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As one of the most integral tools to a large portion of email marketing campaigns, templates hold a unique position in the overarching content creation process. On one hand, slapping together a reusable template feels mundane or small in comparison to the rest of your outreach operations and procedures. However, failing to give this asset its due often leads to plenty of headaches and roadblocks as you begin to fire off messages. With this viewpoint guiding the way, let’s take a moment to talk about how to efficiently and effectively create the perfect template for your upcoming email marketing campaign.

Get to Know the Three Pillars of Template Design

In terms of template development, Small Business Trend’s Chaitra Vedullapalli points out that there’s no better place to kick off the conversation than with the “three pillars” of modern message design. Essentially, these ideals build upon two basic truths pertaining to most audiences – 66 percent of all messages are opened on mobile devices, and your inbox offerings generally only have about three seconds of viewing before the person on the other side of the screen decides to toss this digital message into the garbage.

So now that we know why the three pillars exist, let’s delve into the concepts that make up this trifecta. Vedullapalli lists these attributes as appropriate text size, tap functionality, and proper visual ratios. Most templates should fall into the 400×300 pixel range, with headline and body fonts clocking in at 22 and 14 point sizes, respectively. Tap functionality equates to templates that play well on touch-oriented mobile devices.

Naturally, firing on all of these points can be a little tricky, especially with an audience split between traditional desktops and mobile devices. However, with the advent of responsive coding and technology among templates, there’s nothing stopping your brand from relying on a template that fits the needs of every segment within your inbox viewership.

Concise and Precise Goes a Long Way

Additionally, Vedullapalli goes on to explain that great templates don’t leave room for long-winded body content, headings, or subheadings. The name of the game when it comes to effective email marketing content is to be as concise and precise with your writing as possible, so it makes sense to utilize a template that embodies this approach.

By getting ahead of the curve with a tight and streamlined template, you’ll intuitively enhance the quality of your content. Whether you’re a seasoned member of the community or just trying to get your foot in the door, it doesn’t take much to see that winning on both of these fronts is great for the health of your campaign.

Great Templates Are Visually Appealing

Outside of setting yourself up to develop meaningful content, Olivier Choron of Business 2 Community offers up the notion that your template also needs to have a flair for the visual in order to maximize its impact with viewers. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to jam photos and images into every email. In fact, using the same content this way doesn’t exactly fit into the template approach at all.

Instead, try to find minimal visuals and borders that don’t clog up bandwidth and screen space. This way, your viewers can enjoy an aesthetically pleasing and consistent experience that translates from one marketed message to the next. The best part about incorporating this take on visuals is that as you conduct more and more campaigns, you’ll have a greater number of templates and images to reuse and alter; thus saving you time and money during the development process.

Find a Spot for Personalization in Your Template

As one final piece of advice for creating the perfect template for your upcoming email marketing operations, Choron suggests finding a spot for personalization in your inbox content. Whether you start off the message with a friendly salutation, or delve a little deeper via working audience data into the body content of your email, letting these readers know that you’re offering more than just a thinly-veiled sales pitch is a great addition to your template strategy.

Obviously, working on this extra layer of personalization requires a strong email marketing system, or a team of experts who understand what it takes to integrate such connections between the base template and the product. However, if you’re able to excel with this process, in addition to the rest of what you’ve learned here, there’s no reason why your next campaign can’t utilize a strong template to win over the people that matter most to your brand.



The newsletter is the backbone of many email marketing campaigns – and for good reason. As one of the most effective methods for reaching an audience in the inbox, this form of content truly goes a long way with readers when implemented properly. Unfortunately, plenty of brands simply assume that newsletter success is a forgone conclusion, leading to suboptimal practices and swiftly diminishing returns. If you’re worried that your brand is in a rut in terms of benefits generated by this type of content, or that this piece of your marketing operations is heading in the wrong direction, take a moment to look over these five quick tips that can supercharge your next newsletter offering.

