As part of our inaugural Foundations series, this is the third of six posts on managing a lead generation email campaign from start to finish.
Previously, we covered how to determine a strategy for your email campaign and how to build a list. Today, we get to the fun stuff - designing your email. Even with an ironclad strategy and a hyper-targeted list, if your email creative isn't up to snuff, results could be lackluster. To say email design is important is quite the understatement.
First, let's get a big misconception out of the way. Your email should look good - but it doesn't need to be flashy and over the top design-wise. Madison Avenue this is not.
Here are some key things to keep in mind when designing not only a good-looking but effective email:
HTML versus text: You have a choice when it comes to the format in which you send an email - HTML or plain text. There are pros and cons to both - but most commercial email you receive these days is in HTML format because it offers much more flexibility than plain text and increases response rates (more than 30% according to email marketing firm Constant Contact). With HTML emails, you can track the number of people who open your email (open rate) and also control much more of the design including images, fonts, colors, links and the general layout. A plain text email, while simple, does not allow you to track open rate and affords zero flexibility when it comes to design, since it's...well, plain text. But there are merits to both. We'd recommend HTML, but if you have a specific need for a plain text look (say a simple communication from your CEO to top customers), you can code an HTML email to look like a plain text email, but reap the HTML benefits such as measuring open rate.