Design Emails That Get Opened, Clicked, and Convert

June 13, 2018 Mohammad Safi

The most effective emails combine a variety of creative and technical functions to provide a superior customer experience for recipients, so they open, click, and convert.

In an email masterclass session on Innovation in Email Design, I presented the latest techniques and tips that explain why good design is so critical in helping to deliver engagement, encourage loyalty, and increase return on investment. See the slide presentation User Experience and Innovation in Email Design on Slideshare.

1. Create high performing email design

Email campaigns are an extension of your brand, so it’s important to ensure the two align – building trust and increasing click-throughs. Think of each campaign as a website, where sharing relevant content increases customer activity.

Fifty-seven percent of email opens occur on mobile devices, so making your emails responsive or mobile optimized is key to that first step toward conversion. With just seconds to capture subscribers’ attention and encourage them to interact with you, don’t distract them from the main message.

Great design is only one part of the equation. Irrelevant content usually gets ignored or deleted. Sending targeted campaigns to specific segments can generate over seven times more revenue. A frictionless customer experience begins by enabling quick access to relevant products, using an optimized and tested layout, and select interactive elements.

2. Interactive elements boost inbox engagement

Interactive elements – also called Kinetic Elements – enable users to take an action within an email. These actions trigger an event without ever leaving the inbox. Interactive adds new functionality to email campaigns, can increase customer engagement and click-throughs, and allow for more efficiently designed emails. The most common features are:

  • Carousels: Display multiple products or key features
  • Show/Hide accordions: Hide content and reveal on hover
  • Mobile “hamburger” menus: Hide navigation links in collapsible menu
  • Hot spots: Draw viewer’s attention and display extra information in pop-up windows
  • Fixed position: Display fixed width banner to maintain branding
  • Transitions: Display a series of images with slow zoom or pan effects
  • Hover state/rollovers: Hovering over an image changes its appearance

Better designed emails can help direct customers to the most relevant products, rather than being forced into a long scroll. For example, a customer can easily choose men’s, women’s, or children’s clothing. Buttons with clear calls-to-action perform better and draw more clicks.

While we know adding interactive elements makes emails more effective, 85% of email marketers have yet to test interactive email. The addition of even simple interactivity can have a major impact:

  • Increasing ROI and click-to-open rates by 10%
  • Lifting unique click-through rates by 18%
  • Shortening the path to conversion

Subscribers take just 8-15 seconds to decide whether to read or leave. Only the savviest marketers will take this major opportunity to ensure their brands stand out in the inbox.

A common concern we hear when talking about adding functionality to emails is whether or not an email client will render these elements properly. While not all email clients support interactive emails, over 60% support some level of interactivity in email, and there are fallback solutions that can render where this is not supported.

3. Test where your customers lose interest

There are a number of different eye-tracking systems that monitor customer interaction with emails from open until close.

  • Heat Map displays the most attractive elements for customers in the form of hot and cold spots.
  • Gaze displays the movement sequence, order and duration of gaze fixation.
  • Cluster shows the areas with the highest concentration of gaze points, and shows the percentage of respondents who are interested in these clusters or “areas of interest.”

Such intelligence is great for highlighting distractions and showing where recipients might be losing interest. Analyzing these behaviors empowers designers to do everything from identifying areas where email flow and activity can be improved, to making tactical changes such as ensuring click through buttons are positioned correctly.

Marketers are used to designing a customer path through a website, and emails should be designed the same way. Simple tweaks can provide significantly better outcomes, resulting in more clicks and more purchases.

4. Personalize email with live content

Live content is a great way to add personalization to emails – beyond first name, and without heavy lifting by your team – by delivering relevant, contextual experiences at the time of open. Some common examples are:

  • Videos
  • Countdown timers
  • Local maps
  • Polls
  • Current weather and forecasts
  • Live product feeds
  • Live reveal scratch off coupons or vouchers
  • Delivery tracking

Tools like Movable Ink and Liveclicker add this functionality across many email platforms.

The right mix of design, targeting, and innovative technology will keep your customers opening and clicking, and help drive the business outcomes you desire.


About the Author

Mohammad Safi

Mohammad Safi is EMEA Creative Director at Cheetah Digital.

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