Email is often understood as a copy-driven medium, but the design, layout and overall creative elements all combine to complement the text in order to produce a message. To make that message as effective and engaging as possible, here are some tips from Silverpop's recent white paper "10 Email Creative Tips for Boosting Opens, Clicks and ROI":
1. Review Click Heat Maps
Every link in an email is a call to action, so you're advised to use "click heat maps" to analyze previously run campaigns and email programs to learn where prospects' eyes go within these messages and the call to action that they take.
Next, get rid of all the nonessential links and distractions and make sure to place the primary call to action in the most prominent area based on the heat map review.
2. Keep Mobile Top of Mind
Doesn't matter if you're a B-to-C or B-to-B marketer, your prospects are checking email on their mobile phones more than ever. Be sure to create a positive experience for them by using alt tags, keeping emails less than 600 pixels wide, and placing key messaging in the top-left corner.
In addition, a new best practice is using style sheets that adjust the size of images and text to optimize them for the screen size.
3. Enhance the Social-Sharing Experience
Social icons are a dime a dozen these days, so make sure you truly have share-worthy content. If so, design the entire message around the sharing concept to create a rewarding experience for the prospect.
Create a short, focused email that revolves around a single subject and include icons to join social networks in your messages ("Like us") and invite recipients to share content ("Share with Facebook friends"). Don't forget to use both graphical icons and text in your social calls to action.
Bear in mind that a previous Silverpop study revealed that there is no optimal number of social-sharing links to include, nor is there an ideal place to put them. In other words, test both and be sure the social network pages they link to integrate well with all your marketing channels.
Ethan Boldt is the chief content officer of DirectMarketingIQ, the research division of the Target Marketing Group and publisher of special reports and how-to guides, including "All About Email Creative." He can be contacted at email@example.com.