Email Marketing Templates

Instructor: Ian Matthews

Ian teaches college writing and has a Master's in Writing and Publishing

So you want to send marketing emails but don't want to code them in HTML every time. An email template is the way to go: it's an easy way to produce great-looking emails every time. Let's see how and why to use templates for your marketing emails.

What Is an Email Template?

An email template is a pre-made structure for your email. It's basically a stack of boxes that you put your content into. Text, images, links, and buttons are all arranged for you (some templates will let you drag and drop content boxes if you prefer a different arrangement). All you have to do is choose your colors, fonts, and images, and fill the boxes with content.

Many email marketing services come with a slew of pre-made templates, but they're pretty bare-bones, which presents another challenge. If your emails aren't unique enough -- or if you end up using the same template as another company -- you're in the same position you were in without a template at all. There are also several sources out there for paid email templates, and you can always use a graphic designer to create a template from scratch -- you're just going to spend a bit more cash.

Using Email Templates

Whether you're using a prefabricated template or making your own, you'll eventually have to fill it with content. A good template will have blocks for text and images -- usually more for text than for images. Spam filters will often stop emails that have too many photos, and some email clients won't load images at first. Your text should be the primary message-carrier, and images should enhance it.

Your text will speak best when it's arranged into short paragraphs (definitely nothing more than five sentences; three or four is ideal). When it's appropriate, use plain text bullets (e.g., asterisks) or numbered lists -- they'll catch your readers' eyes and make them stick around to read more of your content.

Your template absolutely needs to include three more things: the name of your company or organization, a physical address, and a button to unsubscribe. Federal anti-spam regulations require these three things, and adding them to your template (or choosing a template that includes them by default) is much easier than remembering to include them in all of your marketing emails.

Keep It Simple

When it comes to the fonts, colors, and images of your email template, it makes sense to keep it fairly clean and low-key. Just like your images should support and enhance your text, the fonts and colors you pick should support and enhance your message.

Clashing colors and gaudy fonts draw attention to themselves, which distracts from the words that are actually written in those fonts. Your message will get lost in static when you pick fancy, unreadable or obnoxious fonts. Speaking of readability, your fonts should be big enough to read on any screen. A font size of 12 points is a bare minimum.

One last note: the best email templates running are designed with adaptive design principles. This means that the template will scale up or down, depending on the device that the reader is using to look at the email. With more and more people using their phones or tablets to check their email, it's important to make sure your marketing emails have those people in mind.

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