Always Add Value

In terms of pure impact, Jimmy Daly of Marketing Land explains that there’s no better place to start than with how much value you’re adding to the viewer equation. While some might see this concept from a purely fiscal perspective – coupons, discounts, etc. – adding value goes far beyond this approach. By providing unique and engaging content in your newsletter that enriches the reader, and leaving the sales pitch behind from time to time, your brand can differentiate itself as a valuable and important member of the increasingly crowded inbox scene.

Being Beautiful Goes a Long Way

Outside of giving your content direction an overhaul, focusing on the visuals that represent your newsletter can also go a long way with your email following. Revamping templates and supporting graphics not only shakes things up for the people on the other side of the screen, this approach can also help optimize the rendering and display of your inbox content.

Essentially, building beautiful newsletters in the modern world of email marketing requires finding harmony between stunning graphics and designs that port well to the mobile experience. It might take the help of trusted industry experts and a little trial and error via split testing, but finding the sweet spot where aesthetics meet performance can put this content in position to truly capture the attention of traditional and mobile viewers alike.

Explore Your Brand Story

If you’re looking for a different take on the newsletter experience, Daly goes on to suggest that exploring your brand story can help build a deeper relationship with the target audience. Whether you offer up an insider look at what’s going on behind the scenes, or delve into the personal experiences of members of your community, adding some of the human element to your newsletters serves as a powerful tool for building common ground with your brand’s readers.

Sure, getting personal does require a willingness to broach subjects that go beyond the status quo. However, if you’re able set aside this concern and take the conversation a step deeper than others via connecting on an even more meaningful level, you’ll be rewarded substantially by members of your email community who can’t wait for the next inbox installment.

Hit Your Audience with a Powerful Headline

Obviously, getting what’s going on below the fold in order is a big priority – nobody’s can question this motivating factor. However, Jeanne Jennings of ClickZ points out that if you don’t have a headline that jumps off the page and grabs the reader’s attention, there’s a very real possibility that you’re letting a significant number of viewers slip through the cracks.

A powerful headline is short, simple, and compliments the content that is held within the message. Aside from keeping things straightforward and to the point, Jennings also notes that utilizing a bit of personalization here and there also works well in terms of headline crafting and consumer reception.

Spread the Word

As you optimize and refine your newsletter using these methods and ideas, don’t be afraid to tell the digital world about your new take on this content. By interacting with your audience on social media, your branded blog, and other platforms, your organization can generate even more buzz about these offerings. Considering how important building organic reach is as part of an overarching email marketing campaign, taking the time to work on this front isn’t just good for your newsletters, it’s beneficial to all of the rest of your inbox initiatives as well.

At the end of the day, fixing or enhancing a newsletter doesn’t happen overnight. However, this doesn’t mean you should completely give up on trying to improve your operations completely. By putting what you’ve learned here to good use, there’s nothing that can stop your brand from truly fostering a deeper and more meaningful relationship with these readers via insightful and engaging newsletter content.



There’s no denying that email marketing is about as high impact a method as you can get when it comes to connecting with consumers across the digital landscape. However, results aren’t just guaranteed to everyone that fires off a marketed message. In fact, as the experts over at TechnologyAdvice Research point out in their industry report regarding email marketing mistakes, more than 30 percent of the people polled cited irrelevant email marketing content as the primary reason for flagging a brand with the spam tag. If you’re not interested in falling behind with the rest of the lagging members of the email marketing community and ending up in the trash folder, spend a few minutes reading over these quick tips that can keep your operations on the right side of the inbox divide.

Thinking Harder about Content

One of the most common ways to appear irrelevant or dated in terms of email marketing, according to Jeri Dube of Marketing Sherpa, comes from offering up boring or bland content. As great as it would be for consumers to lower their standards and accept every overt sales pitch and promotional email that asks for their money and provides little else, that’s just not how email marketing works these days.

If you really want to connect with consumers, it’s time to focus on value first and let the sales part take care of itself after you build a solid relationship with these viewers. From linking back to your blog posts – or other relevant posts from around the web – to providing insider insight into the latest breaking news, emphasizing the quality of your messages and offering up engaging material should serve as the cornerstone of your email marketing approach, regardless of your chosen industry or marketplace.

