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The 5 Most Common Killers of Good Email Design

Email campaigns can be derailed for all sorts of reasons that can include technical errors, programming glitches or simply be the result of very human mistakes that you as marketer might make.

Luckily though, most of the most prevalent email problems are easy to fix so long as you know what to look out for before you do a mass mailing. And to make things even easier for you, we’ve included the top 5 of these email design killers right here in a handy “hit list” that both explains how each of them works but also recommends some quick fixes.

Also, before we get down to business, you might also want to check out this much more visually interactive video presentation with the same information below, in case you absorb information better via video. It was researched and created by the email marketing professionals at Reachmail.

1. Loud Colors

Loud colors distract and if they’re loud enough, they’ll also cause your entire message to be taken much less seriously. They’re the equivalent of a clown giving a speech at a business conference; no matter how serious his words, who’s going to pay attention with that shiny outfit and the nose?

Avoid loud colors in your email message and landing page design. Instead, stick to more muted professional tones such as those suggested here and focus interest on the beauty of what you’re trying to say.

2. Design Distortions

Design distortions are insidious things that not only ruin your core message but also conceal themselves from detection until it’s already too late. They’re something you have to be on the lookout for well in advance.

What are we talking about? Quite simply, you put together a great looking email template or landing page design and then send it out to your mailing list, only to have the whole thing be unreadable because what you designed doesn’t load properly or at all on other types of mail servers, browsers or screen types.

Avoid this problem by testing every single one of your email campaigns across several different dummy accounts on assorted major mail servers and then test those messages on these mail servers in different popular browsers and on different screen types ranging from those of desktop PCs to smartphones and tablets in both Windows and Mac.

3. The Red X

In a way that’s similar to what happens with design distortions, the Red X usually doesn’t make an appearance until our marketing emails are already being viewed by your subscribers.

This problem occurs when your message depends too much on images to convey its selling points and then gets sent to mail servers whose users have disabled image loading! Obviously, this is a serious problem.

Avoid the Red X simply by making sure that you don’t even bother to depend on images to convey your core message, and if you absolutely must have an image or two in your email message body, then make sure it at least has an effective and descriptive ALT tag attached to it.

4. Pixels

Pixels are another image related email marketing problem and one more reason to avoid using images in the first place. This little problem appears when your marketing message incorporates photos and other images that don’t scale properly on different screens or browsers. Thus, instead of looking clear, they scale down and get crushed into a pixelated blur or they scale up too far and distort into a pixelated mess.

Avoid pixels by avoiding images to begin with but, again, if you insist on using images, then test them to see if they resize upwards or downwards well enough to stay clear.

5. Wordiness

Wordiness is the easiest to avoid and easiest to spot of the major email campaign killers we’re discussing here. As its name implies, it refers to messages that are too long and winding and take forever to arrive at their main selling points and value proposition.

Don’t waste your readers’ time to the point where they get distracted from what you’re offering. Instead, be concise and give them the main points of your marketing message in a way that quickly underscores its value proposition.