Successful Email Ad Design

Any reputable online marketing firm will tell you that successful email advertising is one of the best ways to make your company, product, or service more visible online.  Millions of emails are sent daily, marketing a wide variety of products and services.  For this reason, outstanding email ad design is critical.  In designing your ad you will want to follow guidelines common to any good marketing piece, but you must also optimize your ad to perform in the email marketing environment.

Here are 10 “Do’s” and “Dont’s” for creating a successful email ad:

DO compose the ad using a combination of HTML and text
The use of graphics will draw the reader’s attention better than text alone.  It also allows for brand recognition through the use of a company logo and images of products.  The inclusion of text will help the SPAM score as well as to allow the recipients to read the portion of the email, should their ESP automatically block images.

DON’T feel that you need to close every sale with your email ad
Studies have shown that email ads that are too busy, offer too many choices, and present too much of a “hard sell” perform less effectively.  The primary purpose of your email ad is to get people to click and visit your website or landing page.  That is where the selling should take place.

DO keep the ad clear, concise and specific
This will keep the reader’s attention.  Create a great header to “hook” the reader.  Include three to five details about the product or service in the body of the advertisement.  Finally, be sure to have a call to action such as “Visit our Website.”  The temptation can be to want to tell your reader everything about your product, service, or company in the email.  But, as stated above, long ads often overwhelm the reader and have lower response rates.

DO maintain a greater text-to-image ratio
A ratio of approximately 65% text to 35% images is optimal.  If you include too many images your ad may be identified as spam by a reader’s spam filter.  It is essential to maintain that balance to avoid the pitfalls of using too much text or too many images.

DON’T include the bulk of your message inside the images
Recipient’s who have their email program set to automatically block images will not see the text of your ad if you do this.  By placing the text outside the images, recipients will see your message even if they don’t automatically see your images.

DO include a description of the images you use in the “alternative text” field
This means that, in the event that the images do not automatically display, the recipient will see a description of each image which might entice him or her to display the images.  For example, a furniture company may put a picture in their ad of a dining room set and have the alt text field read, “Mahogany dining set half off.”

DO keep your ad dimensions to 600×600
This allows most recipients to view your entire ad without having to scroll down thereby increasing the chance for a full read.

DO keep the file size and image resolution reasonable
We recommend a file size of 80kb (no larger than 200kb) and resolution of 72 DPI or 80% quality.  These numbers optimize the time it takes for the email to load (a key factor in whether or not it is read) while not sacrificing too much in quality.

DON’T use words, characters, or stylistic cues that will attract attention from spam filters
This will possibly keep your ad from being delivered to the recipient’s inbox.  Here are some things to avoid:  lots of font colors, large font sizes, all caps, excessive punctuation.  Also, trigger phrases like “risk-free” or “Click Here” should be avoided.  (You can find a more extensive list of these here).

DO run the source code of the final copy of your ad through a Spam Check program
A good example is This free program will give your ad a score based on common spam flags.  It will help you to refine your ad, reducing the likelihood of it getting caught in a spam filter.  We do not recommend sending an ad with a score over 1.9.

Remember, the perfectly designed advertisement is only perfect if it is relevant to the recipients of the e-mail marketing list to which it’s sent.  If this all seems a bit overwhelming and some of the terminology is foreign to you, don’t be alarmed.  We’re here to help if you have questions.  Additionally, please check out our other articles on subjects like finding a reputable online marketing firm and what to look for in an e-mail marketing list.

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