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Go Mobile & Go Dark: Optimizing your Email Design

As the art and science of email marketing continues to evolve, marketers are using a variety of techniques to attract and hold their readers’ engagement and interaction with the brand. But which trends are proving to be most effective in sparking reader interest and commanding attention long enough to make a memorable impression?

In addition to Dr. Digital’s expert design advice—focus on signal to noise ratio, compelling imagery, and simple layouts—other trendy ways to enhance the impact of email include the use of bold shapes and colors, awe-inspiring gradients, animated features, and 3D imagery. But before you jump on the trends . . . be sure you’ve got the basics down.

The following two techniques are basically must-haves in today’s email marketing environment.

Mobile optimization

In a previous blog post, we talked about minimalism in logo design. A big reason for this trend is the focus on mobile-first—designing first for the small screen then building out design elements for the laptop or desktop.

As much as we love our laptops, we love our phones even more. On the go or at home, we are likely to read email on our phone more often than on our laptop or desktop computers. Gmail, for example, has 1.5 billion active users today. Seventy-five percent of those access their accounts on mobile devices.

Whether it’s to check in on business and personal communications, make everyday (or occasional splurgy) purchases, or keep on top of our schedules, it’s no wonder we’re checking our phones on the regular.

The benefits of mobile optimization in email design are equally clear for marketers. Mobile-optimized emails deliver more clicks, conversions, and satisfied subscribers, as well as higher brand reputation and ROI (Hubspot). To create emails that are effective across both large and small screens, consider these tried-and-true design rules:

  • Write a brief, eye-catching subject line.
  • Keep your copy concise and engaging.
  • Choose clean and large fonts.
  • Be selective with visual elements and colors.
  • Use a single column layout.
  • Place optimized content in the upper left corner.
  • Create touch-friendly buttons.
  • Position your CTA prominently.
  • Make your design inclusive with alt text for images.
  • Lastly. . . let your design breathe! White space looks polished and inviting.
     

Dark mode compatibility

Apple’s 2018 launch of Dark Mode—a color scheme that uses light and/or brightly colored text, graphics, and icons on a dark background— spurred a major change in email marketing design. More and more people began gravitating to dark mode for a variety of reasons. It can be visually attractive, provide a better user experience, reduce eye strain through less blue light exposure, and reduce battery drain. With thoughtful design, dark mode also can help make an email stand out from the rest—adding an element of elegance to the design and effectiveness to the messaging.

Think about these best practices when designing for dark mode:

  • Design for light mode first, then convert to dark mode to protect consistency.
  • Use off-white and dark gray for an easy-on-the-eyes design.
  • Choose colors that stand out but are not jarring.
  • Avoid red elements that are difficult to read against a dark background.
  • Use images with transparent backgrounds.
  • Create a simple design; dark mode gives the illusion of a smaller space.
  • Always include an option to switch between light and dark modes to meet everyone’s needs and preferences.
     

Getting these two practices down can help up your email readership significantly. And as your brand evolves and you take advantage of the latest trends in email marketing design, keeping these basics in mind will lay the foundation for continued success.

Street Level Studio knows email marketing.

Dr. Digital showed us why email marketing is a vital part of your integrated marketing campaign. At Street Level Studio, our Marketo™ Certified Expert and the rest of our team can help you make the most effective email design choices. To keep your brand fresh and your customers active and engaged, reach out to us today.

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