Email marketing design tips for small businesses – Do’s & Dont’s

In today’s blog I am going to share with you a couple of email marketing design tips that will help you create more effective email marketing campaigns. Before starting my analysis, I would like to highlight two things.

First of all,  there is no such thing as one-rule-fits-all marketing activity. What works for one sector might not work for another. I have done email marketing for many years for various sectors, such as the education; automotive; legal and digital sectors, and every single case was unique.

When it came to  email marketing in the legal sector, for example, relating to lawyers, financial and legal directors; I found out that the fewer graphics and design items you use, the higher the conversation rate. It seems that Finance Directors like more “to the point” emails than flashy designs with call to action buttons!

In the examples below I am going to show you some emails I receive in my inbox lately. These emails contained small mistakes that could cost you money, time and conversion rates. Here’s how to avoid them:

1) Make sure your email is Mobile Optimised. This is a no brainer really, not in 2014! Some 45 percent of emails are opened on a mobile device, and having a non-responsive template is like ignoring half of your email list. If you don’t have HTML skills, it’s not too much of a problem. There are many places that sell really nice email marketing templates – ready to go – at affordable prices. I personally use Themeforest email templates  and you can get some really decent deals with them – such as this one for example where you can get a set of 120 email templates for $12.

Here is an example of how a non-responsive email looks on a mobile:


2) Remember to keep your text short and sweet. People like to read their emails on the go. Try to avoid spending thousands of lines writing an email to your list unless your target group demands so.

3) Make sure that all your pictures are rendered properly for mobile devices. Images rendering badly or not at all will result with high bounce rates. I personally recommend my clients to use JpegMini although you can use Paint in Photoshop as well.

4) Make them open your email again by keeping the first paragraph interesting and to the point. Try to highlight the reason you sent the email and assure your readers that keep reading that the email will give them their answers. This works better for text-based emails like the example I published for the legal sector. This way you increase the likelihood of them not deleting your email and keeping it to read it once they reach their desktop. In a recent campaign the emails that led me to a sales conversion were opened an average of three times.

5) For subscribed email newsletters, make sure you optimise your emails as much as possible. Bear in mind the reason they subscribed to your newsletter in the first place. Was it an offer? A blog post they read and liked? Were they just navigating your web site? If so, on which page did they decide to subscribe to your newsletter? If someone  subscribed to your testimonials page where you have numerous case studies of how you solved a problem for different clients, then it is wise to include in  your email a new post/case study of your achievements. This will build further trust and “stick” your brand in their minds for when they need your services.

A good example of a subscription-based offer :

6) Make sure you don’t do rookie mistakes such as send a personalised email to the wrong recipient or post it on the wrong date. As you can see below, I got an email one early Sunday morning with the subject line “Let’s get this week started” and a tagline “Happy Monday”.

wrong email date

7) Track every single URL you include in your email in Google Analytics “Campaigns” tab by using Google’s URL builder. All you have to do is add the information Google asks about your campaign and then replace the original link, with the one generated by Google. Once you do that, any activity happening on your web site as a direct result from your emails campaigns will be automatically recorded on your Google Analytic’s “Campaign” tab. You can then compare your reader’s behavior on a month to month basis, see the differences between “New” & “Returning” and draw solid conclusions as to how you move forward with your content and offerings.

8) Use strong call to actions. Until you see an increase in conversion rates, messages such as “sign up today”, “get it now”, “join us”, “join now”, “go”, “enter your email” should always be used.

9) Use the right colors in alignment with your brand’s logos and web site colors. Here is a very good article about Psychology of color in marketing you can get some ideas from.

10) Remember that email is one more tool in your online multi-channel strategy. I have found email marketing is a great way to drive people to my brand’s Facebook page where I can engage in more detailed discussions and answer queries. Always remember why you use the channel you use and what the purpose is of email in your marketing strategy.


If you are still someone who likes to send “cold” emails to every single address you posses, try to be honest! At least when it comes to your real name:


Did you ever received a funny email, or have tips to share? Would love to hear your thoughts.

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