This playbook’s objectives are to:
- Establish baseline engagement metrics to track design improvements.
- Develop a design improvement plan.
- Expand design analysis for your next campaign.
- For an introductory look at Everest’s Design & Content, please read:
- If you are a new Everest customer with no prior relationship with Validity, complete onboarding to ensure you are familiar with navigating and using Everest.
- If you were a Return Path or 250ok customer and are moving to Everest, complete your migration process.
- Ensure you have completed the Everest Basic Set Up Guide.
- To determine your device allocation and to get the most visibility into engagement performance metrics related to your content, complete the advanced setup guides.
- Everest Advanced Setup Guide 2: Sending Reputation (FBL Complaints)
- Everest Advanced Setup Guide 3: Engagement (Pixel and ESP/sending platform integration)
Important! Be sure you know the subscription allotments based on your service tier and plan according to your sending frequency and the size of your email database. You can find your subscription information by navigating to: My Everest>Account Settings>Subscription.
- Common email design challenges
- How Design & Content fits into your process
- Important metrics related to effective design
- Establishing baseline engagement metrics to track design improvements
- Creating a design improvement plan
- How to improve email design using Everest
- What to do next
Common sender challenges associated with email design are:
- We want to know which devices and email clients are used the most by our subscribers so we can focus our design efforts beyond just the major email clients.
- We want a simple way to compare designs as part of our A/B testing strategy.
- We want team visibility into different design options and issues.
By optimizing email design using Everest’s Design & Content feature, senders see improved results with:
- Increased Open rates
- Increased Click rates
- Decreased Complaint rates
- Decreased Unsubscribe rates
- Streamlining of internal workflows
A traditional email marketing process consists of three phases: Pre-Send, In-Flight, and Monitoring. Using Design & Content within the pre-send phase helps to ensure your campaigns render properly across mobile devices and email clients.
- Inform your email campaign strategy with Everest’s Competitive Intelligence
- Plan campaign
- Select target subscriber list
- Design campaign
- Validate target subscriber list using Everest’s List Validation
- Test campaign design using Everest’s Design & Content
- A/B test design
- Send campaign to subscribers and the Everest seed list
- Send both your A and B tests to the Everest seed list
- View your campaign’s inbox placement, spam, and missing results using Everest’s Inbox Placement
- View A and B test inbox placement results
- Monitor engagement metrics using Everest’s Engagement, your ESP, or internal sending platform.
- Monitor sending reputation metrics using Everest’s Monitoring to understand the deliverability impact.
Tip: You can test your designs at any point in the pre-send process. Some design teams use the Design & Content feature to test various design ideas during the creative process or test the final design to identify potential problem areas. Be sure to plan how you use Design & Content based on your subscription allotment.
Content related engagement data is visible in the Monitoring>Engagement and Monitoring>Reputation features when using the Everest engagement pixel and integrating Everest with your ESP or sending platform.
- Open rate
- Complaint rate
Available from your ESP or internal sending platform
- Click rate
- Unsubscribe rate
In a spreadsheet, record the baseline engagement metrics for Opens, Clicks, Complaints, and Unsubscribes. Use historical data for your baseline metrics if available from your ESP or sending platform. If you do not have historical data, establish a baseline by calculating an average of your first five campaigns sent to Everest (be sure you are set up with the tracking pixel and ESP integration). Include other metrics important to your business as needed, such as average order value.
As you make improvements to and fix important design issues, compare performance results against the baseline metrics to gauge your progress. If you engage in A/B testing, record the results of your tests to compare with your baseline results as well.
The primary goal of your design is to support your overall engagement strategy and ultimately lead to a conversion (purchase, donation, sign-up). For this playbook, we focus on creating a design improvement plan to increase engagement.
If you have numerous email streams, prioritize which designs to focus on first based on performance or importance. Look at both marketing and transactional emails. If you prefer, focus on improving the design for your next few campaigns.
1. Create a reusable template library or use available templates through your ESP. An email template library helps speed up the creative process with numerous designs known to have clean HTML and that are proven to have higher engagement rates based on past results.
- Make sure responsive design is used to keep the templates mobile friendly.
- Review and test the templates regularly to ensure they encompass new design techniques and are kept fresh for your subscribers.
