The 5 Don’ts Of Email Marketing Design


If you invest in your email marketing strategy, you'll want to avoid falling foul of these design faux-pas!

Thrashing out a few friendly words in plain text might be fine practice for your average email to a friend or business colleague. However, when it comes to your email marketing campaign, your design strategy ought to be a bit more robust. 

Creating an email for marketing purposes is all about design quality. In other words, how the message is presented is as important as the words used to communicate your call to action (CTA). The key to effective email design is to prioritize user experience and avoid the major pitfalls.

Let’s take a look at the five don’ts of email design: 

1. Avoid image-only emails 

Images might provide you with some consistency in the presentation of your email, but image-heavy campaigns aren’t practical when it comes to our multi-device world of immediate gratification. There are many reasons why image-only emails are not ideal for email marketing strategy; here are just a few: 

  • Greater chance the email will end up in the spam folder 
  • The image can’t be displayed on some major email clients 
  • Images can take too much time to load and guzzle mobile data 
  • No ability to use pre-header preview text 

All in all, it’s best to steer clear of image-only campaigns. 

2. Don’t include too many CTAs 

You want your CTA buttons to be few in number and incredibly obvious. One or two clear CTA buttons, with a header and sub-headers designed to hook the recipient, is all you really need. You should also keep the number of links within the body of the email to a minimum. 

3. Avoid non-responsive email templates 

Over 70% of emails sent are now opened on a mobile device, and this number will only continue to grow. Ideally, you should be using a fixed responsive layout, a fluid layout, or a combination of the two to ensure you’re not standing out for all the wrong reasons. The right format for your email can vary from campaign to campaign, but with dotdigital’s drag-and-drop email builder and responsive templates, choosing the best design for you can save time and energy. 

4. Don’t hide the unsubscribe link 

Ideally, you want to keep unsubscribes to a minimum, but this aim should be realized in your marketing strategy, and not by holding people hostage. 

Without a clear unsubscribe option, your email is more likely to be marked as spam, which could damage your reputation and your chances of continuing your email campaign. 

Avoid this unnecessary outcome by including a clear unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email. 

5. Don’t stray from your branding 

The sophistication of today’s email marketing platforms has spoilt us for choice when it comes to color and design; 

it can be easy to get lost in a world of creativity and jazzy font styles. However, this can cause you to (inadvertently) ignore branding in favor of experimentation. 

Branding is critical to your campaign’s success. People are inundated with emails every day which they’ll sift through at speed, only opening and responding to those that come from brands they recognize and trust. If your brand doesn’t stand out, you stand to lose out. 

When it comes down to it, email marketing design strategy is all about the recipient’s point of view. Positioning yourself from the customer’s perspective in an email marketing campaign helps you to consider what they would want to see from a trusted brand. Next time you tackle your email marketing design, stand for a moment in the recipient’s shoes – you’ll find it much easier to work out what they want to receive, and in what format they want to receive it. 

Get started with email design essentials 

Avoid falling prey to simple mistakes! Check out our top tips for getting email design right, every time.

Email marketing design essentials

Special thanks to our friends at dotdigital for their insights on this topic.
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