Understanding the Role of Timing

Outside of how you develop your content, there’s also the issue regarding the relevancy of your timing. For instance, failing to account for differences in time zones or firing off messages at odd hours of the day both inhibit the ability of your message to reach the person on the other side of the screen in a timely manner. Thankfully, if you start asking for some basic info from your audience during the sign-up process – like their physical locations and preferred mailing times – there’s nothing stopping your brand from tidying up any lingering relevancy issues on this front.

Your Contact List Is Diverse

Dube wraps up his take on the discussion by pointing out that another main point of contention regarding relevancy is the misconception that every member of your audience wants the same thing. Sure, common points of interest and parallels in behavior are most likely present among these individuals; after all, they all did end up on your contact list. However, the fact of the matter is that these people are still unique, and thus have plenty of subtle differences and desires that create further differentiation as you dig into the relevant data.

By employing the concept of segmentation, your brand can gain insight into the particular desires and needs of each subset of your audience, creating even more opportunities to stay relevant with these various groups. It is obviously more work to enact this kind of strategy, but when compared to painting the portrait of your contact list with broad, sweeping strokes, it’s easy to see how pinpoint segmentation offers up a reward that’s well worth the effort.

Keep Your Layout out of the Stone Age

Finally, Dan Bond of Econsultancy explains that relevancy concerns also affect the visual templates associated with your marketed messages. Essentially, appearing dated with unresponsive or bland selections not only hinders the aesthetic appeal of your content, it can also put a damper on the pure functionality of the message – particularly depending on the formatting and target browser or mail app.

While going big with flashy graphics and embedded images seems like a strong response to this concern, you’re much better off spending some time testing out templates and themes that load quickly, keep the viewer focused on the call-to-action (CTA), and translate well to as many mobile platforms as possible. Thankfully, subscribing to the aforementioned segmentation approach can help smooth out the testing and development of these visuals, as well as any later attempts at template optimization. With this tool in hand, as well as the rest of what you’ve picked up from this post, you’ll be well on your way to making a living on the cutting edge of email marketing, all while the competition struggles to stay relevant and generate results at the tail end of the pack.


There’s definitely not a lot of love lost between the worlds of email and print marketing. After all, with the rise of this form of digital advertising and the fact that more brands than ever want to connect with consumers via the inbox, it’s easy to see why newspapers and other publications are feeling the pinch when it comes to the dipping value of open ad space. However, just because email marketing is the current top dog doesn’t mean that we can’t learn a thing or two from the more traditional variations of connecting with customers. With this in mind, let’s dig into the concept of “above the fold” marketing and find out if it has a spot in your next campaign.

Understanding the Concept Behind “Above the Fold”

For those readers out there that aren’t familiar with print marketing lingo, it’s necessary to establish a proper definitely of what “above the fold” means before diving headfirst into the discussion. As Web 1’s Internet marketing glossary explains, headlines and advertisements placed above the physical fold of the newspaper naturally attract more attention than offerings positioned on the opposing side of the publication.

Digging a little deeper into this definition unveils a slightly more philosophical approach to understanding the “above the fold” mentality. Aside from making sense from a logistics standpoint, advertising in this region during the peak years of newspaper readership became a prestigious endeavor reserved only for premier brands. Basically, if your business acquired this kind of ad space during this era of advertising, there was no question that your organization had made it to the big time.

Does This Translate to Email Marketing?

Obviously, the connection between what “above the fold” means in the email marketing world and realm of print advertising doesn’t necessarily translate at a one-to-one ratio. The big difference here is that you’re not competing with other brands for prime email real estate since your brand controls what goes into these messages.

Instead, “above the fold” marketing in terms of what goes on in the inbox is all about maximizing the limited real estate of the preview pane, according to Ciara Gill of Business 2 Community. Much like the finite resource of page space above the physical fold for newspapers, the preview pane generated by email service clients like Gmail and Yahoo provides you with a limited platform to spread your message, so it’s vital to the health of your campaign that you put your best foot forward with your message previews.

