond. In order to create a clear and concise message, keep the call-to-action to just one sentence. A shorter CTA allows readers to understand the task at hand quickly and eliminates confusing jargon. Additionally, try formatting CTAs with bold and italic fonts to differentiate them from body text.


[P]repare for Mobile

There is no question that more emails are being read today on mobile devices, and this method of viewing is only becoming more widespread. Gone are the days of designing for desktops; adaptive email marketers must make these small screens their biggest priorities by re-doubling efforts and focusing on how to best facilitate mobile content consumption.

The first step to building a mobile-first approach is implementing responsive design.

Responsive design tools (often included in email marketing services) help senders create the most optimal viewing experience on any device by rendering emails properly to the receiving screen, allowing easy navigation and minimal resizing.

In order to design for all platforms, always focus on a vertical layout as this not only allows for more information to be provided before the scroll line, but also ensures emails will be mobile compatible.


[P]rioritize Space

Images do add to the viewing experience, but there is a fine line between using images to convey a message and overwhelming readers with entirely too many graphics. Designing an email that is too heavy with images not only delays the time it takes for a message to load, but can also send emails directly to the spam folder. While impressionable subject lines help catch subscribers' eyes in a crowded inbox, the content and structure of an email is key to keeping subscribers reading and acting on a message.

For a marketer's next email, they should begin with incorporating text and a CTA at the very top of the message. This allows a reader to quickly see what the main message is while waiting for graphics to load. In addition to placement of text, having a balance of text and images that pleases readers is imperative. Spammers often hide their messages in graphics to try and beat the spam filter; because of this, engines are trained to not send emails heavy in images to inboxes. In order to find the perfect balance of text and graphics for a subscriber list, enterprises will want to utilize A/B split testing and see what works best.


Keep Pace

When designing emails, it can be easy to fall into the routine of using the same format or template. However, in order to keep a subscriber base engaged, it is critical that marketers keep pace with the changing times and adapt their campaigns to reflect the latest trends while maintaining a cohesive design. Following the tips above will ensure a successful email makeover that is bound to leave subscribers engaged.

EJ McGowan, general manager of Campaigner, has more than 25 years of experience in the software industry with expertise in building highly available, scalable SaaS-based solutions.