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How should I design my emails to maximize engagement?

It is not enough to have good inbox placement. Once your email reaches the inbox, it is important that it is designed to allow your subscriber to quickly decide its intent, how they benefit from the information, and what they need to do to take advantage of your offer.

A general guideline for designing your emails is to keep the design simple. Emails cluttered with multiple images, lots of text, and calls-to-action can take away your subscriber’s focus from what you are asking them to do.

While there are numerous design options available to marketers, the design layouts below are commonly used due to their effectiveness at encouraging and increasing subscriber engagement.

Inverted Triangle

The inverted triangle is probably the easiest design to implement and is best when using a strong headline or image. This design uses the attraction of heavily weighted text or an image to grab a subscribers attention at the top of the email. The visual dominance of the top section then moves the reader’s eye to the middle section. The middle section should provide visual contrast to the content in the top section and convey any supporting content the subscriber may need to digest. The middle section also sets up the subscriber to anticipate the upcoming call to action. The call to action should be the end point of the triangle and be smaller of the first image or text, but larger than the supporting content above the call to action.

Z Pattern

Z pattern designs are best used for emails that have sparse written content and the focus is on guiding the user through the simple content to a call-to-action. It is also beneficial for subscribers that read from the left side of the page to the right side of the page and from top to bottom because it follows their natural reading pattern. Keep your subscriber’s reading pattern in mind as this may not be ideal for all languages.

The first element should be something that grabs the subscriber’s attention using visual hierarchy techniques to create attraction. It should be the most important aspect of your email with the topic or message you want to convey. The second element should introduce the concept of the content that the subscriber is about to scan and digest. Along the diagonal line or where the third element is located is where you place some explanatory content.This content should be concise so the subscriber can quickly move to the 4th element, which is where you place the call-to-action.

F Pattern

For content that has more text that conveys information rather then images and calls to action, using the F pattern design is best. The pattern is often used for newsletters.

The 9 points in the design are places where a subscriber’s eyes follow with the content displayed in the email with the content displayed in the email. These points aren’t necessarily points of interaction, but more to draw in the subscriber’s focus.

  • Between points 1 and 2 should have an element of visual dominance to attract a subscriber’s attention.
  • Points 3 through 8 should have supporting content that complements the content between points 1 and 2.
  • Calls to action can be placed in the F pattern, but those should be placed between points 7 and 9.

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