Maximizing the Most Important Portion of Your Emails

So what can you do to maximize your email preview panes and boost open rates? As Heather Fletcher of Target Marketing Magazine explains, it all starts with keeping your preheaders short, both in text length and font size. Preheaders are often the first thing viewers on either mobile or desktop platforms see in the preview pane, so making sure this text doesn’t take up too much real estate and block out the rest of your message is essential. Instead of writing a novel for this portion of your email, think of it as a chance to use one or two sentences to reinforce your subject line, drawing the reader in and leading them to your call-to-action.

From here, Fletcher goes on to suggest using HTML instead of imbedded graphics whenever possible. With so many email service providers suppressing images as part of the ongoing fight against spam, using HTML coding can help you avoid the dreaded “empty box” disaster that comes with images not rendering in the preview pane. Additionally, making sure you find a way to fit your logo into this portion of the message adds a level of familiarity and trust to the email. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when customers don’t respond well to a message from a source that’s not easily identified and differentiated from spam.

The last part of maximizing this preview comes with fitting in the most important pieces of content into the remaining space. By pushing extraneous and supporting information to beneath the preview pane “fold,” you can send a powerful message to consumers by highlighting the valuable content held within. Whether it’s a summary of what’s inside the message or a table of contents that directs newsletter readers to their favorite sections, avoiding wasted space with fluff can drastically improve your preview pane performance. With these tips, as well as everything else you’ve learned about putting the “above the fold” approach to good use, there’s nothing stopping your brand from making a major splash with readers who can’t wait to see your next email.



Whether you’re new to the world of email marketing or a seasoned veteran spearheading your brand’s latest campaign, there’s one thing that always stays the same – good enough won’t get you very far. With so many companies offering great email content, resting on your laurels is a quick way to fall behind the pack when it comes to your email templates and message content. To help you avoid a campaign that falls flat on its face, here are some quick tips that can help ensure your templates and messages are responsive and evocative moving forward.

Avoid Multiple Columns When Possible

Starting off the list is the basic structure of your template. By skipping multiple columns and sticking with a single text column approach, you can standardize your templates and ensure consistency between your desktop and mobile variants, according to Andre Lejeune in an article on Chief Marketer. This approach comes from two different perspectives. First is the fact that multiple columns are often hard to render and read comfortably on a mobile screen. From here, your brand really can’t afford to disregard its mobile constituency, as all signs point to smartphone and tablet usage continuing its meteoric rise in relevancy. Because of this, the best plan of action is finding a happy medium between the two and a unified template that’s responsive on both platforms.

Placing Your CTA

With the single column approach, you can continue to build a powerful template by reserving premium screen space at the top of the template for the call-to-action (CTA.) As part of the responsive approach, it’s important to engage your readers quickly, lest they lose focus and click over to the next promotional message in the inbox. By putting the CTA button or blurb at the top of the template, you offer a high impact piece of content that supports the body of the message and piques the viewer’s interest to continue reading, eventually leading into potential conversion territory by having them visit your page. When compared to the old approach of sticking the CTA at the bottom of the message, it’s easy to see that keeping things upfront and straightforward is a more proactive way to illicit a response from your audience.

Understand the Size Constraints of Mobile Screens

Continuing with the mobile theme, it’s important to keep interactive design fluid on smartphone and tablet platforms. While your desktop templates might be full of nifty graphics and buttons, these additions often don’t translate well to the small screen, even if you’re using the one column approach. If you absolutely need graphics in your marketed messages, consider building in the option to hide this secondary content. As The Business Journals’ report on the subject explains, keeping load times down and emails brief is a smart way to boost the response from your targeted demographic.

In regard to buttons, navigating these waters can be a little trickier because hiding this interactive feature can marginalize your CTA. For the buttons on your mobile platform to function properly, use them sparingly when possible and provide ample space on the template between interactive features to help mitigate the risk of unintentional clicks. Not only will this keep your click rates honest, it’s also key to avoiding a frustrated set of readers that can’t properly navigate or use your marketed message.