2. Sign up for emails with other companies directly in or related to your industry. You can get a lot of inspiration by analyzing other design techniques and modifying them to fit your particular style.
3. Adopt design cues for your layout and structure known to encourage engagement. As you build your template library, use designs known to improve engagement as your foundation and adjust them as needed to suit your individual style and business goals.
4. Incorporate visual hierarchy elements into your design. Guiding your reader's focus requires a mix of skill and artistic instinct. Within your templates, use a variety of visual hierarchy techniques to encourage engagement.
5. Add new content types to your templates. Most marketing email is comprised of a mix of images and text. Many successful marketers incorporate other content types such as video, animated gifs and other interactive elements such as rollover effects, radio buttons, and tooltips.
6. A/B test design variants to find out what resonates best with your subscribers. For example:
- Call-to-action (CTA) placement and wording
- Animated gif versus a static image
- Image sizing and placement
- Design layout
- Visual hierarchy elements
7. Use Everest's Design & Content feature as you execute on your plan to ensure the design elements render as expected.
- Your layout should render well for all desktop, mobile, and webmail email clients
- Your visual elements and colors should display well in both standard and dark modes
- All images and links should be valid
- Spam filter pre-checks should show minimal issues
8. Track the performance of your design improvements and compare the results to your baseline metrics.
- Add content designs that get good results to your content library. Note other factors about well performing content as they relate to your segments or important times of the year. You may find that certain segments respond to some designs better than others.
As you make design decisions, be sure to think about how the designs will enhance your overall content strategy including the use of personalization.
When testing your design using Everest’s Design and Content feature, be sure to send the test from your normal sending infrastructure. Sending tests from a personal email account does not give optimal results and could lead to issues when you send your campaign to subscribers.
If you need guidance or a refresher on what to check in your design prior to sending it to subscribers, please read:
For your next campaign:
Check renders, images, and links
- Login to Everest
- Navigate to Pre-Send>Design & Content
- Click Design Settings
- Select or change any design renders and click Save
- Click New Design Test
- Paste the HTML from your next campaign and click Create Test with your actual subject line
- On the Design Tests page, click on your test’s subject line
- Review the design renders on all applicable devices
- If you implemented the engagement pixel (recommended), the open percentage for each device grouping is located on the right side of the page
- Ensure your message renders properly in standard and dark mode. Dark mode colors and contrast may make some content unreadable.
8. Locate the Images Valid tile and click on the details arrow
9. On the Images tab, note the images size and load time
- The more images you have, the longer it takes to load. Some subscribers may delete or mark a message as spam if the images take too long to load.
- Some MBPs will reject your mail if image size totals more than 10MB
10. Review the Images results grid for Valid images with appropriate Alt Text and no errors or blocklistings.
11. Click the Links tab
12. Review the Links results grid for Valid links with appropriate link text and no errors or blocklistings.
- Unsubscribe links are not checked to avoid one-click unsubscribes
13. Close the window when finished
Check Spam tests
1. Click Pre-Flight Checks and select Spam Tests
2. Click New Spam Test
3. Click Email Your Test
- You have the option to send via SMTP if you have set up your ESP or sending platform integration
4. Open your ESP or email sending platform and send a test email to all listed email addresses
5. Click I’ve sent my campaign after you send your test email
6. On the results grid, click on the details arrow of your test
7. Review the results
- Identify any potential problem areas
- Ensure your SPF, DKIM, and DMARC checks pass
- If you don’t have DMARC implemented yet, no record is found
- Check for potential filter issues
- Click Show Diagnostics for additional insights on the filter’s spam scores
Mailbox Provider Results
- Check for spam placement and if there are any additional authentication issues at the specific mailbox providers
- If you have any blocklistings, try to identify and fix the cause prior to requesting removal
- Make sure all blocklistings are resolved before sending your next campaign
Share test results (Optional)
Share your tests with other Everest users by clicking on Settings within the Design Tests tab. You can only share with Everest users set up within your account. Sharing test results is a good idea for communicating design issues and A/B test results.
Enable sharing by clicking on Share Test Results and clicking the Sharing Enabled toggle button.
1. Proceed to the advanced Design & Content playbook.
2. Continue reading our other Everest playbooks to help take your email marketing program to the next level.