A few of us from StoneShot attended last month’s Email Design Conference hosted by Litmus to find out about the latest email design trends, discuss email marketing best practices, and share our insights with our peers in the business. We left the conference feeling energised and confident, and would like to share with you some of our main takeaways.

Use your data wisely
Data is hugely important in marketing, and we’re always working to collect more information about our audience. This information can be used to personalise future emails and improve your relationship with the end user. So, figure out who your target audience is, what they want and at what time of day they want it. Not everyone works a 9-5 job and goes to bed at 10pm, but maybe your audience does, and that’s what matters. It’s important to do what’s relevant to your audience, and not blindly follow general rules.

Analytics can also take a lead role in your email designs. Today, especially, it’s important to think about what kind of device your audience is opening emails on and how you can improve your design to obtain better results for the reader. Litmus’ advice included: making clear call to action (CTA) buttons, keeping any important CTAs on a mobile device above the fold, and content short and sweet. If you need to link to more information, use a landing page. This will help you gauge the level of interest of your audience as well as not taking up the small yet precious space allotted on mobile devices. Which brings me on to the next point…

Era of the Responsive email
RESPONSIVE was the buzz word of the conference. Not only is everyone trying to figure out the best way to build responsive emails, but we learned that here at StoneShot, we may be part of the select few that have a foolproof method that works successfully across all clients (not to toot our own horn). According to Litmus, 47% of emails are opened on mobile devices, and 90% of people open the same email on multiple devices so things like font sizes (which need to be increased to at least 16px to improve legibility) and CTA buttons (which need to be clickable with a thumb – minimum 41px high) are important considerations.

Sell the click
On the subject of CTA buttons, the advice was not to ask the recipient to commit too early… no one wants to get married before going on a date! Think of the CTA button as the dating phase, and leave it to the landing page to stage the romantic proposal. By using “Read more about this” instead of “Get this NOW!” the perceived action on the recipient’s end is decreased, and they’ll be more willing to click. Then you can save the commitment action for the landing page.

An idea for surveys is to include the first question within the email itself, and be sure to keep it simple. This will encourage participation, and once they’ve answered the first question they will be more likely to finish the survey.

Mind your manners
At the end of the day, your audience is a person just like you. The same way you appreciate someone saying “thanks” or “happy birthday,” so do they. Not every email has to sell a product or deliver information. According to Elisa Haidt at Concur/TripIt, some of their Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary (for year-long members) emails have the highest open and click rates. If you apply this rationale to your email marketing perspective as a whole, you’ll not only provide more relevant information, but you’ll strengthen your relationship with your audience, and that makes for a great marketing strategy.