Thinking In Sections

Outside of some of the technical considerations surrounding the responsive approach, it’s also important to understand the big picture design implications of this strategy. At the heart of a responsive template is the idea that messages and visuals separated by segments are far easier for your audience to enjoy and view. Whether it’s split into block sections of the column, or breakaways explaining related deals, having defined borders and positioning helps present a more palatable email for consumers who don’t have time to sift through a single block of text.

Reaping Your Rewards

Now that you’re an expert on bringing your templates up to speed with modern trends, it’s time to look at some of the benefits you can expect from making the switch to the responsive design approach. As Cara Olson of Marketing Land explains in her case study on responsive emails, messages that don’t render well on desktops and mobile devices due to improper design are deleted immediately 70 percent of consumers. On the flip side, responsive templates generate more views, clicks, and conversions when compared to traditional message layouts. From this perspective, and with the tools to build a great responsive template in hand, there’s no reason your brand should ever send out a bland marketed message again.



In a world where it seems like every minute detail of your marketing content is subject to unbelievably intense scrutiny and analysis, sometimes the simple question of “how does your email actually look to the customer?” goes unanswered. While the substance of what ends up in customer inboxes is definitely the primary focus of any great promotional email push, if you don’t wrap it up in a visually pleasing package, don’t be surprised when it ends up in the virtual trash bin. To help you avoid this advertising calamity, let’s delve into the world of color theory and see just how important picking the right shades on the palette really is to the success of your brand.

What Is Color Theory, Exactly?

Of course for those of you who decided against the arts major in college, bringing up color theory might as well be like asking you how much you know about astrophysics. Thankfully, it’s really not that complex once you get the hang of it. The basic gist of the concept is that a color wheel defines the harmony between the colors, which in turn affects how people, like the readers of your emails, react to these choices. From here, creating an understanding of the connections between all of the choices on the wheel can add an extra layer of appeal that puts your brand imagery and content over the top with your audience.

Finding Balance and Harmony in Selections

Digging a little deeper shows that selections made via color theory start with evaluating sequential hues and shades found on the wheel, before branching off into three different approaches. The first approach focuses on analogous colors, or colors that stand side by side on the 12-part basic color wheel. Generally, the selections come in threes, with one color taking center stage for a brand’s color overall or email oriented color scheme. Additionally, pairing complimentary colors – or colors that exist as direct opposites in placement on the wheel – is also a popular strategy.

Finally, it’s not unheard of to look to the natural world for a little guidance when picking a color scheme for your brand or upcoming email marketing initiative. This branch of color theory selection asserts that Mother Nature often comes up with the best or most visually striking combinations anyways, so why not take a page out her book and save yourself some time?

Is Color Theory Really That Important?

Now that you’re up to speed on how color theory works, the natural next step in the process is looking at why it works. At the heart of the argument for putting a little more thought into your color selections when creating promotional emails is the fact that 93 percent of customers claim that the visual appearance of a product or message is the top factor that goes into a successful marketing operations. On top of this, 80 percent noted that well designed and pleasing color selection increased brand recognition and visibility. Basically, if you can find the right colors for your brand and for your emails, you’re well on your way to hitting a home run with your customers.

Adding In a Little Psychology to the Mix

Aside from aesthetics, the selection for your next campaign can also send another, more subtle message to your viewers based on psychological tendencies connected to these colors. Yellow, red, and orange denote optimism, energy, and aggressiveness respectively, while green brings up elements of wealth and prosperity. On the other hand, purple and blue emphasize trust and security, with black representing new or sleek products. It’s important to note that these relationships coincide directly with North American consumers, and that different cultures and regions attribute varying characteristics to these same colors, so selections should take into account where your target audience resides.

