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Let’s start off with a heartbreakingly obvious fact: people make snap judgements about whether or not to read your emails based on a quick glance. That’s how everyone reads emails these days. We choose an email message, give it a two-second glance, then decide if it’s worth our time.

If it is, we keep it and read it. If not, we hit the delete key and send the email to the trash.  How can you keep your email out of the trash? The secret is good design. In those first two seconds, email design is all your reader sees.

1. Forgetting to say hello

Your emails should feature an instantly-recognizable, consistent header image. Over time, your header image will be associated with the high-quality information you share. Ideally, this email header should relate to the business or product your reader signed up to learn more about. So if you’re a dog groomer and you have a special email newsletter just for poodle owners, your header should identify the information you’ll share and look visually related to your overall dog groomer brand.

2.  Hard-to-read fonts

Your email newsletter’s main goal is to communicate, but what if the words are hard to read?  Be sure to avoid these two errors:

Using fonts that are too small.

This is especially important if some of your readers are older, and may have eyesight problems. And with so many emails being viewed on smartphones, it makes sense to increase font sizes.

Using too many fonts.

Combining too many different fonts makes your email look messy.  Pare it down to no more than two fonts, and only use the italic and bold styles to add variety.

3.  Color catastrophes

For your email to look professional and inviting, you have to master color. The biggest color mistakes are choosing ones that are overly bright or florescent.  Don’t use too many colors, either. Use a color palette with two dominant colors and tone down the rest.  Finally, don’t use light text on a dark ground.  The most readable combination is dark text on a light ground.

4.  Muddled information

When a reader glances at your email, they should know right away which information is the most important, what they should look at next, and what’s the least important.  Make this obvious by using a large, bold headlines for newsletter’s main topics.

5.  Awful images

There’s nothing that says “an amateur designed this email” like cheap-o clip art.  A great way to have access to a large image library at minimal cost is a service like Stock Unlimited, one of the tools we use.

6.  No base to stand on

Featuring your contact information, your company mission, and your social media profiles in a consistent footer area in every email makes you look professional.

7.  Frequent makeovers

Once you’ve got an email looking good, resist the urge to keep changing it. Choose a look and stick to it for a while so people recognize who the email is coming from.

Make your emails ‘keepers’

Use these tips to create a recognizable brand experience with every message you send. It’s the best way to ensure that the great information you share doesn’t end up in the virtual trash heap.