In this article, virtualROI give you the chance to gain insight into best practice for B2B email marketing by sharing some of our knowledge on B2B communications. The areas that we will cover are:
- HTML Implications
- Messaging and Rendering
Each section also contains some handy hints and tips to help with practical improvements.
How and where you position content from a design perspective can have a large impact on the effectiveness of your email. The role of the design is to highlight the messaging that is important ensuring that the information is easy to digest rather than lost in the design itself.
Image blocking is a challenge specific to email marketing that needs to be considered at the start of the design stage. Not only does it have an impact from a technical perspective as spam filters do consider the balance between content and imagery, but it also renders messaging within an image redundant. If the messaging is contained within the image and the images are not downloaded the messaging is lost.
Preview panes within email clients are used extensively as a way to filter out emails that are not of interest to the reader. If the From Name, Subject line and the headline in an email does not capture someone’s interest to read further then the message will likely be deleted.
The number of links contained within a design needs to balance between the opportunity to find out more and giving enough information to warrant the click to read more. This balance is not easy to judge but developing an email with lots of links but no content quite often becomes tiresome to the reader.
At the opposite scale are the lengthy emails that give everything away in the email without any need for the reader to click to find our more information.
All these items relate to the importance of using design to enhance the content rather than distract the reader from it.
From a coding perspective, there are multiple factors to consider to ensure that your marketing emails do not get caught in overzealous spam filters. Background images are not permitted in most B2B email clients and will essentially be removed.
Use of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) was something that used to be practiced widely, but more and more the coding style is moving to inline helping to ensure a wider rendering appeal in email clients.
Other factors to consider are use of html fonts, height/width on images as well as making sure that all emails include a web version and unsubscribe.
Subject lines are increasingly becoming a major factor in email marketing. Particularly since mobile devices being email enabled. For desktop email clients the guide is to keep subject line to below 35 characters, whilst for mobile email the length would need to be roughly between 15-20 characters.
Font type needs to be standard html fonts as if other font types are used this would mean using text embedded in images which in turn could be blocked. The colour of the font can also be of importance as certain colours have different meanings in different cultures.
The use of personalisation can have a positive or negative impact depending on how it is used. For instance being overfamiliar with someone that you have never communicated to before could deter them rather than open up lines of communications. The quality of your data is also an important consideration when using personalisation. If you do not have the right details for an individual and personalise using them, it could mean a closed door for further discussions.
Call to actions should be clearly visible and not hidden within images to ensure that people wanting to read more can easily do so. As mentioned previously use of non-standard fonts would mean embedding a CTA in an image, if images are not downloaded CTA’s are not visible.
The copy in general should attract both skimmers and readers, highlighting the vital parts of your content and should also go into enough depth to satisfy individuals prone to reading things in more detail.
Don’t forget that content is king, so don’t underestimate the power of your copy. If something is worth saying, then say it. If you find that you are asking yourself the question ‘so what’ after reading your copy, then will the readers find it interesting?
The use of background images within html emails is pretty much a redundant ingredient as they are removed or ignored by most major email clients. Images alone can enhance your message but can also destroy the structure of an email if they are missing height and width specified in the html.
Rich media content and forms are no longer used as they cannot be embedded within emails. The same goes for video content, but the workaround is to include a visual element to signify/show what the content available is and also include a text based call to action link to ensure that the content type is communicated clearly to the reader.
The choice of colours is just as much a consideration for cultural differences as it is a preference for your target audience. The psychology of colours is interesting to study separately. There are numerous studies showing preferences based on gender, age, occupation as well as culture.
A healthy balance between images/text and background colour/text/images will not only visually appeal to the eye but it is also a consideration for spam filters. For instance, if an email consists of images only, then it is likely to encounter deliverability issues.
Poorly crafted emails often fail to recognise the importance of the width of an email. The most frequent complaint amongst readers is having to scroll left and right to be able to digest information, so it is worth ensuring that your communication for desktop readers are no wider than 630px.
The legal requirements in the UK for sending a marketing message using email to a previously not engaged contact consists of providing:
- Clear Sender
- Working unsubscribe link
- Physical mailing address