Building a Strategy for Your Brand

The final piece to the puzzle comes with setting up a strategy that compliments and emphasizes what you’re messages have to offer to viewers. Naturally, there’s no universal selection that works for every brand, but you can build around general strategies that help refine your color selection based on what you’re trying to accomplish. For instance, retooling your entire brand image based on a more appealing color scheme isn’t a bad idea if you’re thinking long-term. Likewise, focusing on the next campaign and finding the colors that really compliment your promotional deals and products is just as worthwhile an endeavor. Regardless of how you approach the process, it’s hard to go wrong with retooling your brand and message look to create a stunning visual your audience can’t resist.



A lot of what you read on this blog offers advice and guidance for brands that have been around the block at least once when it comes to email marketing. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it might be a little hard to get you into the flow of things if this is your first time setting up an email marketing campaign. Once you’re in gear and up to speed with the latest trends and best practices, you’ll be able to really pull some value out of the rest of the content. For now, here’s a few quick tips that will help you skip the learning curve and make a great email template for your first run of marketed messages.

Simple Coding is the Way to Go

To start, let’s talk about the meat and potatoes of your template – the coding. While you might be a web design whiz who can turn random strings of characters into a beautiful webpage, that talent’s better suited for places outside of the email. Because of the varying platforms and coding accommodations of the different mail providers, simple coding that keeps things clean and tidy is your best bet. This means sticking to the basic tags and fonts, as well as testing out your emails in a “what you see is what you get” (sometimes referred to by the acronym WYSIWYG) setting. By following this line of thought, you’ll never have to hear back from potential customers who wanted to check out your latest email offers, but couldn’t because your message looked more like a bowl of alphabet soup than a potent marketing message.

Go Easy on the Vids and the Visuals

Keeping up with this theme is the concept of cutting down on the videos and images found in your email messages. Much like complex coding, these additions can look great when viewed on certain platforms, but can also go the other way and bog down an otherwise powerful message. Additionally, plenty of email users already have images turned off by default, so all they’ll be seeing is big empty spaces that could otherwise showcase some great text. To circumvent this dilemma and still get some solid use out of these visuals, drop them on your landing pages and social sites so that viewers who like what you’re offering in the email wind up seeing this content anyways.

Don’t Forget the Mobile Viewers

Another key technical feature you can’t forget about when prepping your first email template is that plenty of your audience is going to check out these messages on a smartphone or tablet. Naturally, these mobile viewers need a little extra attention to ensure they can actually view the message. This means taking into account the reduced screen sizes in your scaling coding and going light on the graphics and visuals as mentioned in the previous part of this post. Additionally, mobile landing pages are a must if you go this way to guarantee you can move these viewers from the inbox to your online store.

Keep These Words out of the Mix

Aside from the more techy stuff that goes in your template, the actual wording of your template makes a big difference as well. Some words might seem like a must in your message, but the reality of the situation is that all they do is turn your viewers off pretty quickly. “Final,” “donation,” “don’t,” and “tempting” all bring up some seriously negative responses in your audience. While getting your message across does require some strong wording at times, making the reader feel rushed or compelled to do something is not a smart marketing strategy. Keep it friendly and let your deals and offers speak for themselves.

Think Big Picture

The final point isn’t necessarily a “do or a don’t,” but rather a philosophy that can extend beyond marketed emails and into any outreach with customers and others in your industry. When building a template for communication, keeping the “Big Picture” in view should always be your top priority. While focusing on the coding and technical aspects of your message definitely opens up a pretty powerful channel to spread your message, if the message isn’t good, you’re not really accomplishing anything at all.

As you build your template and the accompanying message, try to look at it as if you were the audience. Does the message make sense? Do you understand what’s being offered and what you need to do to redeem this discount? If either of these questions have answers that are anything but an emphatic “yes,” it might be time to go back to the drawing board and rethink your approach. Although this doesn’t sound like much fun, you’ll be enjoying it later as you watch open and redemption rates go through the roof with a message that’s supported by a great email template.



Welcome back for another edition of Template Release Friday!

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It’s Friday again and that means New Templates!

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We are back with another edition of Template Release Friday.

This week we have cards for all occasions such as daylight savings, company updates, and friendly reminders.

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